Sunday, December 26, 2010

Why are you doing that workout?

Training is fun, but the higher your goals, the less your approach should be about fun, and more about purpose. What workout did you do today? What workouts do you have planned for tomorrow? For this week?

If there is no plan, then there is no purpose to your training. Though you may be having fun, will it be as much fun when you stop seeing improvement?

Why are you doing that workout today/tomorrow/etc? "Because I want to get better" is not a good answer. What aspects of your fitness and weaknesses are you addressing?

If you can't answer these questions from a planning and purpose perspective, then you're just having fun with hard exercise. Though some make call that training, it certainly can't be called preparing.

Prepare to accomplish your goals by training with purpose.

Coach Vance

Monday, December 20, 2010

Sometimes you have to fake it

No matter how much triathlon, or fitness is a part of your life, livelihood, or passion, there will be times when training is not convenient. There will be times when motivation lacks. This is true for the greatest athletes, and everyone else.

The athletes who achieve their goals are the ones who are able to weather these lulls, and find motivation and confidence to get the training done when they doubt they can or aren't sure they want to. If they can't find it, they fake it. Seems odd, but it works.

Sometimes you have to fake it. Your body doesn't know fake attitude in hard training. It only knows hard training. Your goals don't know fake attitude/motivation/confidence. It only knows do, or do not.

You might not want to go to work, but you smile at your boss and co-workers, despite knowing you'd rather be anywhere else. (Maybe even on your bike, or training in the cold!)

I know the weather sucks around the country right now, from So Cal to the Northeast, and your motivation lacks. Fake it. Get on that trainer, get out the door.

Coach Vance

Friday, December 17, 2010

Great Quote #3

Here's one I found myself saying...

"Your dreams get you up in the morning. Your goals get your butt out the door!" - Jim Vance

Coach Vance

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Your Best Triathlon - by Joe Friel

The author of the TrainingBible book series, Joe Friel, has a new book out which I recommend. The book is called Your Best Triathlon - Advanced Training for Serious Triathletes.

This book is more about application of theories into training, rather than just the theories and concepts.

If you liked the TrainingBible, and you want to get better, this book is one I recommend, whether you are self-coached or not.

Coach Vance

Monday, December 13, 2010


No matter who you are, elite, professional, top age-grouper, masters athlete, mid-packer or back-of-the-packer, if you have high goals then you will be nervous before a race.

So many athletes fear being nervous, as if it means something is wrong. Nothing is wrong. Being nervous simply means the goals you have matter to you, and the day has come to see if you can accomplish it. Many think the best athletes don't get nervous. Trust me, they do. They just tend to handle it better than most athletes.

Think back to your college days, and heading into a major exam. You were probably nervous a lot of the time, because there was a lot of the unknown, and you were likely paying for that class too! The cost of failing was not good. But in the end, you likely knew the material or didn't. You were prepared, or you weren't.

Don't fear your nerves. Embrace them, and use the arousal to get the adrenaline pumping and producing a great result. This graph illustrates how the right amount of nervousness and arousal can help your race performance:

If you're not nervous, then you have low energy level, and likely will have a poor performance. Think back to races where you really didn't care about them, or weren't excited. They likely were not your best performances.

If you let your nervousness overtake you, it's too high. You begin to doubt your preparation, your plan, your diet, anything and everything you make a stressful situation.

Understand and accept nervousness, not taking it as a negative sign, such as a lack of confidence or preparation. Trust in your preparation, and execute your race plan.

Coach Vance

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Why Not You?

We can learn a lot about ourselves and what we're capable of, by learning from others. This was a story which really touched me, and after hearing from my friends on the Navy Seal Teams that they worked with this guy, and he was talking about these goals when he was in Iraq, I had to share it. When I sent them this article, they were happy to read it, and hear he accomplished his goals.

I'm a Husker, so I'm biased, but I take a lot of pride in the experiences and things I learned at that great institution, and under the coaching staff, as well as my teammates. This gentleman's story helps solidify why the pursuit of greatness is important, and it's exactly what continues to drives me as a coach today, and what I look for in the athletes I work with.

From line of fire in Iraq to defensive lineman at Nebraska

By Tom Robinson The Virginian-Pilot © December 11, 2010

Tyrone Fahie, a two-tour Iraq veteran from Virginia Beach, is not on the campus of the University of Nebraska through a miracle, although his story does have that feel about it.

Fahie is imposing at 6 feet 2 inches tall and 255 pounds, but his voice lands softly on significant events of the past decade: his enlistment in the Navy at age 17, his rise to the rank of petty officer second class, his narrow escape from a rocket attack late one night in 2004 within Baghdad's Green Zone.

The 107 mm rocket launched across the bordering Tigris River landed 50 yards behind him and another man, but for some reason it didn't explode. Fahie (pronounced Foy) is mindful of that serendipity, pretty much every day. "It would've easily killed both of us," he says. "War became really personal to me at that point."

Gradually, Fahie's tale steers from that sober memory to the surreal. It's the part nobody really saw coming. The long-shot chapter in which a former Ocean Lakes High School drum major announces his nascent dream - to become a Division I college football player upon leaving the Navy - and then proceeds to live it.

What? How did Fahie become a backup defensive end - deep on the depth chart, but still - and a trusted voice within a traditional powerhouse that's ranked 17th nationally this week by The Associated Press?

Didn't Fahie quit football after his freshman season on the junior varsity to focus on the saxophone and the marching band? Well, that made sense to him at the time; Fahie was just 5-foot-7 then, and he loved his music, although, reflecting now, he concedes he wasn't motivated to take it very far.

So football became a casualty. Football was gone for good when Fahie gave it up.

