Saturday, December 27, 2008


Snow shoeing is tough. Here is a photo Cindy took of me on one of our favorite local trails (well this is actually a short road section within the run but you would never know from the photo). We covered six miles in just over an hour and boy it was hard, not so much aerobically but simply from the recruitment of muscle groups I don't normally use when running. I also struggled getting truly comfortable in the snow shoes, something I am sure will improve with practice.

On the Monday we opted for a treadmill run. Our local club Samena was open and so we hopped in the car and made the sometimes dangerous journey there. I decided to run mile reps at 't' pace and after a two mile warm up set about completing 5x1 mile with a one minute rest interval at 9.8 mph (6:07 pace) at the mandatory 1% incline. With a short (I was bored) cool down I ended up with a little over eight miles and about an hours worth of running. Tuesday took me to the multi rider studio to lead one of my classes and boy it was a tough session. The theme was L5 (vo2max) intervals and to say (after yesterdays run) I struggled would be an understatement. Main set was essentially 5x2.5 mins at 120% FTP with a equal rest interval. To see my athletes (who have been riding consistently, unlike me!) cruise through it was great, I had to sit out the last minute of each interval and shout encouragement, my legs were fried. Wednesday saw me hit the snow shoes again! This time I used Cindy's as she was on her skis. They are smaller than mine and made for a faster run. I again ran six miles but on a slightly more challenging trail and managed to get it done in 57 minutes for an average of 9:30/mile. It was challening but fun and I think if this snow keeps up I have found a new sport!


Yes, I know, what a great looking snow man and who offended Zoozoo? Wow what a week it has been here in Newcastle. With several inches of snow over the last week it has made life a little more interesting. Throw into the mix a visit from Kathy and Gavin (my sister in law and her son) and it has made for a hectic few days. It was certainly a lot of fun spending some time with the family even if I was a little guilty at times of sitting at the computer working when i should have probably been out playing in the snow!

What was interesting was trying to think of ways to get some training in, in spite of the snow and ice (which made driving on a couple of the days impossible, well for Cindy and I anyway). So what are your options? Well they are many but the first real 'snow' session was on Sunday where Cindy and I decided to go for a snow shoe run.

Friday, November 28, 2008


My new logo, what do you think? I love it and want to thank Job Hall for all his hard work and for putting up with me during the design process. I also want to thank all my athletes (and my wonderful wife) for their input. I was so impressed by all the well thought out feedback and comments I received from you all.

So where to now? Well, a completely redesigned website for one thing which will include forums, ecommerce and other 'surprise' features. It should be finished by the end of January 2009, fingers crossed. Also it is time to announce the merger of Team Synergy with Vo2Multisport creating Team Vo2Multisport. The merger is a win for both parties. I receive more exposure with team members racing in my branded clothing and they receive enhanced support from some of my sponsors and more direction going forward.

Another exciting piece of news is the launch of VO2 Endurance! This is a 70.3 and IM specific training protocol that focuses on offering athletes of all abilities a generic program to follow but with the addition of a forum for communication and the opportunity to attend a face to face coaches panel once every four weeks for a Q&A session to review the past four weeks. The best news is the introduction to the Vo2Multisport team of Chris Whyte (Power Guru, all round nice guy and awesome AG triathlete) and Michael Gordon (Professional Triathlete and runner extroadinaire). Both of these coaches and athletes bring so much to the table for Vo2Multisport and will help move VO2 Endurance forward.

Please keep an eye on the website over the coming weeks and months and look for some very cool changes. Exciting times ahead for V02Multisport.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Athlete Profile - Mary Frasier

On the left is one dedicated individual and athlete and friend I take great pleasure in working with. I have had the pleasure of coaching Mary for about 14 months now and during that time have seen her come a long way as an athlete.

