Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Random Training, Reading WKO+ Charts From A Season

An athlete recently did a consultation with me over his training, where he sent me all his WKO+ files from this past season, and I reviewed the charts, telling him what I saw about his training.

Here is one of the charts I used, which showed me how his cycling training went for the year, fairly clearly:

(Click on image to enlarge)

You'll notice the athlete starts off the season really well, from January until May, with consistent improvement, only to see the second half of the season not resemble anything like the first half. This is something I see common in self-coached athletes. They will spend the first part of the season doing all the group workouts they can, racing in practice all the time, going hard as often as they can, training by peer pressure. After awhile, the body begins to plateau, or they get mentally tired, and they struggle to perform well at the same workouts which were bringing them such great fitness in the early season. By the end of the season, the athlete is just shot, mentally and physically, usually finishing on a negative note.

If you're looking for ways to prevent this from happening, then using technology in your training and analysis of your training will help you to make better training decisions. You can create training decisions based on data, not on peer pressure! After a few weeks of seeing a plateau, as a coach I would be changing training for sure!

This is the type of thing I discussed in the webinar on "Advanced Charts and Tracking in WKO+ for Athlete Performance," at Performance Webinars. If you use WKO+, or are interested in using it, then my webinar which is archived on there is something you'll want to see, for helping you see these plateaus before they happen.

I will share some more charts from this athlete and others, which show some interesting things from the year and season of 2009. Stay tuned!

Coach Vance

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Gift Certificates Available for the Holidays and Beyond

If you're looking for a gift idea for the athlete in your life, TrainingBible Coaching is offering gift certificates and a holiday special for you to consider!

1. Gift Certificates - Purchase a gift certificate for coaching, our camps, clinics, video analysis or even a sit-down session with a coach to discuss goals, planning training for the year, or whatever the needs of the athlete are. Prices vary, so please check this page for details.

2. How about 3 months of coaching by one of my TrainingBible coaches? This is something nearly every athlete would love to receive as a gift to help them get ready for the 2010 season. Make your purchase before December 25 and TrainingBible will even give you a gift - we will waive our normal $150-250 Start Up Fee (with 3 months paid in advance). This offer is good for any of our coaching services.* For a list of services and fees go to our site. To take advantage of this offer please email our Director of Coaching, Adam Zucco before December 25, 2009.

Coach Vance

*This is based on coach availability, as I only have 3.0-4.0 level service plans available. However, we have other coaches with availability at other levels.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Post Season Analysis

The following is an article I wrote for Finishline-Multisport for the month of December. It's a timely piece, with a lot of relevancy for athletes who have finished up their season.

Post Season Analysis

Analysis of fitness is a key to improvement and performance, and is something I do on a regular basis with my athletes. However, sometimes it is best to sit back and look at the bigger picture of fitness and performance. This is why coaches set-up an annual training plan at the beginning of the season, which structures the year to build fitness across a spectrum of time.

Another great time to do this, which is often overlooked, is the end of the season. Analysis of how the season went, and how it could have been improved is a key component of planning for the following season.

One of the exercises I have my athletes do is write out the answers to the following questions, so we can better assess the season...

Read the rest here at

Coach Vance

Thursday, December 3, 2009 Swim Training Plans

For those of you out there training and using ActiveTrainer, I have created some swim training plans with iPod/iPhone videos, which you can take to the pool with you, to help demo drills and skills.

The plans are written as two days of workouts and new drill introduction, (Mondays and Wednesdays), and then another fitness-based workout which combines the skills of the week into a single workout. Every other week has a fourth workout, which is optional or can be switched around during the week.

If you're a triathlete looking for swim help only, and want to do your own bike and run training, then these plans are for you. You can simply add these swim workouts to your training, and adjust as you see fit.

Check it out here under Triathlon or Swimming:

There are three plans, Level 1, Level 2, and a combined one for cheaper of Levels 1 and 2.

If you use these, I'm sure you'll learn a lot, and improve your swimming!

Best of luck!

Coach Vance

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Understanding Swimming talk at Nytro - Wednesday Dec 16th

I'll be doing a talk at NYTRO in Encinitas, CA which you won't want to miss!

What: "Learning and Understanding the 3 Most Important Technical Aspects of Swimming"
When: Wednesday, December 16th, 2009 6:15 - 7:30 PM
Where: Nytro
Who: Anyone who is struggling with swimming, or wants to get faster in the water
***Please RSVP to Jim at jvance at trainingbible dot com****

This lecture will help athletes understand what they want to accomplish in the water, not just throwing one arm in front of the other.

Even if you've already been this or similar lectures, I've improved it with some new concepts, analogies and aspects which will help you improve your swimming OVERNIGHT! If you haven't seen it, then don't miss this chance!

Hope to see you there!

Coach Vance

Monday, November 30, 2009

Webinar - Advanced Charts WKO+ - Archived

If you missed my webinar on "Advanced Charts and Tracking in WKO+ for Athlete Performance", you can find it archived at:

(Scroll down to the title)

It was a great webinar, with excellent questions from the viewers, and a lot of positive feedback. If you're a coach or athlete using WKO+, you should watch this webinar.

Coach Vance

Saturday, November 28, 2009

TrainingBible Coaching California Triathlon Camp - March 2010

TrainingBible Coaching California Triathlon Camp
March 11th-14th, 2010, (Thursday – Sunday)
San Luis Obispo/Atascadero, California

The Perfect Training Camp for Wildflower, St. George, or Oceanside!

Camp Features:
• All workouts are coach-led, by a TrainingBible Coach, for swim, bike and run!
• Training on Wildflower Triathlon bike course and surrounding areas
• Coach on-deck for pool sessions
• Fully-sagged rides
• Underwater swim video technique assessment for each athlete, ($100 value!)
• Run video technique assessment for each athlete, ($100 value!)
• 3 classroom sessions, for learning, Q&A, discussion and individual learning, totaling 4 hours in length!
• Free airport shuttle to those flying via San Luis Obispo Airport to/from camp hotel
• 16-25 hours of training in 4 days! (Swim 6 hrs, Bike 7-13 hrs, Run 3-6 hrs)
• Hotel discounted rate (Athletes are responsible for food, lodging and travel to San Luis Obispo.)

The camp will feature training totals of:
Swim - 6 hours
Bike - 7-13 hours
Run - 3-6 hours
Total Training - 16-25 hours in 4 days!

March 11th – 14th Camp (Thursday-Sunday): $499 ($449 for TrainingBible Athletes!)

Extended Camp Opportunity March 8th – 14th (Monday – Sunday): $799 ($749 for TrainingBible Athletes!) ****Extended camp opportunity is for those who want to extend the experience and enjoy a full week of training with the TrainingBible Coaching athletes and staff****

Register here at

See the full camp schedule here

Camp Hotel – Best Western Colony Inn, Atascadero
(805) 466-4449
Hotel Features:
• Free continental breakfast
• Free internet
• Pool access, (Kennedy Club)
• Special rate of $99-$105/night (Based on occupancy)
• Amenities include refrigerator, microwave, coffee maker

Send any questions to the Camp Coordinator, Orlanda Vance, at ovance at trainingbible dot com.

Hope to see you there!

Coach Vance

Friday, November 20, 2009

Triathlon Camp - Majorca, SPAIN March 2010

If you're looking for a cool trip, training camp, and learning experience over in Europe, then you should consider the camp I'm running with Joe Friel in Majorca, SPAIN, from March 19th to 26th.

One week full of training, technical work, open water swimming, and incredible scenery, on this beautiful island! Details of the camp can be found at:

Feel free to contact me with questions. Space is limited, and it is filling up, so hurry!

