Pondering what to do next season….

The fall is a wonderful time of year.. The temperatures cool and ambition grows. Athletes dream about the season to come. Now is the time to reach out to your coach to discuss your plans for next year.

It is tempting to get wrapped up in a season full of “peak bagging” where your schedule is just too full, too long, or is simply a mixed bag of races.  This can result in disappointment in your development as an athlete, over commitment, and burn out.

It is not uncommon to see a triathlete career of only 3 years. The way I think about it is the year of wonder, the year of excitement, followed by the year of work which can result in frustration and burnout. After which, the bike can become a clothes horse in the corner of the apartment. This is very sad for your bike and you can see it weeping quietly if you look carefully.

In your first year, your fitness grows by leaps and bounds & there is so much new information. The sport changes your life and introduces you to new community of friends. You feel invincible.

In your second year, you pack your schedule with races and race race race… You still develop rapidly, and spend a ton of money on your bike. At the end of the season, you are tired but look forward to next season with high ambitions. You are also looking for new challenges, perhaps Ironman,  a marathon or two, perhaps tough mudders…etc.

In your third year, your development needs are much more specific to your personal limiters and much more race specific. Your development curve flattens but your schedule is more complex with a mixed bag of races that often compete with each other for your time. Unless you are a extraordinary athlete, and few of us actually are, your racing is unlikely meet your expectations.

A good example is a marathon in the middle of your Ironman preparation. A well prepared marathoner will run far more, with much more specific run training than an Ironman athlete. I would estimate that a marathon blows a 1 month hole in your Ironman progression between taper & recovery not to mention the lack of focus on the bike & swim during the prior months of marathon training.

The key to getting faster is time & focus. The fast athletes in the field, excluding the genetically gifted, have been training for many years. Although they are older, in many instances they race faster than they ever have. The secret sauce is that they are still at it and they have seasons that are well structured and not beyond what their life & work can manage. Typically, these athletes will peak only a couple of times for key races, and interim races are about supporting their principal focus of the year. Their seasons are also have a transition period that is not too long, but is sufficient to come back into each year with a bounce in their step.


As you dream about your season ahead, be sure to check in with your coach for advice on your race schedule.

Race well and love your bike.




2017 off season program registration opens today!

Back again by popular demand. Start Line Coaching is offering a two month “off season” program to work on weaknesses, strength deficits, and add some variety to your training. The “off season” is a period of de-training and essential mental and physical revitalization. But as we all know, it all so often turns to couch surfing and weight gain through the holiday period.

Add some structure to your fall with a group training program. This is also a perfect program for those returning to endurance training after a long lay off. The program is purposely aimed to address the niggles we all feel after a racing season and help those looking to establish a training routine. The goal of the program is to set you up for a successful 2018 training and race calendar.


The USAT sanctioned program culminates with a running event to baseline your off season fitness.

Interested? Training begins October 28, 2017.  Look here for details

Transitioning from Triathlon to Marathon mid-season

It is not uncommon for multi-sport athletes to attempt completion of a marathon at season end. Typically, Triathletes are quite fit at this point of the season, but under trained on the run for a transition to marathon specific training with its more demanding run volume.

As you transition, ensure you keep a healthy mix of swimming, strength, and biking in the mix in the transition weeks. These additional workouts will keep your fitness up while you more gradually change the volume mix to more frequent running and ultimately longer runs. Don’t rush the transition. Trust in your fitness and focus on progressive adaptation to more running.

Copy exactly!

A number years ago I reviewed a case study on Intel Corp. As you can imagine, manufacturing computer processors is an exacting business. Part of Intel’s success in manufacturing was the simple idea of replicating what was done in development into the production fabrication. Fabrication processes and plants were designed and operated to match exactly what worked best in development.

This is the way you should race! Training is not just about building a stronger aerobic engine. That matters. But what is essential is to take the lessons from training to execute a predictable race. Another way to put this is “nothing new on race day”. Do what you know and what you have practiced. If you have been consistent with your training, you will know exactly what works and what does not.