I first met Mary at my twice weekly triathlon specific swim workout at Samena in Bellevue. Very soon it was clear to me that Mary had a great work ethic and consistency to her training. When she asked me to coach her over a year ago I jumped at the chance. To give you some idea of just how far Mary progressed during the first six months of our relationship here is the outcome from three of her FTP tests during the Winter (all done on a CT in a controlled environment):

Test 1 October 27th 2007 - AVG Watts for 10 Mile TT = 157 (FTP 149)
Test 2 January 26th 2008 - AVG Watts for 10 Mile TT = 178 (FTP 169)
Test 3 March 8th 2008 - AVG Watts for 1o Mile TT = 192 (FTP 182)

This represents a 22% improvement in Mary's FTP power off the back of a good triathlon season and a relatively small amount of weekly cycling volume (come on this was a Seattle Winter). I was more impressed with these test results as Mary was already a very competent well trained athlete whose cycling had always been her strength.

Mary showed gains in her swim and run also but I believe the gains made in her riding had a notable impact on her triathlon performances. Boise 70.3 was the first test of the year in the build towards IMCDA (Mary's A race). There was no taper to speak of going into this race and with the race on June 1st she was going into it with minimal open water swim training and a little rusty as this was the first triathlon of the year.

The outcome was a podium finish, PR and all round confidence building race going into the seasons A race IMCDA. To finish 4th in her AG at a 70.3 series event in her first triathlon of the season and to register a PR was better than we anticipated. Mary raced smart, executed to perfection and her new found bike fitness allowed her to run strong.

Mary did her first Ironman in 2006 (IMAZ) and finished in a respectable 14:36:31. She then waited a year before tackling IMCDA in 2007, a big improvement she finished in 13:46:46 taking 50 minutes off her previous time on arguably a more challenging course (I say arguably because the wind and heat in AZ can make CDA seem like a walk in the park if they decide to not co-operate). I knew Mary was ready for a good race at this years event and believed in her ability to PR. Her AG is a tough one F45-49 but so be it, it is what it is.

Going into the 2008 race Mary's preparation had been flawless. No periods of forced down time, no injuries, no illnesses and some very good breakthrough workouts accomplished including the great race at Boise. I knew there was nothing more Mary nor I could do as race day approached. Simply put she was ready! Solid swim, excellent (maybe too excellent) ride and an okay run saw Mary PR by 42:30, a huge margin. The whole process of getting Mary ready, reading her training feedback and marveling at her consistency and ability to apply herself was a joy.

Mary went on to post another Half Ironman PR at Troika in August and is now focusing on her run. What does 2009 hold? A new AG and an overseas IM (Brasil) will present more opportunity for someone as dedicated and strong as Mary is. My job as her coach is an easy one with such a coachable athlete.

Bring on 2009 and watch out Brasil.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Training Camps Exposed

As someone who earns their living through coaching triathletes I always have to think hard about the ROI on running training camps. Most of you probably think 'wow what a great way to spend a week or two, training alongside athletes and enjoying typically good weather all the while getting paid to do it'. Now I hate to shatter those illusions but the bottom line is training camps are hard work to organize, promote, and run. Not only that, the return is often very low given the significant investment of time and energy.

So I hear you ask, why bother running camps in the first place? Well here is the crux of this post and may I just bring your attention to the photo on the right. What do you see? I see a bunch of friends who look healthy and happy posing for a photo in a beautiful location somewhere just West of Beebee Bridge, WA. In actual fact many of these people only met each other for the first time four days prior to the photo being taken. Now maybe I am just sentimental (or just mental) but I love the fact this group of people came together at a training camp organized by my wife Cindy and I to help prepare them for the biggest race of their year (for some of them the biggest race of their life to date). To be able to impart my knowledge and experience onto these athletes and provide training opportunities that they themsleves would have been unlikely to undertake in the comforts of their own world gives me a huge sense of satisfaction. To know after the fact that they would all go on to have great races at their respective IM races also gives me a warm feeling.

So I run the numbers and they don't always look good but would I ever stop running training camps to help athletes move their athletic potential forwards, never!

Friday, October 10, 2008

And the winner is???

Well my wife I guess for getting a photo with 'man crush' material Craig Alexander. But seriously Craig (Crowie) is a very realistic contender for the top spot. Having sat down to dinner with TJ and discussed some of the training they undertook together in Boulder I have to say Craig's workouts were very impressive. The 2008 champion, maybe!