Except, actually, it wasn't.

Music waned for Fahie, but not the lure of football. Even as he practiced his military trade in harm's way - an electronics specialist, Fahie helped SEAL team members communicate with each other - he nursed his goal, training a body that bloomed unexpectedly while he was in the Navy.

"My second tour in Iraq, my nickname was 'Nebraska,' " says Fahie, a 28-year-old graduate student due to earn his MBA in May. "I had a lot of support. Everyone just expected me to get accepted there and play football."

And so that part played out for him precisely as planned. Yet with one game - the Dec. 30 Holiday Bowl - left in his career as the Cornhuskers' oldest walk-on ever, Fahie still marvels at his journey.

"You couldn't tell someone this story," he says. "A Navy guy, 23 years old, walks onto the Nebraska football team after not playing football for 10 years? Yeah, right. That really happened."

Oh, but it did. Very much so.

In fact, the directors of an exclusive service organization and foundation in Newport Beach, Calif., known as The Pacific Club were so moved upon learning about Fahie's story that they voted him an honorary version of their annual award.

The club issues its Lott IMPACT trophy, named for former football star Ronnie Lott, to a top college defensive player judged that season's best combination of athlete, student and citizen.

Two others have received honorary awards: the late Pat Tillman, who left an NFL career and died in service as an Army Ranger, and Boston College's Mark Herzlich, who returned to the field after a battle with cancer.

"Tyrone represents the best of student-athletes in this country, and we're delighted to honor him," says Pete Donovan, a Pacific Club spokesman. "He'll get a hell of an ovation when he comes up, trust me."

That will be tonight in Newport Beach at a $20,000-per-table black-tie gala, with retired Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, set to introduce Fahie to the gathering of 250 people.

"I'm honored, but I'm baffled," says Fahie, an honor-roll student who also runs a nonprofit business, reselling his school's used computer equipment online as part of his graduate program. "I don't think I'm in the conversation" with Tillman and Herzlich.

There is little to discuss regarding Fahie's statistics, that's true. He has played briefly in just two games at Nebraska.

Still, his story drew attention and admiration early this season for one proud act: Fahie carried the American flag into Nebraska's Memorial Stadium, filled with its usual 81,000 fans, before a game Sept. 11.

He had asked school officials how he could help mark the day's significance to the military and others who protect Americans. They in turn asked him to lead his teammates out of their tunnel, in uniform, along with four flag-bearing police officers and firefighters.

The irony of that special walk isn't lost on Fahie: It was his longest on-field appearance as a Cornhusker. Fahie, in the language of the game, is a scout-team player. He has spent his idyllic career imitating opposing defensive ends to help prepare Nebraska's offensive starters for that week's game.

The nickname is incongruous to the Navy, but "Sarge," as Fahie is known to his teammates, has never gotten to run down the field to cover a kickoff or a punt. He's rarely traveled to road games. He has played only two snaps from scrimmage - one this year, the other two years ago - and made no tackles.

But his name on the roster - Fahie, No. 92, defensive end - and his credibility as a survivor of a cattle-call student tryout barely eight months after he left the Navy are all the validation he needs.

"It's pretty much amazing someone so young has done so many of the things he wanted to do in his life," says his mother, Dafney, who lives in Virginia Beach with her husband, Floyd. "I really think Tyrone is an awesome young man."

Dafney Fahie, who, like her husband, is a native of the U.S. Virgin Islands, knows better than anyone the making of her son's plan.

It was born in boot camp after Tyrone Fahie, whose father spent 24 years in the Navy, enlisted the summer he graduated from Ocean Lakes. Fahie befriended a fellow enlistee, a native Nebraskan who talked endlessly of Cornhusker football, and he found himself intrigued by his new friend's passion.

Later, when they were stationed in San Diego, the men traveled to Lincoln to sample the spectacle of a game day, Husker-style. The intensity blew Fahie away.

"I mean, if you say something to someone out here about the Huskers, they can list the roster in alphabetical order," Fahie says. "They know every detail about the team. I was kind of impressed by that."

So impressed that Fahie, with his parents' can-do encouragement in his ears, began to talk openly of trying football again when he left the Navy in August 2006. Sure, it was illogical. But Fahie kept asking himself and friends two questions: "Why not me?" and "Why not Nebraska?"

The school, he'd learned, had a long tradition of accepting walk-ons. And he'd already decided Nebraska was the place for him, although he knew no one at the university.

"I'd always wondered, what if I had picked football instead of band, where would I have been?" Fahie says.

His shot to find out in front of Nebraska's coaching staff came in the spring of 2007, the second semester of his freshman year.

The coaches, who Fahie says did not yet know of his military background, put 85 hopefuls through various running and jumping drills to test their athleticism.

Fahie recalls being upset with his performance, even before he lost a shoe during his 40-yard dash.

"I was like, 'Awesome. That's exactly what I needed,' " he says with a laugh. "I beat myself up that night. But the next day I got a call to come to the coach's office.

"They said, 'We'd like you to be part of our team.' "

"Team" isn't a word Fahie takes lightly. To him, it is charged with meaning from military lessons ingrained by relying on others as they relied on him.

"The consequences there obviously are a lot more dire," he says. "If I messed up and got myself killed or shot, that's fine. But I didn't want to be the guy who got someone else killed or shot."

That attitude is why, according to Nebraska teammate Joe Broekemeier, a receiver, Fahie's "respect level is crazy around here. What Sarge says has merit, and people listen to him."

Broekemeier, though, notes that Fahie rarely references his Navy days unless asked. But he did volunteer to address the Cornhuskers during a rough patch last season, when he called on his military maturity to lend perspective and guidance.