Enjoy your racing!

Consistency is key

Juggling training, work, and life can be difficult. Winter can be cold, and that trip to the pool can seem just too far.  Work blows up, you have a social obligation, or you have to go on a business trip. I get it.

It is at times like this that you need to focus on the single most important thing to your training and that is consistency. Consistency (frequency) is far more important than how much you do (volume). Cutting a workout back and making it shorter is the better option than skipping to double up later in the week.  We all cut workouts but long breaks of several days materially affect your hard earned fitness.

As a coach, I’d rather see a 30 minute effort than days of cutting workouts because you did not have the time to execute the assigned workout. Almost everyone can squeeze in 30. The body loves regularity and to work. It is a mammalian trait. Your body needs to be constantly reminded that it is a working machine and expects to be worked. Be consistent and your body will respond.

That is not to say you cannot vacation or you must say good bye to family when you train,. Just make sure you put in a little me time each day. You will be happier, much less grumpy, and not feeling like you are starting from scratch each time life throws a planned or unplanned curve ball.

Split Interval workouts

no-rest-for-youAthletes are often confused about Split Interval work outs in the pool. Unlike rest interval workouts, you do not have a prescribed rest at the end of the work interval. Instead, the approach is to give you a defined time box to complete each work interval & the time box includes any rest you are allowed.

E.g. Swim 400 @T-pace+10 SI.

Let’s assume your T-pace is 2:00/100 yards. This would mean you have 2:10 * 4 = 8:40 to complete the 400 including your rest. Your goal is to beat the clock to get that rest. Typically SI workouts allow you adequate time to complete the work and get a very short rest. Note: Very short.

Don’t race for your rest, pace for your rest. SI workouts tend to be quite long. The trick is to swim it slower than you can and still get a little rest. As you get better, you will end up swimming faster & getting more rest. This indicates mastery and you are probably ready for a new T-Pace test to reset your T-Pace or alternatively complete more yards.

I often find athletes sneaking in supplemental rests. This is naughty. These workouts are stamina builders. If you managing the workout continue as prescribed. If you find your self falling behind the clock, it simply means you have fatigued out. Take a 30 second rest immediately, regroup, and then pursue the clock as before.

Remember, no rest for you.





Want to swim faster & pace better

It is easy in the world of triathlon to get caught up in chasing the latest piece of fun gear. Gear is fun, but some investments are more cost effective than others. A good swim is built on 1) effective technique; and 2) effective & deadly even pacing.

Just like running and biking, it is easy to be tempted with swimming too fast. You feel like a dolphin for 200 yards and then all of sudden your swim comes apart and you can no longer sustain your pace. Worse yet, swimming provides almost no means to measure it while you are doing it so you have no idea if you have slowed down and by how much. Very few swimmers have a strong sense of pacing and very few can hold even splits over long swim sets. This is exacerbated in an open water race when you are surrounded by competitors and there is no direct means to measure performance at all.

Here is a $40 investment that really helps. A Finis Tempo Trainer is little device you put inside your swim cap that allows you set to a specific swim split time and beeps when you are supposed to hit the wall at each end. In doing so, it allows you to know when you are going too fast and also when you are starting to fall apart or losing focus. I find it highly motivating to know that I am nailing the pacing when the beep comes right on time. It is the real time feedback swimmers need.

As an example, your coach asks you to swim 400 yards @ T-Pace + 6. If your T-Pace is 1:30/100 yards, your coach is really asking you to swim at 1:36/100 yards pace. If you are swimming in a 25 yard pool, set the tempo trainer to beep every 24 seconds and try to hit the wall/push off the wall every time the tempo trainer beeps. Do this consistently and develop a real feel for pacing that you can now bring to your races.

There are other things you do with the tempo trainer. We can talk about those in another blog another day.