Monday, January 26, 2009

Free Talk at B+L - February 9, 2008

I will be speaking at B+L Bikes each month, starting in February, with a free lecture on a variety of topics.

February 9th, 2009 (2nd Monday) 6:15 PM @ B+L San Diego

Training With Technology – Power and HR, (cyclists and triathletes)

TrainingBible Coach Jim Vance will discuss how power meters and HR monitors can be used to help athletes in their training. He will discuss and explains the benefits and pitfalls, so self-coached athletes can more accurately assess their training and fitness.

If you have topic ideas, please feel free to pass them on to me. Stay tuned for more info on other talks.

Coach Vance

Friday, January 23, 2009

Introducing a Supplemental Swim Training Plan with Video

As a coach, one of the things which I've noticed is the apprehensiveness of many athletes to completely commit to a pre-devised training plan. So many athletes feel there is little flexibility in the plans, and in many ways feel the plans don't relate to them and their training environment, routines, etc.

This is something all coaches and athletes battle. Coaches are trying to create plans which will work for most athletes, but still address the individual needs of each athlete as much as possible. Athletes want to find a plan which works with their individual schedule and goals, as well as addresses their individual weaknesses.

Some athletes feel they are great runners or cyclists, and know what they need to do in their training to continue with that success level, but maybe need more help with the swim. It can be hard to find a training plan which matches the philosophy of both coach and athlete.

Attempting to build on the success of my iPod Training Plans, I sought an alternative to the complete, all-or-nothing training plans, while still maximizing the opportunity for success with each athlete. The result of this endeavor is the new "Supplemental" style of training plans I am offering. The first plan I am offering is a
Supplemental Swim Training Plan with Video. This a 10-week plan intended for athletes who are training for anywhere from Sprint to Half-Ironman distances.

"Supplemental" means this is not a complete training plan for a triathlon. Athletes can just insert this swim plan into their regular training plan, supplementing their bike and run training. This is strictly a system of drills and accompanied swim workouts for athletes to use to add a new component to their swim training. Athletes who are self-coached and are in need of some more swim instruction, or those who may not have access to a coach on deck, or aren’t in a masters program, will find this swim program helpful. Athletes can also adjust and manipulate the workouts to fit their skill level and race demands.

This allows athletes to have more control over their own training, yet still get the help they seek in the areas specific to them. No longer will athletes have to feel apprehensive, nor that they have to give in fully to a pre-devised training plan.

The main difference between this new supplemental plan and my earlier swim video training plan is that this spreads the drills, videos and skills out over 10 weeks, and I have included specific workouts, to incorporate and expand on the drills, not just the drills by themselves. These are the key workouts in the week for the athlete, to use as they see fit.

Stay tuned for more supplemental-style training plans!

Coach Vance

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Break It Down

This is the other article in this month's issue of Competitor Magazine, called Break It Down. Enjoy...

The most important training you do may happen after the race.

If you visit any running, cycling or triathlon forums on the Internet, you'll notice the popularity of race reports. We all seem to love the storytelling which goes with our adventures, especially in longer races - where so many things happen, the toughest part is remembering them all for the report!

Many athletes enjoy writing the report and talking about the funny instances, the pain and discomfort (at times) and the lows and extreme highs of their performance. However, most are missing a quality opportunity to assess their race, performance, strategy, nutrition, pace and even confidence or motivation in some cases.

If you're tempted to write a race report, it's fine to make it enjoyable for others to read, but be sure to use it as tool to be honest and objective with yourself. In fact, a race report should be more for your use as an evaluation tool than as an entertainment tool for others.

With as much time as athletes put into training and preparation for an event, probably the most effective use of time comes after the race; in truthfully assessing your performance and how closely it matched your expectations. If it didn't match, what were some of the causes? Were you under-confident in yourself, and performed much better than you expected? Did you overestimate your fitness, or underestimate the course and conditions?

What types of things can be learned from this reflection and evaluation? It may seem unimportant once the race is over, but if you ever plan to return to a similar endeavor, this opportunity is golden!

Read the rest of the article at Competitor Magazine.

Coach Vance

Thursday, January 15, 2009

What's your excuse?

Yesterday, one of my athlete's wife gave birth to a healthy boy. He still put in an hour on the treadmill and 45 mins on the trainer. The run was optional, and I didn't even have the trainer ride scheduled.

His son was born, and he got two workouts in. Next time you're looking for an excuse to not get the workouts done, think of him.

Congrats Scott!

Coach Vance

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

New Training Plans Added

I've created some new training plans, which can be linked to on the right, under Jim Vance Training Plans. One is a new 12-week sprint triathlon plan, which has been very popular without me even announcing it. Another plan is an 18-week half-ironman training plan. The other is a new 21-week marathon training plan, which is an improved and much more detailed version of the plan I wrote for Competitor Magazine. If you liked that plan, I think you'll love this version even more!