Coach Vance

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Webinar - Advanced Charts and Tracking in WKO+ for Athlete Performance

I will be giving a webinar on November 30th, at 7:30 PM EST/ 4:30 PM Pacific, entitled, "Advanced Charts and Tracking in WKO+ for Athlete Performance" at Performance Webinars.

If you use WKO+ to track your training, or are interested in using it, use a power meter, or even a speed-distance device for running, (Garmin, Polar, etc), then this is the webinar for you!

If you miss it, it will be archived and sold at

This is not a beginner-focused webinar, it is designed for athletes and coaches who are looking to maximize how to use WKO+, not just for individual sessions, but for the entire season and comparing over past seasons. We will not discuss how to download files, but focus more on assessing performance and tracking adaptation to training.

All of the webinars offered through Performance Webinars have both USAT and USAC credits associated with them. This includes the live and archived webinars.

Coach Vance

Monday, November 9, 2009

Choosing a coach...

For those of you who haven’t been reading my athlete blog, you’ve probably missed the announcement that I will be returning to elite level racing in 2010. I thought it would be good to share on my coaching blog how I, as a coach and elite triathlete, choose my coach. (

After discussing things with my wife, and making the decision, it became time to decide who I would recruit to help me on this journey, specifically, “who will coach me?” For some, this sounds like a crazy irony, because I myself am a coach. Shouldn’t I know everything I need to know in order to coach myself? Certainly I don’t lack the knowledge to coach myself, but I’m not ignorant to the fact I don’t know everything. I was able to coach myself to some incredible fitness in late 2008, with Joe Friel’s consulting, and even coached myself to the 2005 ITU World Age Group Championship for Men 25-29.

The problem is mostly objectivity that I tend to lack. Though I know myself, I know I can find it tough to stay objective and not fall to peer pressure in many of the decisions I have to make regarding training and racing. When I start to feel good, I tend to want to poor on the volume and intensity, and conversely, when I feel tired or bad, I want to back off way too much. The roller coaster was very taxing mentally and emotionally. Injuries would add to the mix, and I would be in dire straits.

I also would make decisions which in the past were based on things which weren’t important to me in the bigger picture, but I got caught up in short-term thinking. So after recognizing my weaknesses in my past training, I knew that I needed someone who simply could bring balance and structure to my training. I had to let someone else take the responsibility, and hold me responsible to it.

After coming to TrainingBible Coaching, I have become much more of a scientist, and really embrace technology and objectivity, to keep me balanced and my training more effective. I knew I needed a coach who would embrace science, even if it wasn’t in the same ways which I had in the past.

The coaches I have had in the past directly working with me have been Greg Welch, Cliff English, (briefly at the US Olympic Training Center), Peter Reid, and Joe Friel, which is an ALL-STAR cast! I knew my standards have been quite high, and that standard must be maintained.

Sometimes as a coach and athlete, we get stuck into thinking there is a specific routine to training, and we almost find ourselves in a rut, forgetting some of the things we’ve learned in the past, or even move away from experimentation in training. I have always searched for ways to do things better, and learn new things. As an Ironman-focused elite for the past few years, clearly my biggest weakness is speed and high-intensity. I needed a coach who would bring a different background of experience and perspective, to help me reach my goals for 2010 and beyond.

I always want to learn some new things to try with some of my athletes, and continue to provide a top level service to them, being a coach at the forefront of the industry. Certainly, a coach who would bring all these things to the table for me would help me not only as an athlete, but as a coach as well.

I had a short list of coaches, and did some research on them, and continued to ask myself again what was most important to me for learning, helping me become a better athlete, and advancing my career as a coach. I kept coming back to one name which I liked and provided me everything I was looking for, and then some. That name was Bob Seebohar.

Bob has been the nutritionist on staff with the US Olympic Training Center and the Florida Gators. He has successfully coached two of the top female ITU triathletes for the US, Sarah Haskins and Jasmine Onieck. Sarah went to the Olympics this year, and Jasmine won the US Elite Championship.

I will be his lone long course guy, but we will do some short-course racing as well, trying to do some different things and balancing the training for maximium performance preparation. Being his one guy in this arena is exciting and a great opportunity for me.

Bob has already taught me a lot, and I am looking forward to this relationship continuing for awhile. Should be exciting, stay tuned!

Coach Vance

Friday, October 30, 2009

Debunking the High-Cost Myth of Power Meters

Here's my latest article for, which is one I've had on my mind for awhile!

Debunking the High-Cost Myth of Power Meters

One of the requirements I've started making with the athletes I coach, is that they invest in a power meter. I do this not just because it makes my job as a coach easier, but more importantly, the training decisions we make become based on objective data, rather than impulse and bias. This makes my work as a coach much more effective for the athlete.

Of course, one of the biggest obstacles I face in presenting this requirement is the perception that power meters cost a lot of money. "Wow, do you know how much those cost?" is usually the initial response. Yet, so many athletes come to me wanting to spend thousands of dollars on a new bike, wetsuit, swim skin suit, and/or race wheel set.

In all my days of coaching or racing professionally, I've never seen a bike or similar piece of equipment which has allowed me or my athletes to train dumb. If the athlete thinks the bike will actually be the difference to make up for a lack of focused and consistent training, then the marketing of bike companies has done an outstanding job. (To be fair, bike companies are not the only ones.)...

Read the rest of the article at

Coach Vance

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Training By Peer Pressure Article

I wrote this article for, on training according to your needs, rather than peer pressure. Check it out, and let me know what you think...

Training by Peer Pressure

I am approached quite often by athletes who are stumped as to why they can't seem to have the performances they know they're capable of. They see their training go so well, and yet when they come into a big race, they find many people they are near in training beating them handily.

One of the biggest causes I believe is that many athletes simple train according to peer pressure...

Read the rest at

Coach Vance

Monday, October 19, 2009

This Wednesday Night at Nytro - Taper & Peaking for Ironman

Are you doing Ironman Florida or Arizona? Are you looking for the perfect taper and peak for the race? Then come to my event on Wednesday night at NYTRO for my FREE talk on effective strategies for tapering for these and other races.

I will be discussing tapering strategies with actual training examples, to help you see how to effectively taper and maximize all the training you've been doing for months! Whether you think a taper works for you or not, I will discuss ways to effectively taper either way.

If you are self-coached, this talk will help you to maximize ALL the training you've been doing.

Please RSVP to tribobbie@yahoo. com

Wednesday, October 21st, 6:30 PM
Food and drinks will be served.

940 South Coast Highway 101
Encinitas, CA 92024
Phone: 760.632.0006

Hope to see you there!

Coach Vance

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Matt Hoover Speaks

Matt Hoover speaks on his critics, in response to someone sending him an email to let him know there were negative things being said on a forum. I thought it was quite the response.