We need to know we can trust each other, he told his struggling, younger teammates. No, our lives aren't on the line here. Rockets aren't falling around us. But we need to know we're all doing our jobs for each other, every day, on the field and in class, to better this team.

"I'm very competitive. I want to win," says Fahie, who estimates he's among 15 open-tryout players on Nebraska's 156-man roster. "So if takes me just being a scout-team player for us to win, I'm completely fine with that. I'm not the best athlete. But there are things I do that still help this team."

Nothing Fahie brings to the locker room, the weight room or the practice field, says Nebraska's defensive ends coach John Papuchis, is more important than his full effort and his presence as someone who's seen a side of life most of his teammates never will.

Says Papuchis, "Tyrone's maturity and discipline have a positive effect on the rest of our defensive line and people throughout our football program."

Ah, but in the end, there is another question to ask of Fahie: Which has served the other better, the man or the team? He is confident of the answer, and here's a clue to it: Fahie, who's engaged to be married in July, says he plans to coach football - at any level, even as a volunteer - and for a long time, to repay what he says he owes to the sport, his university and his teammates.

"I needed this team more than they needed me," Fahie says. "I need that structure in my life. I don't do well without it. And for me, being accountable to other people really pushes me further than I would probably ever push myself."

Coach Vance

Saturday, December 11, 2010

If you needed anymore convincing...

...that triathlon can help your running, and make you a fitter, better athlete overall, than look no further than today's Footlocker Cross Country Championships at Morley Field!

Lukas Verzbicas - 1st, 14:59 (5K)
Tony Smoragiewicz - 3rd, 15:16

These are two of the top Junior Triathletes for the US, and both are juniors in high school still!

Impressive, given the list of names who have been top 3 at this event in years past, and what they've been able to accomplish just in distance running alone. This includes:

Adam Goucher
Meb Kflezighi
Alan Webb
Ryan Hall
Dathan Ritzenhein
Bob Kennedy
Ruben Reina
Marc Davis
Louie Quintanna
Bryan Dameworth

This is just the men's side, the women have had similar success.

A great sign of the future for the US in the sport! And a great motivation for the rest of us!

Coach Vance

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Twitter Answers #2

Each week I ask over Twitter if people have training topics they are interested in learning about. I get a number of responses and questions, and 140 characters doesn't provide good opportunity to answer them all. So I hope every few weeks to post some of the questions and my responses here.

From: @ironchiro

"the value of training the core muscles? Yes/No? Why? Performance benefit? Technique benefit? Relation with injury prevention?"

Core strength being important isn't the question, because it is. The real question is it the MOST important? It depends on how weak or strong your core is, compared to your ability to swim, bike and run. Specificity is most important, (swimming, biking and running), but there comes a point where you can't improve those if the weakest link in the chain is your core strength. Also, how much training time do you have available? That's one of the best parts about triathlon, that there are so many different avenues for improving performance, that choosing which ones you focus on and how well you do with that is the challenge.

So does it have a benefit on the things you list? Yes, most certainly. Is it worth pursuing more? Perhaps, but see if it is the really the weakness you need to address. With all this said, I do like to see my athletes address core strength mostly in the off-season, then maintain that strength thru the year, but just enough to maintain.

From: @djdirtykurty

"have u blogged about if & How much warmup you should do the morning of the race & How long before race time should u do it"

Warm-up in general has a few rules I like to follow and advise of athletes. First, the shorter the race, the more intense it is, and therefore the more warm-up that is required. For example, a sprint or Olympic requires much more warm-up than an Ironman. As an example, I like to see an athlete do at least a 2 mile jog before a half-ironman, and then get in the water for at least 20 mins, with some surges in both the run and the swim, to race intensity. This would be the minimum for a half. Always better to start your warm-up too soon than too late.

From: @AlexBaron85

"how bout approach to offseason? need to incorporate weights to gain strength. how much sbr do we need not to lose form? Thanks!"
The first part of approach to the off-season is to recharge mentally. If you don't rest the mind, you'll be fading by the middle of the following season. I believe strength training is best addressed in the off-season, with a focus on stabilizing muscles, and core work. Don't fall for the idea that a loss of strength will mean poor technique, as that is just not the case. Plenty of weak athletes have excellent technique.

The best approach to the off-season is one which represents the glaring weaknesses that kept you from reaching your goals in the prior season. Do a review of the season, and find out what happened. If it was injuries, perhaps a strength training routine could prevent that. Maybe speed is what you need too, and that needs to be the focus. Consider all variables, then prioritize. Consider weight and diet too!

From: @NerdyRocker

"What type of strength training do you recommend for marathoners?"

Wow, strength training is a popular topic! Seems like many athletes haven't addressed it much, and that may be why it seems to be a big weakness. Because a runner only has to run, they tend to be more able to hit the weight room, so strength training comes into play. Core work, stabilizing muscles, and dynamic movement strength work, (ie lunges), are the things I recommend.

Thanks guys!

Coach Vance

Monday, November 29, 2010

Mean Max Curve Graphs & Fitness Comparisons

Here is another article I've written on WKO+ software and using it to better assess fitness and base training decisions upon.

Mean Max Curve Graphs and Fitness Comparisons

One of the great things about collecting data from training is that data always tells the same story, with the same details. Ask a friend about their best time, or a great season they had, and the chances of them remembering and telling the story as accurately as they used to, is highly unlikely. It’s natural for athletes to embellish a bit. So a ride where an athlete averaged 290 watts might actually become 300 a few seasons or months after it, if left to them telling the story. But if we refer back to past data, especially power and pace data, it will tell us the real story.