Of course, I still have iPod training plans, which are great for those of you with an iPod video, and are wanting some swim help, or home strengthening routines because you can't get to a gym. These videos have helped me a lot with my clients as a coach, attaching the videos in their daily logs on Training Peaks, to help illustrate the exact drills and exercises I want them to perform. Without the videos, it is difficult to explain effectively with words alone. (Ever tried to explain sculling to a new swimmer?)

Pre-built training plans offer a great, lower-cost alternative to higher-priced coaching packages, but still offer a periodized layout and plan which 90+% of athletes will benefit from, if they follow it properly.

More plans are on the way, but if you have any ideas or special requests, I'm happy to listen to what needs people have for training plans.

Coach Vance

Monday, January 12, 2009

Strategizing Your First Marathon

This is an article I wrote recently for Competitor Magazine, for my monthly training column. If you get Competitor Magazine in your area, then pick it up and check out my column. This is not the only column for January from me, so you'll have to pick it up to see what the other column is about. Enjoy!

26.2 miles is a daunting task. 26.2 miles of running hard is even more daunting. Visions of a possible meltdown in the last 10K can fill a runner's mind, as the race always seems to come down to those final, critical miles. It doesn't matter if you're doing it after 112 miles on a bike, or if you're toeing the line fresh and tapered.

If this is your first marathon, then the enormity of the training, not just the race, can seem daunting as well. It seems as though there are a million little things to learn and be conscious of. With this in mind, it's important to focus on the most critical factors which will lead to a successful performance at the marathon. If you want to do well at the distance, focus on these key points and you're certain to maximize all the hard work you've invested.

You can read more at Competitor Magazine.

Coach Vance

Friday, January 9, 2009

Skip Gilbert, CEO of USA Triathlon, and my article

I wrote Skip Gilbert, the CEO of USA Triathlon, an email and brought his attention to my article on, discussing USAT and the pursuit of Olympic medals. I wanted to share the email exchange because I think it's important to show that as an individual member of USAT, you do have a say and can communicate with the leadership to bring about changes or new ideas, or show support for certain things you feel are important or effective.

Hi Jim,

Good article indeed. Thanks for sharing.

We are always trying to bridge the gap between the elite athletes and our age-group members. Interesting element is that even within our elite funding, some say we focus too much on the Olympics and that we should do more with Ironman and Xterra.

The only point I would raise specific to your article is that while the elite Olympic focus was the top program voted by staff, that was leading up to an Olympic Year. If we took a poll today, I would bet that program would fall close to the bottom. Probably common sense but just wanted to make that point.

Thanks again and I will be sharing this article with our Board, Committee Chairs and other parties within my bi-weekly Board Packet.


From: Jim Vance []
Sent: Tuesday, January 06, 2009 12:16 PM
To: Skip Gilbert
Subject: Article of interest for you


Thought I would bring this article to your attention. I wrote it, and after reading one of the your blogs/articles where you wanted to hear about people's feelings and thoughts on the elite development, I felt it was relevant to you and your pursuits with USAT.

Best of luck.


Jim Vance

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

USAT and the Pursuit of Olympic Medals

This article I wrote is posted over at Enjoy!

One of the common debates happening in the sport of triathlon deals with the amount of resources used and money spent by USA Triathlon on elite athlete development and the pursuit of Olympic medals. Some USAT members feel there is no need to invest in this pursuit as a governing body, while others feel the pursuit does not go far enough, and should include elite-level coaching development, and athlete recruitment as well.

The debate may stem from some age-groupers not being able to relate to the International Triathlon Union’s draft-legal racing style on the bike, (commonly called “ITU racing”), and the fact there are few of those high-profile races in the US in a given year, in order to get exposed to this type of racing. This type of racing is only available for elite level triathletes, and therefore perceived of having no direct significance to most USAT members.

Take the fact many age-groupers aren't readily able to describe why a USAT membership is beneficial to them, save for a few bucks saved at registration at many events, and you can begin to understand the reasons they wonder why money is being spent on such a select few athletes and coaches, and not really benefiting them directly.

USAT staff ranked the “Elite Olympic Team” as the number one program of importance, in a 2008 survey, well ahead of other age-grouper related programs, such as the Age Group National Championships, sanctioning, and clubs. [1]

You can read the rest of the article, and view the charts and sources, at

Coach Vance

Monday, January 5, 2009

TrainingBible Coaching Training Camp - Tuscon, AZ, March 12-15, 2009

One of the things I'm always amazed at is how much "Triathlon Camps" cost! What the hell? I know you're learning a lot probably, but wow, $5000??? Food and rooms not included??? (I won't name the companies, you can just search and find out for yourself.)

If you're a TraininBible Coaching client, (heck, even if you're not), we've got a great camp for you.

The camp takes place in Tucson, AZ, right around the time of the TriFest, the biggest triathlon festival in the sport! March 12-15, 2009. We'll be working with our clients over the 3-4 days on each sport, and doing some training as well as teaching. This will include swimming, biking and running. I'll even have my underwater camera there to work with athletes on their swimming, which some coaches charge a bundle for as it is!