Thanks for the heads up, but I will be honest with you. I actually don’t read any forums. If Jim hadn’t forwarded me the email he sent you guys, I would have never even known that anything negative had ever been said about me on your site. I felt like you were very respectful and professional toward me when we interviewed and if you feel like covering my next Ironman when there won’t be any cameras and hoopla, I’d be glad to talk with you.
I’ve been in the public eye for many years now and have learned that no matter the success or the failure, there will be people jumping on the opportunity to bash a perfect stranger. I did the best I could that day and that is all I can do. At the end of the day, the only people I am worried about impressing are God, my family, and my friends. When it’s all said and done, whether I crossed the line at 16:59:59 or at 17:03, they all still love me and that is what is truly important to me.
This year people will be negative toward me and next year those same ignorant people will do it to someone else and no one will be sitting around talking about my performance this year. The cool thing is that the people I met while I was here, amateurs and pros alike were all so nice to me and that is what I am going to take away from this experience. The people screaming for me when I crossed that line, the strangers that ran alongside me down Alii Dr. and the 2 little boys yelling that I could still do it even though time was way past the cut-off. Those are memories that will be with me the rest of my life and as I said to you during our interview, I will never feel bad or apologize for making the most of an opportunity.
I was inspired that day, by the athletes that passed by me, by a stranger that I will never see again with one leg and one arm who was still going at the energy lab even though neither of us were going to be “official” Ironmen, by the people at the aid stations who never let on that I may not even get the opportunity to cross the line, by thousands of strangers screaming as I made the turn toward the finish, and most of all by my coaches, friends, and family who let me beleive I could actually do this and were still proud when I didn’t.
I didn’t do this Ironman to prove to some stranger wrong or right, I did it to prove to myself and others that we can do anything we set our minds to. For all of the negative statements, there are positives. For all of those feeling uninspired by my performance, there are those who will be. I am proud to think that whether I am a real Ironman or not, (I will be when I cross the line under the cut-off at my next one) there may be at least one person who chooses to chase what may seem to be an impossible goal and not quit until they get to the finish line.
Thanks for letting me know, but I am not going to waste a moment of my time trying to change the opinions of others toward me. Triathlon has been a gift in my life as well as my family and we are going to do our best to promote it and all it has to offer in the best light we can for as long as we can. The athletes that are already involved in this sport should welcome all people into the tri-life whether they are fat, skinny, tall, short, fast or slow. You never know, this sport just may be a new lease on life for someone.
Not crossing the finish line under the cut-off in Kona would be far less embarrasing than knowing I turned even one person off to this amazing sport because of my attitude toward them or their appearance. As I said in one of my interviews last week. “You can only make a first impression of someone by their appearance. You can never judge their heart and mind until you give them a chance.”
I firmly beleive that all of us in this great sport should give everybody who wants to, the chance to experience their own victory in our sport.
Have a great day!

Matt Hoover (Almost an Ironman this time!)

Matt Hoover
Author: Matt Hoover’s Guide to Life, Love, and Losing Weight

Coach Vance

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Letter to

In my last post about Kona and Matt Hoover, I briefly referenced all the pressure which was on Matt. This pressure was some good, but mostly bad. It was amazing to me the negative response so many people had to him getting the spot in Kona. Some of the things which were said were not something I would ever want someone I care about to hear said to them. I honestly believe this is a small minority of individuals in the sport, but sometimes it's not the size the population that matters, it's the strength of their voice.

There is one particular website which has a strong voice in the sport, They expressed a negative opinion of Matt's presence at Kona. I don't mind that, as everyone has their opinion, but later I felt compelled to write this letter and I think you'll see why. I normally try to stay away from controversial topics, but as I get older I am realizing being PC 100% of the time is impossible. I also care about my athletes. Here is my letter...

"Dear Mr. Roman Mica,

I was the coach who worked with Matt Hoover, winner of The Biggest Loser, in his attempts to conquer Ironman Hawaii. I am writing this email to you to express my disappointment in the actions of your website, As the editor-in-chief of the website, I believe you hold the key position in deciding what stories are written, reported and which opinions are expressed.

I especially noted the following opinion piece from May 7th, (which has no name attached to it, and did not make any attempt to separate itself from the opinions of, where it stated:

"Wow Matt, you know what would really impress us and how you could really, 'show a lot of people who have the idea that an athlete is 5'10" and 160 pounds that a big guy can do this?' Put in the hard work and ACTUALLY QUALIFY FOR KONA, or at least enter the lottery like everyone else! All that you are showing us is that like the other Biggest Loser who ran a marathon in a van, your biggest accomplishments are all for the camera with a lot of help and special treatment that in our opinion don't add up to a hill of beans at the end of the day."


I did not confront your opinion, because you are entitled to it. However, it seemed very clear that your website has a serious problem with the human interest stories. It seemed clear you did not like to see Matt in the race. Never mind the fact these stories can help the sport grow, they also help Ironman grow as a business.

Ironically, last weekend in Kona, Hawaii, you had Mr. Ben Greenfield do not one, but TWO interviews with Matt. You used them as both article-based posts for your website, and audio podcasts of the interviews, unedited, pre- and post-race. See below:

I have no issues with Mr. Greenfield's portrayal or treatment of Matt during the interviews, but I do find it rather hypocritical of to criticize Matt for bettering himself and his life to be an inspiration to others, and for Ironman and NBC to help grow the sport with the exposure from his participation, all the while you are blatantly doing the same with both articles and audio of interviews, trying to attract viewers for your website and business.

I also found the piece you originally wrote added to an extremely pretentious attitude in our sport, and is not what will help it grow. Nor will it positively influence the millions of Americans battling weight issues to use the sport to enrich both their lives and health. I hope you will consider these further for your future editorial decisions.


Jim Vance"

Coach Vance

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Kona Coach's Race Report Part 2

After watching my first two athletes have the best races of their careers, even thru the lava fields, I turned my attention back to Matt Hoover. Matt’s day started off about as bad as it could have. I was standing with him briefly to review the plan for the race around 6:15 AM, and he suddenly was complaining of getting stung by something. “I think something just stung me in my back, and on my thumb.” I turn him around, and there was a HUGE all-black bee-like insect. I had never seen anything like it. I flicked it off him and stepped on it.

Now my concern was for Matt, and if he would have a reaction to the sting, but he assured me he was not allergic to anything. I took a deep breath of relief.

I had told Matt if he was off the bike by 5 PM, we could get this done. Sure enough, a couple minutes after 5 PM he rounded the corner from the transition area and onto Kuikini Highway. I was jumping up and down, excited for him. He looked rather tired though, and he confirmed that when I asked how he was doing. I grabbed my bike and rolled behind him, encouraging him and reminding him about the pace he needed to hold to make it in enough time. He wore a Garmin to help him keep track of his current pace.

I told him I just wanted him to brisk walk for the first 10 miles, then we would try to run. Things were looking fine thru 5 miles, despite the fact he kept vomiting. All the liquids he would take down would just come back up. We tried simple water, but it just didn’t matter. The heat was really getting to him, as coming from Seattle it was very hard to prepare for the temperatures and time he would spend out on the Queen K.

He had followed the planned watts on the power meter for the ride, and said he only had a cramp once, so I felt he should come out of it just fine. Meanwhile, people are cheering for him, taking photos, telling him, “America’s cheering for you,” and tons of other positive support. I was thanking people for him, because he was in such bad shape he couldn’t really talk, and with so many cheers it was draining him out.

Just before mile 9, I began to become concerned. He was dropping from 16 min miles to 18, and the vomiting persisted. He was not walking a straight line, and he began to complain of poor vision. I went up ahead to the aid stations to ask for a race radio, but no one had it. I later found a race official on a scooter, who called the medical van. It took until the Palani climb about a mile later before they came, and by now Matt was dropping to 19 minute miles. It was not looking good.

Up Palani, Matt was in really bad shape. He was staggering up the hill, and I was worried he might fall over. The medical staff was walking with him and asking him questions, and also discussing the situation with myself. His continuous vomiting worried them, and they said if he fell down, or became delirious, his race would need to be over. Suzy, his wife from the show was crying as she watched him, clearly worried.

Matt was vocal in that he would not drop out. We got to the top of Palani, and I tried to convince Matt to just stop for few minutes and regain himself. He didn’t want to stop. On we continued. By now, two of his friends had joined me to cheer him on, (Joe and Colin), and it was clear Matt was one of the last people on the course.