Athletes often get hung up in where their fitness is in a single moment. This is especially true after a few months of working back at training. Athletes can get impatient, wanting the fitness to get back to top form ASAP! They might even think the prior season they were much fitter than at the current moment in time, but is that really the case?

I hear many athletes ask questions like:

  • Where was I at in my training and fitness last year at this time?
  • How did my fitness look in the early months of that great season I had a few years ago?
  • How am I doing right now with my fitness, compared to earlier this season?

With WKO+ software, we can actually get a direct correlation and comparison of where fitness is right now, and compare it with where we were at any other point in time, such as the exact moment last season.

How can we do this? One of the easiest ways to do this is with the Mean Max Curve graphs, for power or pace.

Mean Max Pace Curve Pod


Coach Vance

Monday, November 22, 2010

You've got 23 other hours in the day

When I was a distance runner at the University of Nebraska, Coach Jay Dirksen used to tell us, "You've got 23 other hours in the day for your other commitments, so give me this hour." It was his way of saying, "no excuses for missing practice!"

Of course, Dirksen didn't acknowledge the fact that practice rarely was only 1 hour, but his point still resonates with me. Workouts and training are important, especially when you're wanting to excel. We did morning runs on our own, and Sunday long runs as well. If he had said 22 hours, he would have been more truthful, but again, the point still resonates. We had to do the work to reach our goals, no matter what our other commitments.

Joe Friel recently said in a tweet, "#6 mistake of self-coached athletes? Inconsistent training. High goals? Don’t miss workouts. Ever." There is no greater truth than this.

So if you've got high goals, don't give me excuses for missing workouts, especially when it comes to life and commitments. School is important, work is important, but so are your goals, right?

If you sleep for 8 hours, work for 8 hours, and fill 4 hours eating, commuting, studying, etc, then you still have 4 hours of time to get your workouts in. Don't tell us you can't do it, just be honest and tell us, "I chose not to do my workouts, and to not work hard toward my goals."

Dirksen's quote still rings true, and Friel's as well.

Coach Vance

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Don't Fear Failure - Just Don't Accept It

"Don't fear failure. Just don't accept it."

This is a quote from an email I wrote an athlete tonight. I wasn't quoting someone else, I just was trying to figure out how to tell this athlete to quit focusing on negative outcomes, and instead focus on controlling what happens in their race. He's a 17 year old cross country high school runner, who is about to qualify for the California State Cross Country Meet individually. He has control of the outcome, more than he realizes. He will do more than qualify if his attitude on the start-line is assertive, like I hope. This quote is assertive.

I felt it was a great quote to share.

Coach Vance

Costa Rica Triathlon Camp 2011

TrainingBible Coaching Costa Rica Triathlon Camp 2011
Guanacaste, Costa Rica
February 13-20, 2011

Prepare for the 2011 season in beautiful Costa Rica for a week-long triathlon training camp with TrainingBible coaches and athletes. The week-long camp will be 3 days of intense training followed by 2 skills and learning-focused days, and 2 races at the REV 3 Event (Olympic distance on Saturday, Half on Sunday).

The camp is Monday-Sunday, but the overnight stays are Sunday-Sunday. This camp is nearly ALL-INCLUSIVE, (transportation, resort stay, 2 meals per day, training and race entries). I promise you won't find a better camp or experience, much less for the price. You can even bring a non-participating spouse or significant other, at no charge! (See details below)

This camp already includes top Kona age-group finishers, pro-triathletes, and top TrainingBible coaches from around the world. (Discounts for TrainingBible athletes and camp alumni.)

Camp Features:

  • • 8-night stay at Coco Bay Estates (an $1800-$2400 value)
  • • Option for private room or shared room available
  • • 2 Meals provided per day, (catered breakfast and lunch buffet)
  • • All sessions coached and led by a TrainingBible Coach
  • • Entry into REV 3 Olympic and Half distance triathlons (a $450 value)
  • • Low traffic, paved roads for riding
  • • Coach on-deck for pool sessions
  • • Incredibly beautiful open-water swimming in Coco Bay
  • • Underwater swim video technique assessment for each athlete, ($115 value)
  • • Run technique video assessment for each athlete, ($100 value)
  • • Transition competition
  • • Classroom sessions for individual learning
  • • Complimentary airport shuttle to/from Coco Bay Estates from Liberia Airport only
  • View the Camp Itinerary

***If a spouse or significant other would like to attend, but not participate in the camp, they are welcome to stay free if the athlete purchases a private room. Food is included for spouses/significant others as well. (Limit one per private room camp entry).

***If friends, couples, etc, want to split a room, they are welcome to both purchase the shared room, and state their desired room share partner in registration.

Hope you can join us! Register soon!

Coach Vance

Friday, November 12, 2010

Growing the Sport - TriJuniors

Before I was a professional triathlete, I was a school teacher. I spent 6 years teaching, mostly elementary school, but one year of high school as well. After leaving racing, I came back full-circle to teaching again, starting the first junior triathlon team in San Diego.

I knew the sport didn't need another pro-triathlete, it needed leadership, and I felt the most qualified for the job. With Junior Nationals here in San Diego, in 2010 and 2011, it seemed the obvious timing to make it happen.

When I started the program, I faced many challenges, from competing with high school sports, to the costs involved in a sport like this. I've made the sport and our team a fun experience, so competing against other clubs and school sports hasn't been a problem, and I actually encourage our kids to do the single sports as well.

But costs, and helping families overcome the prohibitiveness of starting triathlon, considering buying a bike, wetsuit, helmet, goggles, clothes, etc, still continue to be a challenge. In general, no parent wants to drop $1000+ on a bike, just to see if their child will like the sport.

