Friday, July 30, 2010

The Answer To Every Training or Racing Question

What are your goals? Are they clear and set? Can you measure them? Have you prioritized what is most important for you to accomplish?

If you can't answer these questions, then there is no point proceeding with other questions about specific workouts, race equipment, race schedule, strategies, coaching or anything else you're trying to decide on.

Why? Because the answer which makes the most sense should be the one which most closely matches the goals you have set. For example, "Do I need to get a Zipp 808 and disc wheel for a few thousand dollars for my upcoming half-ironman?" The answer will greatly depend on if your goal is to finish with a smile on your face, move up your age-group, go for a Clearwater spot, or even win your age-group. It makes no sense to spend thousands on Zipp wheelsets if you're just wanting to finish with a smile.

Whether you should do a race when battling a slight injury, continue with a workout when clearly tired, or invest in coaching, massage, power meters, Garmins, etc, all depend on the answers to the questions stated in the first paragraph.

I get people who ask me what I think about all of these things and situations, and 100% of the time my answer is, "It depends on your goals". Some people quickly and easily respond to me with clear and concise goals, but others stare at me with a look of bewilderment. If you tell me your goals, I can give you some advice that will probably help. If you have no goals, then I have no idea if the advice I give could help or hurt.

Make sure the first decision you make for your season is to set the goals, and then prioritize them. Write them down, so you can easily refer back to them, even if that means writing them on a poster on the wall. Anytime you have a question, go back and see which decisions will be in support of those goals, and are necessary for achieving them. Your goals are the standard for which all decisions should be judged.

So if you have a question you want help with, I'm happy to provide advice. However, you need to provide me with the knowledge of what your goals are. Otherwise, I'm not giving you advice, I'm just giving you words.

Coach Vance

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Embrace Competition, Be the Villain

As my athletes have had success, and been visible in the things they've accomplished, I've become a target. My athletes have become targets. People can feel intimated, or even hurt by the fact others have success, while they might be struggling. Some are critical of one coach, simply because of their devotion to their current coach.

It's not always easy, but letting this stuff bother you can't be the focus. There will always be competition, and there will always be those who are critical, don't agree, and no matter what is accomplished by you or your athletes, that will not change.

Instead, take the opposite approach, and EMBRACE the competition! Solidify your successes, and be the villain in the critic's world! Be the one they want to beat. More success, more vindication.

It's a compliment really, because if you're doing things right and well enough, someone is not going to like you. In fact, if someone's not disliking you, you're not doing things well enough.

Embrace the competition, and be the villain in the critic's world.

Coach Vance

Monday, July 26, 2010

Don't be that athlete...

Don't be the athlete who claims every time a race result doesn't go well, or when someone else beats you, that they drafted, or they cut the course, do drugs, or whatever reason one can come up with. Sometimes it is just time to admit that some athletes are better. Some athletes may not even be better, but they may be doing things better in preparation than you.

I've seen athletes improve leaps and bounds in a matter of a few minutes. Most of the time it doesn't take much more than a simple skill change, or even a mental approach, to create large improvements.

This excites them, and makes them really love the sport. But it gives them a sour taste in their mouth when someone doesn't believe they can improve like that and therefore declare they must be cheating.

If you're blaming cheating, drugs or drafting as reasons why people are beating you, maybe it's time to re-think that strategy. Unless you have hard evidence, your perception is biased. I know people cheat, but maybe there's more to it. Don't be that athlete...

Coach Vance

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

London, England Swim Seminars - September 11th and 12th

After the great success of the Mallorca camp, I've been offered the chance to go to the UK and teach many athletes and coaches on how they can improve their swimming. I'm really looking forward to this trip, and hope any of you who read this from the UK can make it to the clinic!

TrainingBible Coaching Swim Clinic with Elite Coach Jim Vance
Featuring Underwater Video Analysis

Tri Dynamic is delighted to offer triathletes of any ability interested in improving their swimming this unique opportunity to receive swim coaching & underwater analysis from Jim Vance. Jim is an Elite Coach for TrainingBible Coaching and an 8.37 Ironman PRO. TrainingBible Coaching is owned by the legendary Triathlon and Cycling Coach, Joe Friel, who is the author of the best selling ‘Triathletes Training Bible’ Series. Jim Vance was a guest speaker at the prestigious 2010 Global Open Water Swim Conference in California where the topic was "Building the Mindset and Performance of a Front-Pack Swimmer". Jim Vance will only be in the UK for a few days and places will be limited to ensure that each participant gets the most possible attention.

Dates: SAT 11th & SUN 12th September 2010
Venue: Hampton Outdoor Pool, High Street, Hampton, Middlesex, TW12 2ST
Times: See Below

More Information

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. There are two choices for attending the clinic;
  • One is full-service with information directly for the participating athlete, who would like to be videoed in the water
  • The other is for athletes or coaches who are not interested in getting in the water and have footage taken of them swimming but desire to learn the principles of triathlon swimming and how to apply them to athletes.