The run sweep guy, whose job it is to follow behind the last athletes, and decide when to pull the plug on the aid stations, was checking Matt’s split from 13 to 14 miles. It was not good. He had now drifted so far off pace, and was looking terrible. The run sweeper told me, “His last mile was almost 20 minutes. No one gets to 14 miles and then picks up speed. It’s over for your guy shortly. He has 12 miles left and must run no slower than 15 minutes per mile, or he won’t make it. And as of right now, it’s looking like he will finish around 1 AM.” He made me aware that soon he would need to pull the plug on the aid stations and there would be no support out there for Matt.

Meanwhile, NBC cameras are all over and following us on the Queen K, with their lights being the only thing keeping us able to see in front of us at times. (The Queen K is a dark hell at night). When they were filming, it was bright and easy to see, but when they turned off the camera and lights, you couldn’t make out the road.

Rich Cruse, a great sports photographer had become good friends with Matt thru some photo shoots, and he had asked me to keep him posted on how Matt was doing. I went to my Blackberry to send him a message that it wasn’t going to happen. I was just so bummed, I hesitated to send the message. Then I recalled Rich’s famous picture of Paula Newby-Fraser sitting on the side of the road while aid station workers and race officials poored a cold bucket of water over her. Rich had described the scene to me, and how it was amazing how Paula suddenly came back to life, and went on to finish fourth.

I rode back up to Matt and asked him if he still felt really hot. He replied yes, and I suddenly knew what to do. Matt was still a big guy, around 250 lbs, and certainly working that hard for this long left his internal temperatures high, and with the insulation of his body weight, he was burning up.

I surged ahead to the aid station and got 2 volunteers to get a half trash can full of COLD water and ice, and that they would dump on him when he would arrive. True to form, it changed him almost immediately. His next mile was back under 16, and more importantly, HE STOPPED VOMITING! He entered the Energy Lab looking clearly rejuvenated and we did the same thing. I couldn’t believe what I was witnessing, and neither could the run sweeper! Matt’s fastest mile splits of the day to that point were thru the Energy Lab! That was just astonishing, because no one EVER does that! They were all under 15 minutes per mile, despite the hills! He knew the reality of the situation, and he knew he had to dig deep.

The aid stations meanwhile were overly excited to see The Biggest Loser and help him with whatever he needed. They were so loud when he came thru, you would have thought it was a packed football stadium in an overtime game! As ironic or cliché as it sounds, he really fed off the energy he found from the people in the Energy Lab.

When we left the Energy Lab, the run sweeper was in disbelief. He said he’d been doing this for years and had never seen anything like it. He shouted to me with an incredulous smile, “If he keeps this up, he’ll make it!” It was getting very close though out on the Queen K, and Matt was reduced to intervals of jogging for 30 seconds, walk thirty seconds. There was no way we could walk anymore. He had to find a way to get it done for the last 10K.

NBC had a lot of his family meet him at the 23 mile marker, and running behind him cheering. Then vounteers from the aid stations were joining in. It was amazing how much people wanted to see him make it. When we hit mile 24, I did the math, and he was back over 15 minutes per mile. It was looking so close, that I knew our only hope would be the Palani downhill and hopefully the crowds could feed him their energy to get him there. We could hear Mike Reilly’s voice from way out on the Queen K, and Matt was reduced to a shuffle, but just focused on the voice getting louder. We started counting out-loud from 100 down to 1, over and over, all 20 of us now, just to help him take his mind away from the pain.

He hit Palani, and we had to let him go. I told him he had 9 mins to make it from the top of Palani, I had to go past and get to the finish. It would now be all on him.

At the finish, I witnessed the clock begin to expire, as I prayed for him to come around that final corner on Alii Drive, as though the miracle would continue. Mike Reilly counted down the final seconds, as I watched Richard Decker be the final official finisher. I had spent a good amount of time out on the course talking with Richard as well. He had no idea if he was going to make it, and I was constantly telling him he was fine, trying to keep him focused.

I had felt so bad for Richard. Here Matt was about 400-800 meters behind him, and all the attention of the world. Constantly given splits, crazy cheers, and NBC cameras and lights. Richard had none of that. He was alone. No one telling him if he was going to make it. I had to help him keep his sanity, and eyes on the prize. He thanked me out on the Queen K, telling me how kind of a person I was to consider him and help his mind thru those miles. But I could only imagine how hard it was for him. I felt an amazing joy for him in that moment of seeing him finish. His fists pumped in the air, and he reached out and gave me a high five before hitting the finish chute.

And the emotional roller coaster continued. Joy for Richard, and utter disappointment for Matt, as he came charging around the corner, and actually running. He had already missed it, but he didn’t know that. The crowd didn’t let on either. People were high-fiving him, the music was playing, and he was still so delirious, he stopped before the chute, not aware of where the finish line was. He just saw all the people. I yelled for him to keep going. He crossed the line with his arms raised. Turned back to the people who waited the extra 3 minutes and 35 seconds past midnight, to thank and acknowledge them for their support.

Months of hard work, and lots of suffering, to come so close. I wasn’t disappointed in Matt, but rather disappointed for him. He was definitely a guy who had a lot of pressure on him.

Many triathletes were upset that he got a free-ticket to the race. Others made horrible comments about his weight problems in online forums and lead-up to the race. One of the things we told him late on the Queen K was that many would like to see him fail.

Matt battled a need to change his mental approach from wrestling, where they try to cut calories and constantly feel weak and under-fueled, to that of an endurance athlete who must fuel constantly, and doesn’t deal with much body-image issues. It affected his ability to recover from workouts and his consistency. It was more than a physical battle for him, like most people who deal with weight issues.

Matt was one of the most unique individuals I have ever coached. He possessed a stubbornness, and competitiveness that I’ve rarely witnessed in sport. He was also very good with technique, almost improving his technique and skills overnight, as witnessed by his dramatic swim improvements. We battled a beast. We lost…just barely.

From crying in the morning pre-race, to just speechless at night after coming so close. I sat on the wall along Kailua Bay, and thought about it all. From Scott and Adam’s incredible performances, to when I first met Matt, and getting this opportunity. To his near medical discharge from the race just a few hours before. And now, his amazing comeback to miss it by 3:35.

My friend Ryan found me there, and handed me a beer. He didn’t say a word, just handed it to me. A much deserved Longboard Lager beer! I guess my facial expressions were enough to tell him.

As a coach, I will always wonder where I could have gotten those 3:35 back. What an experience…I can’t wait to go back next year.

Coach Vance

Monday, October 12, 2009

Kona Coach's Race Report Part 1

Wow, it's almost overwhelming to think of all the things that happened yesterday. It was one of the biggest emotional roller-coaster days of my life, but luckily, the highs were so incredible it is hard to sit and tell someone about them without becoming emotional.

Emotion was a huge part of the day. It was always a large part of my racing, and it continues to manifest itself on race day, even as a coach.

Got to the race-site with my athlete Scott, and helped all my athletes get everything set. After that, started walking to the start area and I called my wife around 5:30 AM. She asked me how it was going. Seemed like a typical enough question. I thought about it, and before I could say anything, I just started to cry. There I was walking thru a crowd of people, phone to my ear, and I’m starting to sob. I had to pull over to a corner and lean over to gather myself. It didn’t work. I cried harder, and all the while I couldn’t speak to Orlanda. She was still on the phone, hearing me breathe, and asking me, “What’s wrong?” I think she thought I was about to tell her some very bad news. But there was no bad news to tell her. In fact, everything was perfect. It was hard to imagine how long I had worked with my 3 athletes to get them there, healthy and prepared for the task of the day.

I also knew, rightly or wrongly, that I would be judged by what my athletes do that day. I think I also was dealing with a few of my own demons from leaving the sport, and here I was back on the island. I was prepared for a very long day, and it was a lot to handle and come to grips with at that moment. Orlanda understood. She has seen it all with me. Our conversation was brief, because I knew if I kept talking with her I would continue crying. Brian Long, longtime president of the Tri Club of San Diego, and good friend, saw me crying as well, and he helped me get my composure back.