Monday, October 6, 2008

The TYR Family

Arrived safe and sound with only one small problem, no bags! Okay I dramatize, they arrived on the next flight several hours after we arrived so not too much of a horror story. My biggest single concern was my bike (I traveled with my P3C in the hope of getting some training done for 70.3 Worlds) as when I left it the oversize baggage guys had decided to search it and all I saw were straps and bubble wrap everywhere! It is still in the box as we speak so I will update you later on the outcome.

Cindy and I were met at the airport by my friend and boss Ryan Dolan (National Sales Manager Multisport and Team at TYR Sport) and were greeted by a big bag of TYR goodies some of which were custom made for the race. Cindy also got some rather nice swim suits from TYR's parent company Swimwear Anywhere (who own Juicy Couture, Donna Karen etc etc) so she was happy!

The rest of the evening was spent the three of us having dinner with TJ Tollakson and talking about what else - Triathlon, perfect! In the picture on the left Ryan, yours truly in the middle and TJ on the right, what a trio! Off to bed now for an early night after lots of travel, and an early wake up call to go for a run before the day begins.

I love this Island!

Kona 2008 - A view from the industry side

Here starts the unofficial Vo2Multisport/TYR Ironman Hawaii 2008 blog. I will try and post somewhat regularly work and play permitting! This will be my first time on the island as a spectator and I must confess I am really looking forward to it. On the two occasions I have raced here (2004 and 2005) I can honestly say the race itself has not been terribly enjoyable (am I allowed to say that?) but the build up and the post race euphoria were incredible. I love the Big Island and the energy it exudes is phenomenal, add to that the fact my wife and I cemented our relationship here and it makes it a really special place.

Firstly let me clear up a few things if I may (hopefully I won’t anger Madam Pele in the process). This is not the 'hardest course’ on the Ironman Calendar. The lava fields are not expansive. The natural energy lab is no more difficult than any other part of the run course. The swim is the most brutal one I have ever experienced in my 19 years of racing. Alii Drive is the most hallowed ground in this sport and the most awesome finish ever in any sport.

Photos and more to come as the week progresses, watch this space!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Vo2 Athlete Profile - Damon Barnett

Over the coming weeks I shall profile athletes on the Vo2 roster and review their year and upcoming season. It is at this time of the year that I evaluate athletes race results (whether they know it or not!) and try and address their limiters going forward to the next season of racing. This is an important process to go through and one which yields (after close inspection) some surprises. Reviewing Damon's was no different.

Damon and I started working together in June this year and to date the relationship has been a very successful one. I cannot hide the fact I was excited that Damon chose me to coach him after contacting several other equally capable coaches in the area. I saw immediately that he had the potential to do well in the sport. He could swim well and was in overall good aerobic condition. A little raw when it came to cycling and running, but skills I was confident he could master in a short period of time.

Damon qualified for AG Nationals at the Moses Lake Olympic distance race on June 7th. He finished in a time of 2:12:39, good enough for 24th Overall and 2nd in his AG (Damon is 21). The overall winner Winslow Tandler, won in a time of 2:01:49 and took the Gold in Damon's AG. This was a solid race with little or no structured training. After seeing this result I knew Damon with a little direction could eclipse that result so after agreeing to coach him (and vice versa) we set a target of qualifying for AG Worlds in 2009 to be held in Noosa on the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia (a nice location!). This required a top 16 AG finish on the challenging Hagg Lake course in Oregon on September 20th.

Damon adapted to my training protocol well and in no time made significant progress across all disciplines. I wanted to work hard on Damon's run knowing that this would be the difference between top 16 and top 30 in the very competitive field he was likely to encounter at Nationals. Always mindful to not push to hard to soon I had Damon run using the Daniels formulae (adpated for a multisport athlete). It worked well and with perhaps a little more 'T' pace running than I might usually incorporate Damon was running fast off the bike in no time. A test race at Beaver Lake highlighted just how far Damon had come in the short time we had been working together. He finished 6th overall winning his AG in a decent field of athletes. Not only that but he beat several athletes from the Moses Lake race who had raced close to 10 minutes faster than Damon back in June, progress I think you would agree!