One of the main goals I've had since the start was to eliminate or greatly reduce these start-up costs, and I'm very proud to announce that in a partnership with Focus Bikes, I'm now able to offer any athlete who joins our program, a road bike for their use, FREE OF CHARGE!

If they are a member of our team, in good standing, the bike is their's to use. We are a team whose main race goals are centered around draft-legal triathlon, with road bikes, and the skills required to be successful require using a road bike, not triathlon bikes. Focus Bikes has made this possible with some incredible bikes and technology for the kids, which will perform at a high level in all races we do, from draft-legal to non-drafting.

This is an exciting time for the sport, for TriJuniors, and myself as a coach, trying to lead the way for youth and juniors.

If you know a teenager, (13-19), who might be interested in our TriJuniors program, have them visit our website,, and contact us there. If you love this sport as much as I do, then you understand what a great opportunity this is!

Coach Vance

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Twitter Answers #1

Each week I ask over Twitter if people have training topics they are interested in learning about. I get a number of responses and questions, and 140 characters doesn't provide good opportunity to answer them all. So I hope each week to post some of the questions and my responses here.

From: @nuuutymel
"maximising every session without overtraining?"

Mel, the answer is that every session should have a goal. That doesn't mean every session should be hard. Some sessions the goal is improved flexibility, general aerobic endurance, anaerobic endurance and capacity, neurological training, or simply creating blood flow and warming the muscles up for active recovery.

If every session has a goal, you will likely maximize the session by accomplishing the goal. If you train without goals then it's hard to maximize, since we don't know what we are trying to maximize.

From: @kstravelbug
"training topics: im very slow but can endure - never ever focused on speed. Where do I even start to focus on speed in 3 events? while weight training, doing yoga, working on core (and not losing endurance or getting injured!) where to start?? Thx! :)"

KS, thanks for the question. Don't fall into the trap that speed is only going hard. Speed is simply moving quickly. This can be for a few seconds, or longer. If you really want to improve your ability to fire muscles, and increase run cadence, bike cadence, etc, then you need to work on shorter intervals. Try surges in your run of 7 to 20 secs, at fast speed.

Remember that speed is simply the product of Force, (f) and Velocity, (v) in a movement. The only way to run faster is to apply more force(f) into the ground with each step, or take your steps faster(v), or both. In biking, we can apply more force to the pedal, or spin at a faster cadence, again f and v.

You've got the f down with the strength work, but work on the v! Work on keeping technique good when increasing the velocity of the movement.

Coach Vance

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Staying Cool - Mental Discipline

If you’ve been reading this blog, you know I have a tendency to repeat myself. Here it is again. Racing is mental, especially when it comes to long course racing. It’s one of the biggest reasons I retired, mentally I didn’t have what it took anymore.

In long course racing, you have to keep your cool, mentally and emotionally, riding the highs and lows. You have to have mental discipline. You can’t get all excited in the highs and make stupid decisions, taking needless risks. You have to be very calculated in your maneuvers. When things aren’t looking good, you have to be clear headed, and get thru it, trusting your plan and preparation.

This past weekend I went to Ironman Florida and witnessed an athlete of mine have a performance which was the epitome of mental discipline. Scott Iott suffered a broken collar bone in May, and missed about 6 weeks of training. The challenge was not easy to prepare for Florida with that injury, early in the game. But he stuck to the training, stayed consistent, day in and day out.

On Saturday, Scott came out of the water with a 1:03 swim. Not great, but still right at his best ever, (we’ll continue working on this). He didn’t panic or get all excited, he just stuck with the plan. He went onto the bike and started rolling, checking his watts.

About 20-30 mins into the bike, his power meter began shutting off on its own. No guidance. He had to go by feel most of the time. Kept his cool, strolled in 6th off the bike in his age group, (Men 30-34), in 4:47:18, just as we had hoped. He was quick in T2, under 2 mins, and out on the run course.

He had no idea where he was at place-wise in the first mile, but he didn’t worry about it, he knew it was my job to tell him that. His job was to find his rhythm, and go with it. The goal was sub 3 hours, and that meant just running sub-7’s for each mile. First mile, 6:40. In fact, every mile in the first 10 miles of the marathon was between 6:40 and 6:45. Cool, calm and collected.

Add to this the fact he was passed in the first few miles and saw an athlete in his age-group begin to put a gap of nearly 2 minutes on him. Didn’t matter, 6:40’s and change. He brought him back in the second loop. At mile 14 and 15, the gap between 1st and 3rd place was only 20 seconds in his age-group! He and his competitors were well aware, because I was telling them all this. The leader was then a different athlete who had come from behind Scott and pulled away to nearly one minute. It didn’t phase him. He was steady at 7:00’s on the second lap, like a machine.

Scott would catch the leader at the far turnaround and lead the race into the final mile, where Sergio Dias’ was able to finally catch him, and take home the win with an excellent 2:54 run split. Scott’s marathon time, 3:02:02. 1:28, 1:34 for each half. Very solid. Total time, 8:59:48, 22nd overall, 2nd in AG, and 5th AGer overall. His best finish time and place yet. Congrats to Scott. A testament of what mental discipline is in a race.

Scott will return to the Big Island of Kona again next October, ready to improve on his 8th place in his AG at Kona last year, and I expect his venture into the 35-39 AG will be a fun challenge for us both.

He has the mental discipline required to perform well there. He continues to prove that.

Coach Vance

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

St. George Triathlon Camp 2011

TrainingBible Coaching St. George Triathlon Camp
March 9th-13th, 2011
St. George, UT

If you're preparing for the St. George race, or are considering doing it in the future, racing Oceanside half, or any other early season long course race, then this is the training camp for you!