Found the family and friends of my athlete Adam, and watched the start. It was quite a site to see. I never got to really see the pageantry of the event when I was racing. I was so focused on being race ready. It really has become a spectacle.

After the start we headed onto Palani, the big hill out of town, where all the athletes cross a few times early in the bike. I waited there with the family and friends of all my athletes, tracking and speaking with them as they came up the climb. First was Adam, with a great swim of 56 minutes, then Scott at 1:08, (not so great for him), and then Matt Hoover at 1:38, (FANTASTIC!)

The three athletes had astounding experiences. I knew Scott had a chance to go Top 10 in his age group, 30-34, and Adam I just wanted to have a solid race of all three. I had no idea where it would place him, but his confidence needed a boost from a solid race. Matt Hoover, The Biggest Loser winner, had a simple goal of “just finish.”

I had a plan to ride a bike during the run, checking on Scott and Adam at certain points in the race, riding up the road ahead. I couldn’t find a bike to rent or borrow, so I just went to Walmart and bought one. It was a good call, but a busted pedal late in the night made things interesting!

I had calculated that right about the time Adam and Scott would finish, Matt would probably just be starting the run. It’s amazing how it worked out almost exactly like that! I think it was 5 minutes from the time I saw Adam cross until Matt was walking on Kuikini.

Scott had an amazing day. 9:29 and 8th in 30-34 Men, amazing. He rebounded so well from his poor swim to ride strong all day and run well of the bike. He was one of the few athletes whose speeds got faster as the race went on. He followed the wattage plan, and ran according to the plan all the way. He struggled a bit on the Queen K for the run, coming back from the Energy Lab, but held on well enough to still pass a few more guys and finish with a smile on his face.

Adam had an incredible race, almost perfectly pacing his run. His best finish here ever, his fastest Ironman run ever, and nearly breaking 10 hours, with 10:04. I knew when he was so close to Scott in the Energy Lab, that he was going to hold on for a great race. He was so close with 2 miles to go, but he was just left to a shuffle and holding on. I was telling him all sorts of things, just to try and get him to go a little faster.

When he knew he wasn’t going to make it, he told me he was just going to enjoy Alii Drive. I followed him down and watched him cross the line on the big screen. I was really proud of him. 4 weeks after nutritional mistakes in Wisconsin lead to a meltdown on the run, he put it together and held on for the best Ironman performance of his career.

As if the day wasn’t long enough with their races, here came Matt Hoover off the bike. It was the start of something which I will never forget. It was truly one of the most inspirational and heart breaking things I have ever witnessed. I will share that in Part 2, tomorrow.

Coach Vance

Thursday, September 24, 2009

"20 Ways to Improve RIGHT NOW" talk at NYTRO - Wednesday Sept 30th

I will giving a free talk at NYTRO next Wednesday evening, which should help anyone who is at a plateau in performance and training, looking for their next breakthrough.

"20 Ways to Improve RIGHT NOW!"
Presented by Jim Vance, Elite Coach - TrainingBible Coaching
Wednesday, September 30th
6:15-7:45 PM @ NYTRO
Cost: FREE!!! (Food and drinks will also be provided courtesy of NYTRO)

I promise you will learn things you hadn't considered, and can apply to any of your upcoming races, from Sprint to Ironman.

Please RSVP to Jim Vance, jvance at trainingbible dot com.

Hope to see you there!

Coach Vance

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Race Nutrition Plans, Strategies and Philosophy

One of the mistakes I have made as a coach is assuming an athlete thinks the same as me in everything, just because they seem to have learned from me so many other things. Because of this, another one of the mistakes I've made as a coach is sometimes letting my athletes have too much control of their performance, and me not taking the bull by the horns.

Nutrition has always been something I figured was more personal, and more to an athlete's individual preferences. Lately, with more marketing dollars pushing more thoughts into the consciousness of athletes to think they need a certain drink product, salt tablet, or other electrolyte item, it appears the need for me to be more dominant in my athletes' nutritional plans is clear.

I want to address the largest and most common mistake I see in many athletes' nutritional plans for racing. I tell athletes to "maximize" their nutrition, but I apparently have not been clear on that.

Athletes so often think, "If I need X number of calories, then X + 300 must be better! And then X + 500 must be better than that! That's maximizing nutrition! Getting in the maximum amount I can!"

Herein lies the problem...A maximized nutrition plan is one which gives athletes the LEAST amount of calories needed to get the finish line while still able to meet their goals! They have maximized the production of output per input of calorie! That's maximization!

When athletes start consuming more calories than are needed, their stomach is required to do more work. As the intensity of the race increases, (swimming to biking to running is generally an increase in the intensity on the body), the stomach becomes more irritable, and begins to shut down. The body instead wants to fuel the working muscles with blood, rather than the stomach. If you've ever had bloating, severe stomach nausea, diarrhea, or vomiting in a race, it is most likely from your nutritional strategy being too many calories! (Or too much salt, electrolytes, protein or whatever else you may be putting down your throat.)

If you're heading into a late season Ironman, or even key races of Olympic to Half distances, calculate how many calories you are consuming, and make sure it's only as much as you need! How many is that? In a very general sense, it's 300 per hour on the bike and 200 per hour on the run. Don't neglect the positive caloric effects of a large breakfast!

Double check your plan and be sure to tweak it in your training, as we are coming down to crunch time. Don't waste all your months of training by over-eating on race day. Keep it minimal, and maximize the calories you do get in.

Coach Vance

PS - For the record, I do not want my athletes putting anything in their stomachs other than plain calories. No salt, no protein, no electrolytes. But that is another post in itself!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Santa Rosa Swim Clinic This Saturday

If you’re in the San Francisco Bay area, and are interested in getting help with your swim stroke, I’m conducting a clinic in Santa Rosa this Saturday morning. I promise you will learn more in this clinic than you’ve ever learned about swimming in one setting!

This clinic is designed for triathletes and coaches, as an opportunity to learn and understand the principles of triathlon swimming and apply this directly to athletes. I will be presenting on The 3 Most Important Technical Aspects of Swimming, and will be working with EVERY ATHLETE.

Participating Athletes: $80, limited to 15, ($10 discount to triathlon club members)

Package includes:

- 2 videos of underwater filming of athlete swimming in pool

- Lecture on the principles of triathlon swimming in classroom setting

- Direct review of athlete’s swim video in classroom setting

- Copy of underwater videos for the athlete, emailed to them.

- Q&A session

Check out what some others have said about my swim clinics, and I’m sure you’ll be glad you signed up!

Registration and information can be found here…

Coach Vance

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

It's great to influence others...

A great blog post from a young woman in Madison, who has helped me set-up the clinics I will be running there this week...

If you're going to be in Madison, come on out for some of my events...

When: Thursday, September 10, 2009
Time: 6pm - 8pm
Place: SBR Coaching & Training Center
403 Venture Court, Ste 1
Verona, WI 53593
(608) 695-8942
Cost: FREE!!!
RSVP: jvance at trainingbible dot com

Also will be doing a course talk by the swim entrance, on Saturday, at 8 AM.

Really excited, and looking forward to sharing a lot with the triathlon community of Madison!

Coach Vance

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Clinics in Madison, Wisconsin during Ironman week

I'll be heading to Madison, Wisconsin to conduct a free talk on swimming, and then doing a day devoted to underwater swim video analysis sessions with athletes.

At the talk, I will discuss the key principles to faster speeds in the water, in simple
terms, for everyone to understand. If you’re wondering why you’re not getting any faster in
the water, this FREE talk will be able to help.