Knowing how valuable course knowledge would be for this race Damon traveled down to Hagg Lake to swim, ride and run at the race venue on the course that would be used for the race. This proved useful and Damon even jumped into the Scoggins Valley race that uses much of the same course as a test event for the big day. It proved useful and Damon finished 4th overall again securing the AG win and taking several notable scalps in the process. I thought long and hard about next steps and decided it would be beneficial for Damon to race Black Hills early in September. I knew this was something of a risk as a bad race and a loss of confidence could have hurt Damon's preparation for his 'A' race but to me the positives outweighed the negatives so race he did. The outcome - 1st Overall and even more notable scalps taken in the process. What was pleasing was the way he ran coming off a strong ride. I knew then that our goal was within reach and provided Damon executed the race he was capable of a good result was there.

I loaned Damon my disc wheel for Nationals and we ran through every possible scenario for the race. Unlike long course races there is less time to make up for errors in transition or by going out too conservatively on the run so with less margin of error execution needs to be flawless. Thank goodness Damon delivered and finished 14th in his AG, just 1 second in front of the guys in 15th and 16th! A perfectly executed race and the desired outcome achieved. Australia here we come! Even more pleasing was the gap to Windslow Tandler who beat Damon by 11 minutes back in June at the Moses Lake qualifier taking the overall win. That gap was reduced to just 30 seconds!!!

Going forward Damon needs to work on his technique in all disciplines and more importantly remain healthy and injury free through to next season. With World's in September this gives Damon the chance to try his hand at the 70.3 distance and he intends to debut in that distance at 70.3 California in April 2009. Watch this space.

An awesome season and I am excited for what the future might hold.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Black Diamond Olympic

My first Olympic distance race of the season and a fine day it was. Black Diamond, located near Enumclaw in the shadow of Mt Rainier is a great venue but the weather for the September race (there is another race at the same venue in June) can be a little hit and miss. Not so this year. The day dawned with clear skies and by the time the race start came around (9:15) it was a balmy 60 degrees, perfect!

The team I race for were represented well. We did not have numbers but we had talent. Michael Gordon, Bryan Urakawa, Mike Pritchard and myself on the mens side and Kara Nielsen in the womens race. There was also ROn Stadick (far right in the picture) racing in the Sprint fresh from a PR at Ironman Canada (in fact Michael, Bryan and Mike had all raced in Penticton at the end of AUgust).

The race went well. I knew I was racing for 2nd with Michael in the field and my aim was to stay out in front as long as I could in the hope of keeping others at bay with a good solid showing in all three disciplines. That is pretty much how it went. I was third out of the water, first out on the bike and then held this postion until around mile 22 of the bike when Michael passed me. As I was racking my bike Michael was just leaving the rack to head to the run exit, I guess I was maybe 30 seconds down. I really wanted to run sub 40 minutes but this course has some funky off road sections that were going to make that a real challenge. I ran consistently despite a little cramping of the vas med and knew I had 2nd locked up after seeing the other athletes including Mike and Bryan (both of who were looking good and in the top 10) too far behind to catch me unless something dramatic happened.

I crossed the line 2nd overall in a time of 2:06:32 just under 4 minutes behind the winner (Professional Triathlete Michael Gordon) so I was happy. The next guy was just under 5 minutes behind me. Bryan and Mike had another epic battle (they have been close in all their races this year) with Mike posting 4th fastest run of the day to beat Bryan by 37 seconds! On the men's side we finished 1st, 2nd, 6th and 7th overall.

Kara had another strong performance and locked up the overall win in a time of 2:22:29, her margin of victory 5 minutes. Ron managed 10th overall in the Sprint race winning his age category handily.

All I wanted was to post consistent splits in each discipline and not have a bad element to my race. I achieved this. My transitions could have been a little slicker and I struggled to get my nutrition down on the bike which may have impacted my run a little but to post the 3rd fastest swim time, 3rd fastest bike time and 7th fastest run time was in my mind solid execution.

Congrats to Vo2 athlete Scott Hill who had a fine race and finished in 2:48:42 despite a crazy week and training through it.