Camp Features:
  • 4-nights hotel accommodations, private room, at Wingate by Windham Hotel ($475 value!)
  • 2 Meals per day, (breakfast and catered lunch)
  • All sessions coached and led by a TrainingBible Coach
  • Training on St. George triathlon course
  • Fully sagged rides
  • Coach on-deck for pool sessions
  • Open-water swim sets, (weather permitting)
  • Underwater swim video technique assessment for each athlete, ($115 value!)
  • Run technique video assessment for each athlete, ($100)
  • 3 classroom sessions for individual learning, discussion, Q&A, totaling 4 hours in length
  • Complimentary airport shuttle to/from Wingate by Windham Hotel and St. George airport
  • 16-25 hours of training in 4+ days!
  • Camp limited to 24 athletes
  • FREE Skinfit products! Base layer shirt, tech-tee and beanie! ($145 value!)
Camp Training Totals
Swim: 4.5 hours
Bike: 8-13 hours
Run: 4-6 hours
Classroom: 4 hours
16-25 hours of training, plus classroom sessions

With hotel and 2 meals/day:
  • $1199 if registered by December 31st
  • $1299 if registered between January 1st - 31st
  • $1449 if registered after January 31st

If hotel is not needed, (only one meal/day provided)
  • $849 if registered by December 31st
  • $949 if registered between January 1st - 31st
  • $1049 if registered after January 31st

  • $50 off for TrainingBible Athletes
  • $50 off for members of a triathlon club
  • $50 off for previous TrainingBible camp attendees
  • Discounts can be combined! (Up to $150 off for some!)

If you're looking at camps, compare our's with the competition, and you'll see we offer more days, at a comparable price, and no other camp offers hotel and meals. We know you'll enjoy this camp, training hard and learning a lot.

Hurry, this camp will sell-out!

Coach Vance

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Cramping - I've said it before & I'll say it again...

A few emails came out over the USAT coaches email group, discussing how to reduce or eliminate cramping in an athlete who chronically cramped in their calf muscles in the latter 1/3 of a marathon.

The suggestions were the typical response you hear, more salt, more electrolytes, better hydration, and even compression socks. Here was my response...

Perhaps I'm in the minority, but I believe there are three things which need to be addressed in individuals who deal with cramping.

1. Better race-specific fitness.
If the athlete continues to cramp "when trying to hold a challenging pace", then the athlete has not trained enough at that pace, to perform it over the distance of the event.

2. Reduction of chronic tension in the muscles which are cramping.
I am willing to bet that the athlete has chronic tension in the calf muscles. Think about where you have cramped in the past, and chances are those muscles are tight on a regular basis for you. The athlete needs to address the tension in the muscles, via massage, ART, Rolfing, Trigger Point Therapy, Yoga, or any way they can. A looser, more pliable muscle I find, cramps less, or never.

3. Pacing.
This is related to number one, but I think needs to be pointed out specifically. The hotter the temperatures, the more fatigue they will face, and therefore lack the race-specific fitness needed to perform in the heat. If they pace themselves at a speed they have not trained for, or have not prepared for the heat they are racing in, then they lack the specific fitness to perform at that pace. Seems simple, but a basic flaw in many athletes' racing strategies and executions.

I also want to say, I believe hydration, salt and electrolyte intake in races are either overemphasized or a complete waste of time and actually hurt athletes, in longer races, such as the marathon and Ironman. I do not allow my athletes to take in salt tablets, and tell them to drink to thirst. Studies are showing the most dehydrated person in a race is the winner. If the athlete comes into the race adequately hydrated, these needs are small.

Stuffing your gut with salt and electrolytes is only going to interfere with the body's ability to process calories needed to complete the event. There is not a single study which has shown athletes taking salt tablets or electrolytes do better than those who don't. Better training for metabolic efficiency would do these athletes more good for longer distance events.

Coach Vance

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Article on CP30 value tracking

My little post here on the CP30 value chart for one of my athletes became an article I wrote for TrainingPeaks, on their blog. Check it out...

Using CP30 Values for Fitness Tracking in WKO+

In my past articles on the PMC charts and overall fitness monitoring, I discussed how WKO+ is a coaching and training tool which goes largely underused relative to its true value, which is seeing the overall picture of training and fitness progression.

If a coach or athlete is only looking at a single training file, then there is little value if it has nothing else to compare itself to. If the athlete has many files to compare the single file to, then there is even more information which can be gained.

The progression of an athlete’s fitness over the course of a season is not linear, and will always have ups and downs. However, the general trend, or slope of the fitness, is what we want to watch for. If the trend is down, or flat, the athlete has reached a plateau, and some adjustments to the training need to be made.

Read the rest at:

Coach Vance

Upcoming Webinars for Coaches, (and Athletes)

I've got 3 webinars coming up at, which you can register for. These are especially great webinars for coaches, who can earn 1 CEU for USA Triathlon, and 0.1 CEU's for USA Cycling Coaches. You can view them live, and participate in a Q&A following, or register and watch it at any time which suits you.

Tapering with WKO+ Software - October 25th
In this webinar, Elite Coach Jim Vance will discuss how to use WKO+ as a tool for tapering athletes. Jim will show tips and tricks for projecting performance via the Performance Management Chart, as well as using it as a reference for coaches and athletes to better perfect their future tapers individually.

Gaining Sponsorships as a Coach - November 15th
In this webinar, Elite Coach Jim Vance will discuss how coaches can leverage themselves for sponsorships for themselves, their athletes, teams, clubs and for earnings. This includes bike, nutrition, and equipment sponsorships, and how to get companies to want to work with you.