When: Thursday, September 10, 2009
Time: 6pm - 8pm
Place: SBR Coaching & Training Center
403 Venture Court, Ste 1
Verona, WI 53593
(608) 695-8942
Cost: FREE!!!

I will also be scheduling Underwater Swim Video Analysis one-on-one sessions.
The Underwater Swim Video Analysis will consist of:
-Underwater video of swim technique
-Classroom film session, breaking down technique and identifying issues
-Copy of videos and document of items discussed for improvement
-Full Q&A session

When: Friday, September 11, 2009 (Some limited spots available on Thursday!)
Time: APPOINTMENT ONLY, limited space available
Place: Pinnacle Health & Fitness
5973 Executive Drive, Fitchburg, WI 53719
(608) 278-8118

Cost: 60 min session, $75 single-person, $100 two-person session

RSVP to Jim Vance at jvance at trainingbible dot com and indicate which event you would like
to participate in or whether you are interested in participating in both!

A flyer with all this information is available here.

Hope to see you all there!

Coach Vance

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Half-Ironman Bike Workouts?

Just about everyday I receive an email from an athlete who is seeking advice or guidance in some facet, for some sport. Many times it is about training, but sometimes they are looking for a mental recharge and guidance on how to do find the inner desire, but normally the questions are general and they seek advice.

I got an email today from an athlete, and I thought this would be a great venue to share my thoughts on their question with everyone.

"I am training for a half ironman and i want to know what you think is the most beneficial cycling workout one could do. If its a long ride how hard should i go or tempo ride or intervals. What workouts have given you success at the half ironman distance? Thanks a lot

Thanks for the email, Kile. I'll do my best to give you the guidance you're looking for. I wish I could tell you exactly what workouts are perfect and will result in undeniable success, but that's just not the case with training or coaching. Each athlete is so different.

It's very tough to answer because I do not know anything about your athletic history to really know and understand your strengths and weaknesses. I'm also not aware of your goals, and the risk which must be taken in training to accomplish those. If you're trying to win your age-group and grab a rare Kona slot at a half, more risk is required, which could result in injury if not tailored more specifically to you.

Even if I gave you a list of key workouts for a half, you might not give yourself enough recovery between workouts to accomplish them with success, or may not have the fitness required to accomplish them, especially if your goal is just to finish or place modestly. This doesn't even take into account the demands of the race course, (elevation, wind, temperature, etc), and the strategies you might employ whether your strength is the swim, bike or run.

However, I can tell you that if you research the race and its demands on you, relative to the goals you have set for yourself at the event, then you will just need to structure your training to meet those demands. For example, we know you will probably be between 2.5 and 3 hours, if you're like most athletes, and therefore you need to be prepared to do a steady state effort of 2.5 to 3 hours in length.

If all you're doing are group rides of 2-3 hours in length where you sit in a pack and/or attack off the front, then you're probably not preparing for the specific demands of a half-ironman.

So what do I suggest? If you had the time, I would suggest preparing the early part of the season for technical improvements in your cycling, (pedal stroke, high cadence work, position, etc), basic aerobic endurance, and then begin to move more specifically to the demands of the half-ironman, assuming it is your A-priority race for the season. This would be done with probably shorter intervals at first, with modest rest periods, moving to longer interval sessions, with possibly less rest periods as well. Once in awhile, and if time permits, I would include some longer steady-state rides as well.

It definitely requires a lot of knowledge about the athlete for the coach to successfully do their job. This is why communication with your coach is important if you have one, and the reason why people hire coaches.

Best of luck Kile, and I hope the general strategy I've laid out helps you accomplish your goals!

Coach Vance

Monday, August 24, 2009

Article on Leaning Forward

I am now a contributing writer for, and here is the first article I wrote for them, on leaning forward while running.

Lean Forward for Faster Running

If you asked many triathletes how much technique matters to running, they'd probably tell you not much. I find this thinking very obvious when I look at the attendance differences between swim clinics and running clinics. People recognize clearly that swimming is technical-based, but very few seem to believe that running has technical demands as well.

There seems to be a prevalent line of thinking that you're either a runner or you're not, nothing in between. If athletes just took the time to understand the physics involved in running, perhaps they would see how much technical improvements can really matter to their run performances.

Read the rest at Finishline-Multisport.

Coach Vance

Monday, August 17, 2009

Renata Bucher 2009

It's a rare and great opportunity when you get to work with one of the world's best, and I have been given such with Renata Bucher. Renata is one of the most dominant females XTERRA has ever seen. This year, we have seen a lot of great results working together, and my hope is to continue it.

This past weekend she won XTERRA Germany, (pictured). It got me thinking about everything we've accomplished this year so far. Here are just the victories we've accomplished this year together:

Portobelo International Champion
SuperFrog Half-Ironman Champion
XTERRA Saipan Champion
Tagaman Triathlon Champion
XTERRA Italy Champion
XTERRA Vermont Champion
XTERRA Malaysia Champion
XTERRA Germany Champion

For her career, she now has 19 XTERRA Championship victories, in 11 different countries.

Congratulations Renata. You are tenaciously competitive, and a fighter. It's what your competition fears most about you. Hopefully we can add Maui to this list sometime soon.

Coach Vance

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Tuesday Night Track Sessions in San Diego

If you're a good runner, looking to become a better runner, or know good runners looking for a good run workout on the track, check out my Tuesday night track workout for the Tri Club of San Diego. It's quickly becoming one of the best in the county.

Every Tuesday night, at University City High School, with the workout starting at 6:10. Warm-up is on your own before then. Workout will be anywhere from 4-5K mostly. Later in the season, we will build to 5x1 mile for the top group, 3x1 mile for the lower groups.

We have some really good runners in our front pack, including a number of collegiate runners. Always looking for more, and more are welcome. All that's asked is that you be a member of the Tri Club of San Diego, as I donate my time for their workout.

If you're intimated by fast runners, don't worry, we are divided among abilities, and volumes are adjusted as well. We have seen some great improvements across all groups, and I'm pretty excited about what we've got going on. If you're looking for a great group environment and quality work on the track, I think you should check us out.

Hope to see you out there!

Coach Vance

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Competitors Radio Interview with Matt Hoover

As many of you know, I am coaching Matt Hoover, who won Season 2 of The Biggest Loser, the NBC hit reality weight-loss show. Here is a great interview of him when he was here in San Diego, with the Competitors Radio Show...

It was Cam Brown, superstar of Ironman, and myself with Matt in studio. Bob Babbitt and Paul Huddle are the famous hosts of the show, and we had a great time with them. You can't hear me, because they only had 4 microphones, but you can hear me in the background say that Matt will finish a few minutes behind Cam! :-)

Matt is competing at his first half-ironman in a few weeks, at Lake Stevens 70.3, so we're looking forward to his first big "hit-out".

Kona is coming, and it's been great to see his progression so far. Looking forward to see him run down Alii Drive!

Coach Vance

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Active Article for Open Water Swim Drills

Wrote this article for, after seeing some questions on their forums about open water drills and skills.

3 Drills for Open Water Swimming

By Jim Vance

One of the most common group workouts involves gathering with friends and heading out into the open water for a swim. When the weather is warm, this can become a weekly ceremony where athletes just enjoy getting out in the open water.

Most athletes will perform these sessions unstructured, with the focus being simple aerobic development and socializing. What these athletes are missing out on is a great opportunity to gain sport-specific skills for open-water swimming. This can easily be accomplished by giving the workout some structure.