Thank you to my wonderful wife Cindy who took the photos and shouted encouragement to everyone throughout the day. My next race will be an open 10km, my prediction 37:47. Watch this space!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Tucson Warm Weather Camp Dates 2009

Dates have been finalized, please email me through my website to register your interest
  • CAMP 2 FEBRUARY 9-14
  • CAMP 3 FEBRUARY 16-21
  • CAMP 4 FEBRUARY 23-28
Camp will be co coached with Mark Van Akkeren.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Congratulations IMC Athletes!

I am so proud of my athletes and took huge satisfaction in seeing everyone cross the line. Here is a brief summary of the results:

  • Michael Pritchard - 10:12:59, 16th AG, 104th Overall PR by 00:57:26
  • Cindy Bigglestone - 11:00:53, 8th AG, 321st Overall (40th Female) PR by 00:16:36
  • Win Van Pelt - 11:05:07, 15th AG, 345th Overall PR by 00:18:10
  • Ron Stadick - 11:19:48, 24th AG, 426th Overall PR by 02:59:12
  • Ed Bullock - 12:12:33, 56th AG, 812th Overall PR by 00:41:30
  • Jeff Platt - 12:45:47, 62nd AG, 1067th Overall 1st Ironman Finish
  • Deb Rubens - 12:47:12, 49th AG, 1077th Overall PR by 00:23:16
  • Chris Esposito - 13:58:54, 182nd AG, 1526th Overall 1st Ironman Finish
  • Tami Prock - 16:17:32, 103rd AG, 1988th Overall 3rd Ironman Finish

This was the first year in the last five that I had not raced, I wanted to be there to support and cheer on my athletes on their big day. I was glad to not be racing and in fact thoroughly enjoyed the experience of being out on the course on race day and trying to track down where everyone was.

Being fortunate enough to work for TYR I had VIP access to transition and other normally off limits areas for spectators, this meant I could be right at the swim exit and in transition helping pump up tires on race morning. I also really got to experience the energy of all the athletes right before the cannon fired and started their day. Truly awesome.

Thank you to all our sponsors and thank you athletes for making this a most remarkable day for me. You are all rock stars.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Having just finished reading an article in Runners World I got to thinking (and wondering) why so many athletes follow the standard protocol of periodization. Now what I mean by this is most people have a short preparation phase (usually four weeks), then begin their ‘base’ training (some proclaim the longer this phase lasts the better able the athlete will be to absorb more intense training further down the line) often recommended to be 12-16 weeks in length, they follow that with a phase of higher intensity ‘race preparation’ work and then go into a competition phase. Upon completion of this there is a short block of rest where the emphasis is on rest and recuperation and getting away from routine (often people are encouraged to go hike, kayak, cross country ski or to just ‘train’ when they want without structure).

Now this model is certainly not obsolete but I think it has been proven over and over again that it does just not fit with many Northern Hemisphere climates. Take where I live as an example. Okay, now Seattle is a beautiful place and as much as I moan to my wife about the rain and consistently cold and cloudy days during our fall, winter and spring I love it. What I don’t love is the thought of riding my bike (resplendent with fenders) for three to five hours in the cold and wet weather at an intensity that will not exactly help me generate much in the way of heat. Now this is the same for many of us living in the upper half of the US. Thankfully we don’t have to deal with sub zero temperatures and deep snow like some of our Eastern US counterparts!

The one year (2006/2007) I attempted to ride with some degree of frequency outdoors in a Pacific North West Winter I got thoroughly miserable and vowed to myself never to put myself through that again (maybe I am just soft)! I came through it somewhat unscathed but I believe it left me with even more disdain for the Seattle climate. To cap it all off my ‘A’ race that year was compromised by a bout of coughing blood (can’t blame the winter for that, but just thought I would continue my rant).

