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