Read the rest at

Coach Vance

Monday, July 27, 2009

Always go to the roll-down for Ironman

This year, so many athletes will skip the awards ceremony and roll-down of Kona slots at Ironman races all over the world, thinking they don't stand a chance of getting a slot. I recently wrote an article on the topic of what times traditionally it takes to qualify for Kona, published in Triathlete Magazine, so perhaps I am guilty of spreading of this thinking.

Of course, sometimes the odds just don't matter and it pays to show up. Take a look at the two highlighted qualifiers below, in the Men's 30-34 division, namely their times and places within their age group: (click on image to enlarge)

Yes, one placed 46th, the other 161st, out of only 210 athletes in the division! I'm sure a lot of guys are kicking themselves right now.

Coach Vance

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Simon Whitfield and the Mind of Racing

As a coach, I am finding myself spending more time working on the minds of my athletes, than on their physical training. The mind controls the body. If you have the fastest car on the track, it doesn't matter if the driver can't drive it well enough. Or worse, if the driver crashes it. It's a fine line, and what works with one athlete doesn't necessarily work with another.

So I continue to try and find ways to communicate effectively with my athletes, on the power of the mind. Just this week I offered my athletes the opportunity to work with a sports psychiatrist, for free. I hope to learn more about what makes them tick, and more importantly, what it may be which is holding them back.

Today, I read this race report at Simon Whitfield's blog, and it was impressive to me how well he spoke of the mind and its affect on his performance. I have an admiration for him and the way he conducts himself, his hard work, his voice for change, his competitiveness and his longevity in the sport. He has two Olympic medals to his name, and host of major victories. Last summer in Beijing, he was out-sprinted by Jan Frodeno, "Frodo". This report is from his most recent victory at the Hy-Vee Triathlon, which yielded him $200,000 for the win, and revenge over Frodo.

More importantly, this victory came 6 days after one of the lowest days in the sport for him, a DNF at the Washington DC race. A race he was considered a favorite for, and was never a factor.

I share this from his blog because he took control of his mind. So many times he had reason to quit, so many things went against him, and yet he won the biggest purse in the sport. Read on...

Monday, June 29, 2009

and then that happened

well I'm home.

and seeing Pippa launch herself at me for a hug when I arrived with "daddy daddy" was priceless. I wished I could just hit rewind over and over again, to see her reaction and to hear Jennie say "ahhhhhhh, Pippa misses daddy".

Life rolls on.

After the good races and the bad. I kept that perspective all week after the debacle in Washington, "so that happened". It happened and I moved on. I sought council to which I have access to some of the best advice out there and I sought refuge in talking and texting with Jennie as much as possible. She told me about the park, and the beach, and the playground, and the tantrums, and the laughs and finally about Pippa just wanting to run everywhere, from tree to tree all the way to the park.

After Washington I took 2 days completely off, regrouped, listened to Iron and Wine and Bon Iver when I wasnt texting/talking to Jennie. I flew into Des Moines on wednesday after a delayed flight because of the crazy storms on tuesday night and just rolled with it. Delayed flight "whatever", bike doesn;t show up "oh well", just rolled with it. My first run in three days was wednesday morning, 20mins of :30sec on/:30 off (thanks to Paulo for that piece of wisdom on gmail) "fight the temptation to just go for an easy run eh, get out there and punch the cobwebs out no matter how you feel". So I ran along the grass under the power lines in Minni (by the mall of America) and even though I felt like crap at first I just "punched the cobwebs" out with 20x:30 secs.

When I arrived in Des Moines the National Team Coach Phillippe Bertand took me to the lake as I hadn't swum in 3 days and put me through a moderate but effective session and gave me a great stroke cue to focus on, "simon da rhythm, find dha rhythm, think about McCartney's stroke" (in his fun english) and I did. I just thought about that fantastic rhythm Andrew has and instead of trying to over power the water I just settled into my "andrew rhythm" and felt much much better.

The next couple days were good, slept a lot, relaxed, didn't think once about Washington, I didn't search for confidence from one workout or another, just immersed myself in the process of getting ready and put one foot in front of the other.

And I arrived on the start line without any expectation, fear or excitement. I made a particularly smart tactical move when picking my swim spot (if I do say so myself) and took a deep breath before the gun went off and we were away.

I didn't feel great in the swim, it was harder then it usually is and I just tried to focus on AMAC rhythm, who ended up winning the swim and the $5000 that went with it. Out of the water I was side by side with Brent and Kyle. We rolled through transition together and out onto the bike. Again I didn't feel great, rolled through a couple times, got up the front then had to regroup. I just didn't have any zip, my calf was starting to hurt and that voice in the back of my head was trying to place doubts "you're just not ready to race" "somethings wrong, just drop out". I didn't ignore it, I heard it, I just didn't listen. I just kept moving along, up the front, in the pack, at the back and tried to look for something positive. Again on the run I really didn't feel great, I just thought I'd run along at a steady pace and see what unfolded. Brad, Frodo and Gemmel ran away from me straight away and I just kept running my pace. Eventually Jarrod and Javier passed me, still no energy to respond. When Brent passed me I gave him some encouragement and just kept the same pace.

And they started coming back, it seemed like 'two steps forward, one step back', I'd almost catch them, someone would surge and I'm be off again. I just kept thinking about form and breathing, ignored my position and simply paced myself back up to them only to be dropped again. Finally on the last lap, about 1/4 of the way through after Gomez had made his play and the pace had settled then slowed I actually made it back on for good. We settled into an uneasy "who will go first" pace and the pace was timid. I actually thought Brent who was charging after us might just catch us and blow right by.

Two Canadians to worry about.

We positioned ourselves into the final 180, Brad accelerated to the first right hand turn where I'm sure he wanted to get to first but Kris ducked in on the inside and I followed, through the next right Kris pushed the pace and strung us out into a line but I had managed to grab second through the turns and as Kris drifted wide right towards the finishing shoot I took off without hesitation or thought aside from the exact same thought I had in Beijing "jolly O here we go". I actually felt them coming up on all sides, I could sense someone on my left (Frodo) and my right (Brad), I held my line past the barrier where Frodo lost a step getting around it and drove as hard as I could to the finish. I felt this absolute determination that I wasn't losing this damn sprint, after two second place finishes at $200,000 races and one second place finish in a sprint finish I've played over and over again in my mind..... I celebrated.

and that's what happened.


Congrats to Simon. His mind is his biggest talent.

Monday, June 22, 2009

TriJuniors FREE Open Water Swim Clinic for Parents and Teens

Please help me spread the word about this great event, for youth development in triathlon! TriJuniors is hosting a FREE open water clinic to any high school aged kids and their parents! The event is on Sunday afternoon, after the San Diego International Triathlon, at Ventura Cove.

If you know a parent of a high schooler who might be interested in TriJuniors, or who want to share the fun of triathlon with their kids, please share the linked flyer and/or following information:

Who: Parents and their teens, interested in triathlon and TriJuniors,

What: A FREE open-water swim clinic for parents and their high school aged kids, as well as Q&A with Coach Jim Vance about TriJuniors, to answer questions about the team, support, race and practice schedules, etc.

When: Sunday, June 28th, 1-2:30 PM

Where: Ventura Cove, Mission Bay Drive, (http://tinyurl. com/crm5vh) Map provided on flyer.

Flyer is available at this link:

Food and drinks will be provided to all attending. Please RSVP to Jim Vance at

Please help us promote and grow the sport among high school youth with this free and fun event, and pass this information on.


Coach Vance

Friday, June 19, 2009

Practice Schedule for TriJuniors Finalized

I have begun to finalize the TriJuniors practice schedule, and created everything in a Google calendar, which should be up on the website shortly. The website is scheduled to be finished this afternoon.

The practice sessions will be during the evening hours during the weekdays, and in the AM hours on the weekends.

A typical week will look like...