So how did I race through the 2007 season, well my first race was Oceanside (March 31st) and it went as well I thought my fitness would allow with the exception of the run which was uncharacteristically poor. I can’t really think of why this was other than perhaps a lack of any consistent workouts at or above FTP, coupled with even less work at or above VO2Max. I was running well (or so I thought) and during my long miserable training rides continued to push my regular training partners. Now I know this was an early season race but still it represented an investment of time and money to get there and I was not happy with the outcome. The season improved from there once I changed gear and started to introduce some intensity (and some racing). The problem for me now was inconsistency due to travel with my job (I was away on average 7-10 days a month often with no access to a pool and/or gym so that meant no swimming and little to no cycling). In spite of the limited volume the weather had improved along with my mood and I had some respectable results. I placed 3rd in a local sprint triathlon, 5th at the Canadian LC Champs and raced Vineman in 4:26 narrowly missing a Kona slot (by one place). All the time my goal was a good race at Ironman Canada and a hope of besting my PR on that course of 9:43 and securing a Kona slot. Everything seemed to be on track but an unfortunate chain of events leading up to the race left me taking some medication for a muscular issue with my left trapezius and rotator cuff. The medication caused me to cough blood during the race and so I made what I think was the right decision and pulled out in the early stages of the run (my first ever DNF and a tough one to deal with) whilst in the top 25 overall.

Anyhow I digress. The fact of the matter is having looked at historical training journals it is clear that when I chose to adopt a non linear approach (with less total volume) I raced better throughout the season and had no ‘early season’ disasters, I was competitive in all my races. N=1, but now having used this approach with many of my athletes including cyclists and runners (and my wife), it is clear that this approach leaves an athlete more psychologically prepared, physically fresher, and no question, able to work at a much higher % of LT than had they adopted a more traditional periodization model.

Year to date all of my athletes who have raced have achieved results above and beyond their expectations. Now this is a real achievement given some of the challenging goals that they set for themselves (after consultation with me of course) at the start of the year (training year). I have seen more PR’s and podiums than I ever expected to and had some very pleasant surprises along the way. Have their been any below par performances, of course, but they represent a tiny percentage given the number of races and athletes that I am currently working with. I will write more soon and qualify some of the gains in performance exhibited by my athletes following this soon to be standard method of periodizing an athletes training year.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Coaches Dilemma

It seems almost any Tom, Dick or Harry is a triathlon coach nowadays. What makes the profession so alluring? Is it the chance to generate some illicit earnings to help fund the oh so expensive multisport lifestyle? Or could it be people truly believe that a couple of seasons of racing and a USAT Coaching Certification give them the skills they need to help others achieve their multisport goals? I am not too sure, but I guess both of the above and many other reasons that I don't want to speculate on right now.

One of the more frustrating things about it is the fact that most of this new breed of coaches do this for secondary income. Some of them are Professional Athletes who supplement their meager earnings by coaching. Many of them are professionals in more mainstream occupations that believe they have acquired enough knowledge and skill sets to be able to impart advice to others in their spare time! As a full time triathlon coach, (with close to 20 years of racing and training experience, a Bachelor of Science Degree in Sport and Exercise Science, many other coaching certifications and numerous podium and overall wins at distances ranging from Sprint to Ironman) I don’t mind other people with genuine passion and enthusiasm for helping others succeed enter the world of coaching, whether as a hobby or as a full time career. What I do mind are coaches who do not take the time to fully assess their athletes and help prepare them for what they will encounter not only in a multisport event but in their training for the said event.

It is very apparent that this ‘new breed' of coach is very adept at generating generic workouts, which in reality could have been plagiarized from any triathlon coaching manual, online forum, magazine or other coach. Goodness knows I have even heard of coaches using programs they have paid for (themselves) from other coaches and selling that to unsuspecting clients who are under the impression they are getting a ‘tailored, personalized program’, ha! One step further on this scale of unscrupulous coaching practices is the bear faced cheek of those willing to coach athletes remotely without any real concern for the development and personal well being of the athlete. I have seen first hand the impact of this and the outcome is never good. Athletes who have no understanding of training session objectives, athletes blindly trying to use RPE as the only means of workout feedback (might work for a very experienced athlete, but a novice!).

So here is my appeal to all of you out there considering hiring a coach. DO consider where your current skill level is. If you feel it is low then my recommendation is to find a local coach who can work closely with you in each discipline and educate you in the art of transitions as well as the technical nuances of swim, bike, and run. If you are a first or second year triathlete who wants to progress up from short course racing to long course racing, ask yourself, do you need a coach or can you continue making improvements adopting a simple approach of progressive overload and maybe joining a local club or team to get advice and help. Some of you may want that extra hand holding and full prescription that a coach can offer but again I would argue against considering anyone not local to you.

