Thursday, April 9, 2015

Test Workouts and Data

One of the biggest reasons I use data with athletes isn't to simply stare at numbers and restrict athletes with the numbers. It's actually to help the athlete see their improvement, raising their confidence as the key events near, so they are on the start line, prepared and believing they can perform well. Yesterday, an athlete logged this in TrainingPeaks, which shows the value of the data from test workouts, and how it affects the athlete's confidence, excitement, and even sense of fulfillment from the work they are doing...

    Monster day on the bike. I noticed last year I did this exact same workout 17 days out from Nationals also. Check out the comparison:
    Today's Wattage by 5 min: 415, 395, 404, 403, 400, 393, 395, 398
    Last year wattage by 5 min: 348, 370, 347, 345, 349, 334, 325, 333

The workout was 8x5 mins, with 2 min recovery. And he was the one who went back and looked up the workout from the prior year, and listed the numbers from the session, not me. The data was so clear to him and his improvement, he was excited to look back and see how it compared.

This athlete is preparing for USAT Collegiate Triathlon Nationals in a few weeks. Last year he set the bike course record at Nationals, so seeing this big of improvement in his numbers, he knows he is capable of even better this year, and excited about it. That success in training is the basis for his mental preparation and focus on the startline, able to focus on himself, not worrying about the competition, or other things out of his control.

If you don't have data to compare your workouts, and track how your training is going, you're missing an opportunity to be truly confident and mentally ready to race.

Coach Vance

Monday, March 16, 2015

Now is the time...

To address all the things you've been ignoring. Things in training you've not been doing over the past year, like types of workouts, different warm-ups, testing new products, different bike position, new strength routine, your diet, new training group, new coach, or whatever else you think might need to be changed.

You can't wait until the middle of the season, it will be too late or too risky to see the benefit. If you're really interested in seeing what works, just change one thing. Pick the biggest need or what you're most motivated to change, and go with that. If you change too much, you risk injury, or not really knowing which one affected you the most, (positive or negative).

Make the commitment now, before it's too late to reap the rewards this season.

Coach Vance

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Pre-Workout Preparation and Routine

Trainingpeaks asked me to write an article on things to do before a workout, and I thought it was a great topic. I think a lot of athletes just jump into a workout, without proper preparation to maximize the time and investment. Here's what I wrote....


5 Things to Do Before Every Workout

Many athletes start their workout by lacing up their shoes or throwing on a helmet, and getting right into their session. Of course just getting started can be a difficult step at times, but paying attention to a few specific preparation keys before you start a workout can mean the difference between getting the training response you want and possibly taking steps backwards.
Here are five things every athlete should do in this order, before they workout, to maximize the training session.

1. Clear Your Mind

All athletes have stresses in their daily lives that have nothing to do with workouts, training, or racing. Instead, they have life, work, family and other stresses, all which can take away from the quality of a session. If an athlete comes into a session with a focus on the negatives, it can be hard to accomplish positive things.
I have seen a number of athletes quit a session that was going well, change a session entirely simply because of attitude, or fail to execute a session effectively, because they are too distracted with the other aspects of their life. Sometimes athletes want to take their aggression out in a session, which may be the exact opposite of the purpose of the session, such as a recovery spin or technical development session.
A little bit of pause to relax, clear the mind and put 100 percent mental focus into the session will get higher quality and better training response from the session.

Read the rest of the article here: http://home.trainingpeaks.com/blog/article/5-things-to-do-before-every-workout


Coach Vance

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Race Planning - Better than Good

“Everyone has a plan 'till they get punched in the mouth.”
-          Mike Tyson

Mike Tyson was one of the most feared fighters in the history of boxing. Yet, there were plenty of experts in the sport who spoke of his weaknesses and how to beat him, as though it were not that hard. Many of his opponents trained and planned to beat him according to his weaknesses. And much like the quote above from Tyson, those plans may have been very well devised, but once the match started and they took those first few punches, dealing with the adversity of the match, it became a challenge to stick to the plan.


That’s triathlon and racing. No matter how well you plan, when you get into the big races, against the toughest competition, your resolve and steadfastness to that plan will be tested greatly. 

Your plan better not be good, it must be great. And it should have contingencies if the punch to mouth was more than you expected. 