Monday - Off from training
Tuesday - 5:30 - 7:30 PM at University City High School track
Wednesday - Every other Wednesday evening will be an open water swim workout, at Ventura Cove in Mission Bay, 5:30 - 7:15 PM
Thursday - On the alternate weeks from Wednesday practices, there will be a Thursday evening practice session, with details and venue still TBD based upon enrollment of athletes
Friday - Practice on their own
Saturday - AM session at 8 AM to 11 AM, or race, or travel to race venue for light and easy practice, details of practice and venue TBD
Sunday - AM session at 9 AM to noon, or race, details of practice and venue TBD

So one week athletes will have organized workouts on Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, while the following week it will be Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.

Why the details of practice and venue TBD? (TBD = to be determined)
The reasons for the practice venue and details of the session being TBD, is because we need to find venues which are close to the athletes, but also meet their needs. If the athletes need mostly swim help, then we will do these sessions at a pool, or some sort of venue for swimming. If the athletes all come from one part of town, then I will likely put the venues as close to them as possible.

Athletes will be expected to complete some training sessions on their own, which will be clearly communicated to them via accounts with

If there are other questions you'd like to see answered, please feel free to leave a comment, or send me an email at

Looking forward to the season!

Coach Vance

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Preview article for Ironman Coeur d'Alene 2009

I wrote this preview article for this weekend's Ironman Coeur d'Alene, for Triathlete Magazine's website...

Ironman Coeur d’Alene Race Preview

Written by: Jim Vance

Ironman Coeur d’Alene will take place on Sunday, June 21. This year’s race features strong pro fields on both the men’s and women’s sides, with participants battling for the first major title of the season.

Looking at the entry list, it looks like it would be difficult to guess who might be among the favorites, but there is a historical pattern to the plot that plays out similarly in many elite Ironman races.

The first pattern is that half of the favorites for the top-10 will falter, whether its from mechanicals, injuries, poor fitness, or mistakes. The winner of the race will come down to who executes best on race day, maximizing their fitness and training with sound pacing and nutritional decisions.

Read the rest at

Coach Vance

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

TriJuniors FAQ's

Starting a junior triathlon program in an area which has never seen one, means there are plenty of questions. I want this team to be a great success, and hopefully these FAQ’s will help make that happen.

TriJuniors FAQ’s

What is TriJuniors?

TriJuniors is committed to promoting and developing the sport of triathlon among high school age youth, in a team atmosphere, from beginner to elite ability levels, in San Diego County.

Athletes in the TriJuniors program will build skills and learn goal setting and pursuing goals. With hard work and fun, young triathletes will build a healthy lifestyle from their experiences in this positive environment for personal growth both in the sport, and in life.

TriJuniors will also support certain athletes displaying a desire and potential ability to compete at the highest level of the sport for their age, with a more focused and determined training regimen and development protocol toward ITU draft-legal triathlon.

What age does my child have to be to participate?

TriJuniors is focused on growing the sport among high school aged youth, so if your child is anywhere from 13-18, this is a team they can participate on. If your child is going to be in the 9th grade, they are welcomed to join, as are high school seniors who have just graduated. In the future, TriJuniors hopes to expand to other age groups, but at this point believe this is where the focus needs to be.

Who is the head coach?

Jim Vance is the head coach of the team. Jim holds an elite triathlon license, and is a level 2 USA Triathlon Certified Coach. Jim is also a two-time amateur world champion in triathlon, for XTERRA and ITU. He has even seen success at the Ironman level, with multiple top 8 finishes, including 3rd at Ironman Florida in 2006, in a time of 8:37:09. Jim is a former school teacher, who holds a BS in physical education, and using his background in teaching to be an effective, high-performance coach to both youth and adults.

My child is just beginning to learn the sport, is this program only for elites?

No, not at all. The mission of this team is to first and foremost grow the sport by exposing it to youth. However, athletes who possess a desire and ability to compete at an elite level for their age, will be given the support and opportunity to do so, as well as encouraged. This is why one of the major races on the team's schedule is the Junior Elite Cup at Strawberry Fields, to expose the kids to draft-legal ITU style racing. It is an extremely fun and exciting style of racing, which will be a unique opportunity for them to experience.

How long is the TriJuniors season? What is their race schedule?

The TriJuniors season will begin with official practices on Sunday, June 21st, at 9 AM, until noon. The season will culminate at the Nautica Malibu events on September 19th & 20th. The race schedule includes the following:

- Strawberry Fields Triathlon, July 19th, 2009 (Junior Elite Cup)
- TCSD Monthly Club Races
TCSD Monthly Aquathlons
Solana Beach Triathlon, July 26th, 2009
- Imperial Beach Triathlon, August 23rd, 2009
- Nautica Malibu Triathlon, September 19th & 20th, 2009

Other races may be added, depending on experience and ability level of kids on the team.

Why is the season so short?

Because TriJuniors is in the initial stages of development as a program, and with it’s focus on high school kids, the summer months are the perfect window of opportunity to start, since kids tend to have less conflicts with other sports and school events. In the future, TriJuniors hopes to become a year-round program.

How often do they practice? What time are the practices held?

There will be a minimum of 2 practice sessions held during the week, but sometimes more. On the weekends, athletes can expect to have practice both Saturday and Sunday, unless there is a race event.

Weekday practice sessions will be held in the afternoons to evenings, while weekend sessions will be held in the AM. A Google calendar will be posted in the coming weeks on the TriJuniors website, with a complete practice and travel schedule, as well as directions to each venue.

Where do they conduct their training sessions?

This is still being determined, based on the location of the majority of athletes who register for the team. Parents and athletes can expect sessions at a variety of different venues, from open water, to pool, to tracks and trails.

What if my child can not attend some of the sessions?

Though attendance will be highly encouraged, it is not mandatory. Athletes will be given a account, which will have all their training listed, and act as their training log and communication tool with Coach Vance. They will be able to upload heart rate information, power data, GPS data from runs, rides, etc. This account will belong to them, and they are free to use for many years.

If they can’t attend a practice session, they will be expected to complete the training on their own, which will be detailed in TrainingPeaks.

How much does it cost to have my child participate?

The season is 3 months long, at $225 per month, or at a discounted rate of one lump payment of $600 for the season. This will cover all the coaching costs, practice sessions offered, Triathlon Club of San Diego membership, as well as some apparel and other items to be determined. Costs for race registration and other items are not included in this cost. However, every attempt will be made to help members of the team receive discounted rates for races, and other needs.

What sorts of equipment does my child need to participate?

Athletes in the program will need a road bike, helmet, wetsuit, and running shoes, at a minimum. Training apparel, such as bike shorts, swim suits, and other items are highly recommended.

Will sponsors be providing anything for my kids?

Right now the only sponsorship is from TrainingBible Coaching, which is devoting a large amount of funds and time to start the program, and help it be a success. It is certainly expected that athletes within the program will benefit greatly from sponsor relationships with TriJuniors. However, with the program still in its beginning stages, no equipment sponsorships have been finalized, due to final athlete numbers still being determined. Once the numbers are determined, effective sponsorship agreements will be sought, which will benefit all members of the team, not just a few.

Where do I register my child for the team?

Your child can register for the entire season, or just monthly, at the following link:

What can I do to help the program? Where can I find out more information?

There are so many ways you can help this program, but the biggest and easiest way to help us is to tell people about us! Let them know about our program, and how they can get their children involved in the sport!

You can share about us via:

Twitter: @TriJuniors

FaceBook: TriJuniors

If you’d like more information, want to volunteer to be involved with our team as a coach, or are interested in sponsoring the team, or some other capacity, please contact Jim Vance at

Thanks for your support of TriJuniors!

Coach Vance