For those of you with very specific objectives regardless of experience level I would suggest you are the group that has the most to gain from using a coach. When you have specific targets and objectives it is all to easy to bull dozer your way into a program you may have found online or elsewhere that is just to generic and not targeted specifically to you as an athlete. There are a huge number of risk factors for the goal driven athlete with a specific objective in mind, not least the risk or injury and illness. Technical deficiencies can lead to long term breaks from training. Neglecting strength and conditioning, and incorrect setting of training zones are just a small example of where your sweat and toil can go wasted.

Find a real coach, interview them, find out what other commitments they have and how many athletes they are currently coaching. Ask to speak to some of their existing athletes and ask them candidly if they are happy with the support they receive. Find out what value add the coach brings, do they offer underwater video analysis to help you with your swim or if not are they able to refer to an expert in this field who they trust. What is their coaching rationale and how do they justify it. Will they be at your ‘A’ races to help you through the day?

Even if you find a coach that on paper, and after interviewing seem to know their stuff, do you have a rapport with them? This is probably the final piece of the puzzle. Once last thing, some coaches may make the decision that you are not right for them, if this is the case it is a sure fire sign that the coach cares about you and is willing to put to one side the financial benefits of ‘one more client’, for the greater good of you the athlete!

Good luck, real coaches are hard to find.........

Friday, March 7, 2008

Vo2Multisport @Camp Training in Tucson AZ - Part 1

During the month of February I had the great pleasure of spending some time down in Tucson. Now, by 'some time' I actually mean two weeks! Before you all get jealous and think all I had to do was swim, ride and run you would be mistaken.

I arrived in Tucson with my wife Cindy on Tuesday February 19th. It always amazes me how in a little over two hours flight time I go from cold and rain in Seattle to beautiful sunshine, clear skies and warm temperatures. Bikes and bags in tow Cindy went to pick up the mini van and I hung tight looking after the luggage. A quick transition (I am a fan of those) and we were on the road. Our task was to get things ready for the campers that were arriving from Seattle on Wednesday, this included stocking the house with food, building bikes (these were shipped ahead of time to our wonderful friends at and generally checking out the area.

I must give out a big shout to the City of Tucson for being totally awesome in helping Cindy and I plan the trip, there guidance was invaluable. They even helped with our house location. We stayed in Redington Ranch, a gated complex on the far East side of town. The location would prove to be perfect with easy access to quiet roads, a great pool and the oh so beautiful Saguaro East National Park for trail runs. You can find some photos on our team website, they capture the true beauty of the desert and give a flavor of our training rides.

Our house was huge, including a pool, hot tub, and the most tremendous views of the Tucson skyline perhaps anywhere in the area. The sunsets were spectacular and the city scape by night was a sight to behold. The accommodation was of very good quality and all campers were suitably impressed.

After Cindy and I had explored the house and grounds we unpacked the food we had purchased on route from the airport and headed off to Trisports to pick up bikes and some long ride essentials (co2's, spare tubes, and some treats for ourselves). The journey from our house was straightforward and as always we were looked after by experienced and friendly staff. In this case my good friend Billy Brenden (a senior buyer) from Trisports escorted us around the store and pointed us in the right direction for everything we needed. Cindy even managed to pick up a pair of skins recovery tights, ever since I had purchased a pair on a trip to Salt Lake City she had become rather envious of my bedtime habit of pulling on some tights before bed ;o)

Bikes built and everything in hand we headed to bed for an early night. The athletes arrived at noon the next day and Cindy and I wanted to check out the pool we would be using for all our swim workouts. The closest pool was Udall, about a 1o mile trip from the house but all down one road (Tanque Verde) which made things simple. It has ten ('ish) lanes and was generally not crowded, perfect! We had a quick swim and then Cindy trucked off to pick up the athletes, I headed to the house to tweak the bikes and ensure lunch was on the table.

Stay tuned for more coming soon........