Coach Vance

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Hard to do Positive Things with a Negative Focus

I said something the other day to one of my athletes....

"It's hard to accomplish positive things if you are constantly focused on negatives."

So often, athletes ruin any sense of confidence in themselves, by focusing on the negatives of their performances, training, lifestyle or injuries. Many miss the enjoyment of training and improving, and most certainly the rewards of it, when they focus on all the things they can't do, or why they can't win, or do well, or stay healthy.

What is your focus on? The negatives, weaknesses and challenges? Or your approach to getting better, and excitement about improving?

Coach Vance

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Training Doesn't have to be Complicated to be Successful

I hear a lot of athletes and coaches spouting out their knowledge about training, using complex terms, or creating complicated workouts. It really doesn't need to be complicated to be successful though. If I put a list of the most important things, complicated or super-scientific training isn't listed anywhere near the top.

Things that are near the top? Consistency first, then injury prevention, recovery, diet, sleep, and progression of training load are just a few I would rank near the top, or at least well ahead of the complexity of training. I have seen plenty of athletes train in ways which go against common exercise science, but because they are consistent, and do many of these other things, are still able to do fairly well and improve.

If you're going for an Ironman World Championship, Olympic Gold Medal, or ITU WTS Championship, you need to really look at the science behind every decision you make in training and recovery. But that's a very limited group of athletes and coaches, who can control many other variables in their lives, (not having to balance a job, full-time focus on training and recovery), so it doesn't apply to most athletes.

Keep the training simple, and be consistent. Stop making it complicated, and you'll likely be successful if you are consistent in executing it.

Coach Vance

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Simple Steps for Planning Your Season

Here's an article I wrote for TrainingPeaks on how to plan your season, simply and effectively. I think you'll find it helpful if you're looking to find that breakthrough.

Admit it. You’ve seen patterns in your training and racing, and how the results are affected. There’s a time of year you find yourself “killing it” in training and races. There are other parts of the year where you struggle, battle plateaus, mentally struggle, and can’t seem to find the magic on race day that you found in other times of the year.

Phases and Concepts

It’s time to review your planning for those seasons, (or lack of planning), and try to learn from the patterns and plan your training so you can avoid the roller coaster. Ideally, a season shouldn’t have many up and downs, but sometimes a step back at the right time, both mentally and physically, can prevent big peaks and valleys. I prefer to use three phases when planning: Transition (period of recovery between seasons), General Preparation, and Specific Preparation. These will be discussed in more detail below.
In addition to planning out your season in phases, you need to look at a two key concepts that we know about training- variance and specificity. Both are necessary in order to plan your season effectively.
You can read the rest of the article here. I hope you enjoy it!

Coach Vance

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Is it really race nutrition that's the issue?

If you're finding that in an Ironman you always have stomach issues you can't explain? Feeling frustrated that suddenly your nutrition plan fails you? Maybe the problem isn't your nutrition?

There is no nutritional plan on earth which will make up for poor pacing. If you push the bike, you run the risk of the stomach becoming too sensitive to handle what you put in it. Put more in your stomach, and the odds of GI distress is even greater.

If you race at a higher intensity than you train at, and then suffer stomach issues, the issue isn't the nutrition so much as it's the intensity and pacing during your race.

Many athletes think the goal is to shove as many calories in their gut as it can process. The goal should be to simply take in as much as you need to accomplish your goal. Anything more than that, and the risk of GI distress greatly increases, ESPECIALLY if the athlete is racing HARD.

If your training doesn't match your race intensity, and you are having stomach issues, look at your training and race execution, first, and then match your caloric intake and concentrations to that proper intensity.

Coach Vance

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The 2015 Ironman World Champs - Women's Race Basic Numbers

Yesterday I posted the basic numbers from the top 25 men overall, and today I am sharing the top 25 women. More data and insight coming soon. (Click on the image to enlarge).


Coach Vance

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The 2015 Ironman World Champs - Men's Race Basic Numbers

Over the next few weeks I will begin to really break down the men's and women's pro races in Kona, from the 2015 Ironman World Championships. So let's start with today's first numbers, the top 25 men's splits by each leg, and how they break down. (Click on image to enlarge).

***Realize, this is only those who finished the race in the top 25 pro men. Athletes who DNF'ed are not listed.


More data coming tomorrow, and the days ahead.

Coach Vance