There will be 4 sessions to choose from over the weekend. Please indicate at time of booking which session you would like to be in. However places are strictly limited and will be allocated on a first come first served basis. On the booking form you will be able to select the session that you would like to attend. If that is not available you will be offered the next best option. Please note that you will not be able to change your session once you have booked and there will be 10 videoed swim places and 15 coach/non videoed places per session.

Jim Vance Swim Seminars Session Times

Session 1 -SAT 11th Sep 8am-12 Noon
Session 2 -SAT 11th Sep 1pm-5pm
Session 3 -SUN 12th Sep 8am-12 Noon
Session 4 -SUN 12th Sep 1pm-5pm

Please arrive 15 minutes prior to the start of your session and check in at the registration area which will be signposted at the pool. There is also a CafĂ© on site and if the weather is nice plenty of room for your friends or family to enjoy the nice parkland. There are two swimming pools at the venue, one 36m outdoor pool and one 12m kids’ pool. The two pools are situated in a south facing woodland area on the outskirts of Bushy Park. There is also a grassed area for you to just laze in the sun if you have come to watch.

Participating (Video) Athletes: £95 per person, limited to 10 spaces each session

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

Coaches/Non-Participating Athletes: £65, limited to 15 spaces each session

Package includes:
- Lecture on the principles of triathlon swimming in classroom setting
- Direct application of principles on underwater video footage of participating athletes
- Q&A session

Coaches or non-participating athletes will be able to attend the lecture session on the principles of swimming in triathlon, and see how the principles are applied. Due to time constraints, they will not get filmed themselves.

Tentative Schedule – Morning Session

8:00-8:10 – Check-in
8:15-8:45 – Warm-up and underwater filming of participating athletes, (10 people only – Participating Athletes)
8:45-10:00 – Presentation in classroom about the principles of triathlon swimming
10:00-11:30 – Review of underwater footage, applying principles directly
11:30-12:00 – Q&A session
12:00 – Clinic closes

Tentative Schedule – Afternoon Session

1:00-1:10 – Check-in
1:15-1:45 – Warm-up and underwater filming of participating athletes, (10 people only – Participating Athletes)
1:45-3:00 – Presentation in classroom about the principles of triathlon swimming
3:00-4:30 – Review of underwater footage, applying principles directly
4:30-5:00 – Q&A session
5:00 – Clinic closes

BOOK NOW - Register at:

Or email Martin Boddie of TriDynamic at for more information.

Contact Info
Contact Tri Dynamic on 07778 862737 or email
You can make payment by credit or debit card. If paying by cheque they must be made payable to Tri Dynamic Limited, Priory Close, St Mary’s Gate, Lancaster, LA1 1XB.

Here is a link to a map to find Hampton Pool:

Hope to see you there!

Coach Vance

Private San Diego Camps Available

If you're looking for a short get-away to San Diego, for some individual coaching for a 3-day spell, then you might like the opportunity I'm offering. Get your flight to San Diego, and I will take care of you upon arrival, helping you meet your goals, individually.

Jim Vance San Diego Private Training Camp includes:
- Airport pick-up
- Bike build and breakdown
- All food needs
- Full guest bedroom with private bath
- Underwater swim video analysis
- Run gait video analysis
- Bike fit analysis (optional)
- Private rides (athlete choice)
- On-deck swim coaching
- Fully coached individual sessions, coach with athlete
- Training schedule customized to athlete goals and needs, up to 6-8 hrs/day

The camp is 3 days, 2 nights. The two choices are:
- Sunday noon to Tuesday noon
- Tuesday noon to Thursday noon

Cost is $850 for 1 person, $1200 for 2, and this camp is available year round. If you're interested in something longer than 3 days, or more customized for a week or more, this can be arranged.

Contact Coach Vance at jvance at trainingbible dot com, to inquire about dates and availability, as well as any questions.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Don't waste your hard work!

One of the oddest things I always see in Ironman race results is how much time athletes take in T1. Why is this odd? Think about how much athletes work on their swim. Athletes will spend MANY HOURS in the pool and open water over the course of a season, trying to improve their swim time for 2.4 miles by merely a few minutes.

Athletes will brag about their great swim, and how they may have improved 5 mins from one year to the next. But then you look at their T1 time and realize they were 4 mins slower in T1 this year. Net result is only 1 minute faster! All those hours working on the swim, all that improvement, simply wasted by a lack of urgency in T1.

If you know you will not have a sense of urgency in T1, then why are you working so hard on your swim? If you want to be economical and not waste energy, then just go easier in the swim.

Why not take a few of those swim sessions and spend it running, biking, napping, getting massage, or doing something else to improve. Why waste all your hard work? Why not figure a way to be quicker and more streamlined in your T1?

If you're worried about being too tired from the swim and feel you need to rest, why not just coast on the bike? Great way to rest, and still progress forward in the race.

Coach Vance