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Swim Power

I have been coaching a twice weekly swim group (swim4tri) for some time now (approx 2.5 years) and take immense pleasure in seeing swimmers go from barely being able to complete 100 yards without stopping, to breaking 10 minutes for a 500 yard timed swim.  Taking a swimmer from incompetent freestyle swimmer to competent is for me somewhat easy.  I seem perfectly able to smooth out most peoples form and get them into a rhythm with their swimming.  Focus on body position and pushing the water in the right direction is the primary emphasis for these swimmers and my coaching style and ability seems to get these swimmers to a good level fast!

So the perennial problem (for me anyhow) has been progressing my 7:30-8 minute swimmers (remember none of these swimmers come from a swim background and most learnt to swim as adults).  Most of the group swim twice weekly and have been doing so for some time, not all are able to add a third session due to time constraints and wanting to focus the appropriate amount of time on cycling and running.  So a dilemma!  I became very aware that my coaching style needed an injection of new ideas and so I thought about what I could do to remedy this. Steve Tarpinian has been coaching swimmers and triathletes for a long time (over 20 years) and I have always been a big fan of his instructional DVD Swim Power.  I contacted Steve and asked if he could travel over to Bellevue and offer his expertise to my swimmers (and indirectly me of course!), fortunately he said yes!

Steve was able to spend some time with me and my wife Cindy in the days prior to the clinic and this time was so valuable to me.  I gained a new perspective on some of the drills I have been performing with my swimmers for the last several years and got some valuable feedback on the 'early catch' and elbow bend.  Incorporating swim cords (stretch cords) on the poolside suddenly took on a new meaning and the value of this simple addition to my weekly group workouts I could envision would be significant.

The clinic came and went and was very successful.  I had the chance to support Steve and help him run the clinic while all the time trying to listen for his words of wisdom to take on board and use for my own athletes.  I took detailed notes down on the video analysis of my own swimmers strokes and am now prescribing their drills with more direction.  Within my Swim4Tri group I am incorporating some of Steve's guidelines for correct drill execution and yes I am starting to see some progress from those swimmers that were in a bit of a rut.  Some of the group are even committing to add a third swim workout to their training schedules!!!

I have now purchased a coach cam and as a result can now offer under water video analysis and drill prescription for all my athletes and swimmers.  I am excited to take my swim coaching to the next level, for those interested check out my website

Friday, February 1, 2008

Making Changes

Life presents us with many cross roads. I am at one of those junctions right now. Which road should I take? Triathlon is and always has been my passion ever since I discovered this wonderful sport of ours back in 1989. I quickly understood that Triathlon was more than just a sport or pastime it was a lifestyle.

Nineteen years on and I find myself working in the industry I love marketing and promoting what I believe to be the best wetsuit brand in the sport (blueseventy). However due to recent changes in my role within the company I find myself facing a tough decision.

My new role has me promoting and leading the entry of blueseventy into the world of open water swimming (in the USA). Now, I love swimming and consider myself a relatively good exponent of the first discipline of our sport however on a standalone basis I find it hard to get excited about. As much as I have tried to turn myself on to this new Olympic discipline (Beijing 2008 will represent the inaugural year of the 10km open water swim as a medal event) I find it lacks the color, flair and passion of triathlon, I hate to say it but it is also not 'cool' in the same way that triathlon is.

This role change has come at the same time I decided that I wanted to more actively get involved in coaching (something I have been doing ever since obtaining my degree in Sport and Exercise Science back in 1995). I have been very fortunate to have had a lot if interest in my coaching business of late and this has helped me make the tough financial decision of leaving blueseventry and throwing myself headlong into full time coaching.

Those of you that have helped reassure me that pursuing what you are passionate about is the right thing to do and those that have joined my coaching group in recent months, I thank you. My wonderful wife Cindy who puts up with my ever changing mind (which I know drives her insane at times) I love you and thank you for allowing me to pursue this. Without your blessing this decision would have been impossible to make.

Rest assured I will continue to work with blueseventy and represent them as an ambassador locally and nationally, my time with them has taught me a great deal and exposed me further to the industry and sport I love.

Please follow my progress on this blog as I look forward to an exciting new career.