Register with Jim Vance at

Spend the weekend training with your coach in beautiful warm Tuscon AZ. Cost: $100 for TBC Coached athletes. $300 for non-coached athletes. This cost does not include lodging or meals.

If you're a TrainingBible client, this is a great opportunity for you, whether your coach is there or not! Our coaching staff will work with you to get you on the right foot and headed for success in 2009!

If you're not a TrainingBible client, then this is still THE BEST DEAL AROUND! You'll get 3 days of attention from our coaching staff and learn the key items to help you see success in 2009! AND IT'S ONLY $300!!! Try to find that from the other coaching companies!!! Show me a better deal, I challenge you!

Hope to see you there!

Coach Vance

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Keeping Your Cool

This is an article I wrote a few months ago for Competitor Magazine, and hadn't published it here yet....

Competing in a triathlon can put you through the ringer physically as well as emotionally, especially when things go awry. But keeping a level head can be the difference between the finish line and disaster.

Pushing one foot in front of the other, I glance to the right, and check the mile marker. It reads 23. Amazing. Just over 5K to go! How many times in my life have I run a 5K? So simple. So easy. Suddenly, there's a slight spring to my step. I can feel my foot-strike improve, and the sense of rhythm and speed begins to return. It has been perhaps the darkest four miles of my life prior to this moment. I've walked through aid stations, trying to grab everything I can; worried I won't be able to run again. My only focus and hope? GET TO THE NEXT AID STATION! DON'T STOP MOVING! Meanwhile, I keep looking behind me with a few prayers here and there not to let fourth place catch me.

With less than one mile to go, I realize I'm going to podium at an Ironman. I feel a cold rush over my body, goose bumps visible. Without control, my eyes begin to swell up, my breathing accelerates. I'm overcome with the emotion of perhaps my greatest success in the sport of triathlon (heck, maybe one of my greatest in life). The many hours and sacrifices are all being cashed in. With half a mile to go, I'm crying. I round the final corner - Mike Reilly's voice brings me home - I jump up and down, pump my fists and grab the finish tape, yelling at the top of my lungs.....

Read more at Competitor Magazine.

Coach Vance

Friday, January 2, 2009

More on Power Profiling, Older Athletes and Females

Continuing with the discussion on what the power profiles of athletes are for Kona qualification, we turn the focus to older athletes and females.

When I say older athletes, I mean any athlete over the age of 35. Now that doesn't seem old to many people, but it is this point which we tend to find the beginning of a sliding scale on the two times body weight in pounds for FTP equation, (2xBW=FTP).

The sliding scale means we begin to take 0.5% off for every year over the age of 35, to determine the FTP value which is a performance marker for qualifying for Kona. For example, a 36 year old male triathlete wanting to qualify for Kona, would compare their FTP to the value found for (2xBW)*(.995)=FTP. If their FTP exceeds or matches this value, they have a good chance. If it is below, they need to be able to make up for it with their swim and/or run abilities.

Another example would be a 45 year old male. 45 is 10 more than 35, so the value will be 5% less, (2xBW)*(.95)=FTP.

I would like to add, this is not an "end all, be all" marker. Those out there who are anti-science will say you can't just use these numbers, there is too much beyond this to consider. I will agree there is a lot more beyond this, but this is a marker. Just like an ability to run sub 3 hours off the bike is a marker, but not the only marker. This an important marker that I use with my athletes in their training to determine what the values should be for them to reach. We set goals for their training, as well as for their racing, and this provides a great benchmark. It also helps to give my athletes the confidence of knowing they are ready to perform well.

USAT and any other major sporting organization use performance markers to determine and identify talent for the level they are wanting to compete at. NFL uses a 40 yard dash time, bench pressing body weight, squating amounts, etc. Baseball uses ball speed, and a millon other statistical measures. This is no different than what those organizations do. As a coach, my job to help my athletes reach their goals. If their goal is qualify for Kona, or reach their potential, this is one of the markers to help me to do that.

For females, we simply subtract the value of two times body weight by 10%, for all ages, up to about 45, I find. So the equation would look like (2xBW)*(.90)=FTP. Beyond that, it is very difficult to determine, as abilities can vary so much, and the population base of athletes in these groups are limited.

If you are an elite female, I find the standard is a range of (2xBW)=FTP, with no discounted value, to 5% less, (2xBW)*(.95)=FTP. If you recall, I listed a range for the elite men, so this is the range for elite females, based on results and charts that I've seen.

Elite females are an interesting and diverse group, with ranges of abilities throughout the three sports, moreso than we see with the men, especially at the Ironman distance. Given this, markers for elite females become more dependent on other markers.

Now you have the math to determine your goal FTP in training, if the Ironman is something you're looking to tackle. Best of luck!

Coach Vance