Understanding the Demands of the Ironman Bike Leg - November 22nd
In this webinar, Elite Coach Jim Vance will discuss, compare and contrast the different power files of varying athletes, from elites, to top age-groupers, middle of the pack athletes, and those just trying to beat the midnight cut-off. Citing the differences between the demands of the different athlete levels, Jim will discuss the training and nutritional strategies for coaches to consider.

You can register at

Coach Vance

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Nutrition Mistakes

On my twitter account, I always post if anyone has any topics they are interested in me posting about. A big one today was nutrition, as it relates to racing. So, here are 6 common mistakes I see with athletes and nutrition. Why 6? Because it's better than 5.

1. Not knowing the exact number of calories, (or fairly close to exact), that you're consuming in training and on race day. Without actual quantification of what you're taking in, it's nearly impossible to know if it's too much, too little, or just right.

2. Not keeping a training log which details the nutrition you used and tried, so you can perfect it.

3. Testing your nutrition plan for race day when training at an intensity which doesn't match race intensity. On race day, if you're going harder than you are in training, then don't be surprised if suddenly your stomach doesn't jive with what you're putting into it.

4. Using a concentration of calories which doesn't match what you'll use on race day. When the concentration changes, the interaction of the calories with your stomach changes, especially if the concentration is stronger.

5. Many top athletes follow a strict diet, only to change it entirely during the week or two before the race, claiming "carbo loading". Worst thing you can do is dramatically change your diet before the race. Don't do it. It's worked fine for you, stick with it.

6. More is not better. Less is better. Try to get your body trained to need less calories during a race.

Coach Vance

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Yes, I'm very excited for this athlete to race...

Just got back from a great trip to Kona, for the Ironman World Championships. Two athletes, one went 9:16, 8th in Men 35-39, with a 48 min PR, while the other finished his first Ironman at 51 years of age, and only his second triathlon ever, 15:37!

I've been catching up on athlete training, and saw something which got me very excited.

Here's a CP30 value chart for power, taking the best sample by each week thru the season. The athlete is preparing for Ironman Florida, and is ready to do very well based on what I see here.

(Click on image to enlarge)

You'll notice a large downward trend in the middle, in the month of May. The athlete had a bike crash, causing a broken collar bone, and was out for almost 4 weeks. Since then, the progression has been steady and the latest fitness test we did is the very high point on the right. 346 watts for 30 min TT on a trainer, and only 158 lbs.

And trust me, his run charts look just as good! Yes, I am very excited for this athlete to race.

Coach Vance

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Great Quote #3

"It's all about the catch. Nobody cares about the guy who drops it." - Chip Kelly, Univ of Oregon Head Football Coach.

Coach Vance

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Goals and Targets - Kona

I thought I should share this email from a coach I work with in TrainingBible, but who also is one of my athletes. He sent this email out to his athletes this week, and I think he had some great things in it. He is fitter than he has ever been, and is ready to race Kona. I'm excited for him, but this email he wrote proves he has what it takes mentally, not just physically. And I believe the mental part is the key. Enjoy...

As another season comes to an end I have some athletes still gearing up for
their final "A" Races, while most have already started to consolidate their
victories and defeats from the year. Once again this season proved to be a
huge success for my athletes but also myself.

As to not let any one of my athletes feel singled out, I would like to
relate this to myself as some recent readings have really struck a cord with

I am traveling to Kona this week now to try to have the best race there I
ever have done. I know for a fact just looking at the numbers I am more fit
then I have ever been. Running faster, holding more sustained watts, heck
for the first time in my life I feel I am at an ideal race weight, down 7 -8
pounds from last year's Hawaii Ironman.

Additionally I am for the first time confident about my race prep and my
ability to do well. There is no doubt in my head I currently posses all the
tools to do what I want to do on race day.

I was relegated to a trainer session on the bike the other day and decided
to use an old Ironman video to help motivate me. What stood out to me were
the pros that had bad days. Here were athletes no doubt as prepared as I am
now, if not more, combined with more physical ability, and they blew up. My
first instinct was how much that would suck. Here were athletes that on
other years before and after had been in the top finishers, and this
particular year, were not as lucky. Point is, they are clearly not worse
athletes, worse ability, and more then likely just as mentally tough.

As life would have it, I decided to start re reading a book Magical Running
by Bobby McGee. The chapter I was on referenced goals and targets. The
author defined them differently.

Goals were less specific, and or not as based in outcome.

For example, you might want to figure out a way to be more confident while
running hills.

Targets were objectives you would like to hit if you are able to achieve
your goals.

Using the above example, you might have a hilly 10K or triathlon you are
targeting a specific time for. If you are able to be a more confident hill
runner, you will eventually be able to hit higher targets on hilly courses.

"Goals are who we want to be, Targets are things we want to do"

This is important and I have witnessed this exact thing in one of my own
athletes this year. I have an athlete that set MASSIVE PR's in all his
racing and absolutely became a much better cyclist this year. So much so
that they felt the pressure to deliver on everyone's new expectations of
what the community thought they were capable of at Ironman. When that target
started to become un realistic for the race that day, the mental approach to
the race fell apart and it resulted in a DNF and massive disappointment.

What this athlete needed to concentrate on was that the goals for the season
were in fact met. They wanted to become a better cyclist, and they were!
Races, group rides, solo training rides, etc all were better. This athlete
accomplished things on the bike this year they never have before. While the
target of the time at IM was still important, it didn't erase the fact that
this was a different, better athlete. No matter what the time was for the
day, it was MUCH better then they would have produced as their former

Back to myself.

What is important to take from this is goals are more process oriented. It
goes on to ask how many times you have set a goal then faced the
anticlimactic feeling when you do eventually achieve it. If your goals are
to become a better more confident person / racer, and your target along the
way is met, the goal is not over. You simply have to set new targets.

Hawaii this year will be one of my best races I hope. But whatever the
result it doesn't mean I didn't do everything I could have to be ready. I am
a better athlete today then I was in 2009 and I need to be proud of that, no
matter what the outcome.

If I swallow sea water and become sick, suffer a flat tire or 2, or cramp on
the run, I would be disappointed. However it is simply a missed opportunity
at a singular target. My goal has been achieved. This year I set out to be
more fit physically, metabolically, centered on a more specific goal, have
better nutritional practices, etc. The focus, or target, of those goals
right now is to do the best I can at Hawaii given the new achievements.

Good luck to everyone racing soon! If you are in your off season, I am
jealous! :-)

Coach Vance

Friday, September 24, 2010

Photos from Swim Seminar at B+L Bikes

Here are a few photos from a swim talk I gave at B+L Bikes last month, here in San Diego. You'll notice a lot of people. Why so many? I have a good reputation as a speaker and teacher, especially when it comes to the complexity of training and skills in triathlon.

If you're interested in having me speak to a group of athletes in your area, email me at jvance at trainingbible dot com.

Coach Vance

Monday, September 20, 2010

Tuscany Triathlon Camp 2010

I returned from a week-long camp in Tuscany, working with a group of Russian triathletes, and had a great time. Italy is an incredibly beautiful place, especially the Tuscan coast. Below are some photos and highlights from this camp.

If you were wondering about how you could join this camp, it was a private camp, not open to the public. I do offer private camps in other places, including your home area, if interested. Contact me at jvance at trainingbible dot com for more info on private camps.

If you're looking for a public camp to join, you'll want to check out Tridynamic, who Joe Friel and I have partnered with. Led by Martin Boddie, they do an incredibly thorough job of making sure all the small details of the camp are taken care of, from airport pick-up, to all the other details you wouldn't consider, and make the international travel much easier and enjoyable. Our next camp is Tenerife, Canary Islands, in January. Hope you can join us!

Coach Vance

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Don't Let Your Mind Sabotage Your Fitness

I see a lot of athletes, successful athletes, who reach a level of fitness which is so high for them, above what they ever expected, they become scared. It's like they have a weapon in their pocket, and they're afraid it's going to go off and kill or maim them.

They'll use phrases like, "Things are going almost too good," as if Murphy's Law would prevent success.

When you reach this high fitness, refer back to it, and have confidence. Trust in your training, your coaching, and your ability to race. Don't expect perfection, that's a pipe-dream. No race ever goes perfect.

The mind is a powerful tool. Think back to all your races, and compare the difference between the best performances and the bad ones. Chances are the one clear difference was the attitude you had on the start-line. If you were worried, scared, and focused on things you couldn't control, you likely did poorly. If you focused on yourself, and approached the line with confidence in your ability, and were excited to test yourself against the competition, you likely performed well.

Make your attitude on the start-line a priority for you, and keep your thoughts positive, and on the things you can control, and you'll see a marked improvement. Don't let your mind sabotage your fitness.

Coach Vance

Friday, September 10, 2010

Joe Friel Foundations Camp

My colleague, Joe Friel, author of the TrainingBible book series, is hosting a camp in Scottsdale, which is perfect for the athlete looking to get serious about training. Here are the details, straight from Joe's blog:

This fall - October 22-29, 2010 - I'm presenting a triathlon camp in Scottsdale, Arizona where I spend my winters. This is not your standard swim-bike-run camp. It focuses on exactly what I do with the athletes I coach at the start of their winter training. I have each of them come to Scottsdale to spend a few days with me. We get to know each other a bit better while accomplishing a lot of things to prepare them for the coming year.

During this 'personal camp' there are five things you will do just as I do them with my athletes….

* You will be tested for VO2max and other important physiological metrics such as metabolic rate and body composition.

* There will be a head-to-toes assessment by a physical therapist identifying potential injuries and areas where strength, range of motion or other interventions could improve performance. A functional strength and stretching programs will then be created for you based on this information.

*A bike fit will be done by a professional fitter who I have worked with for years. This should be done every year even if you are riding the same bike you were fit for the previous year. Things change over the course of a season.

* We will also refine your speed skills in all three sports. This is a great time of the year to improve swimming, biking and running technique. Most athletes will improve more in this area of fitness than any other.

* And finally we will spend a lot of time discussing the keys to your success in the coming season. This last point starts with season goals relative to your limiters. You and I will sit down to discuss these in a private session. Evening classroom sessions address topics such as mental skills, nutrition, understanding how to train effectively and much more.

By the time the camp is done you will be a great deal closer to achieving your goals for the next season.

My TrainingBible coaching assistant for this camp is Adam Zucco, the USAT Developmental Coach of the Year for last season. Adam is a long time business associate of mine and a very knowledgeable coach. I will also be assisted by the staff at Endurance Rehabilitation and Chris Pulleyn, bicycle fitter extraordinaire, from the Bicycle Ranch.

This camp, along with my other US and European camps (see them here), is organized by Tridynamic in the UK. So all pricing on the website is in Great Britain Pounds. This camps starts at £1449 for double occupancy (at the Xona Resort ). That’s currently about $2234 or €1770. (To check currency exchange rates go here.)

Scottsdale in late October is beautiful. Temperatures are typically around 80F (26C) with gentle breezes and blue skies. All swim sessions will be at the new, outdoor McDowell Mountain Aquatic Center.

As you can see at the above website, I have a lot of camps scheduled for this year, each with a unique focus. This one is guaranteed to get you started down the path to a successful 2011 triathlon season.

More info can be found at:

Coach Vance