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

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Ironman Marathon Execution

Many athletes I speak with like to tell me the pace they want to hit running off the bike in an Ironman. They say things like, "I will/want to start off at 7:00 min/mile and hold on. If I feel good after halfway, I will push the second half pace." Or they will say, "I am going to push hard from the opening mile, trying to stay with my competitors or pull away from them."

There are a few problems with this approach....

- This type of thinking is entirely RESULTS based, not PROCESS based. Athletes focused on a specific pace when they start the run, put their confidence in jeopardy if they don't hit that pace. They will judge their race in that moment. Just because your legs don't give you a pace you HOPE for right away, doesn't mean you can't get it, or that you still can't run well.

- If you've ever done an Ironman, you know there are peaks and valleys of performance and how you feel. Athletes must focus on being smooth and running easy early, seeing what the body gives them, not forcing it.

- Remember, conditions can affect pacing as much as anything. Cool climates, and you can run faster. Hot climates, and you will likely run slower. 

- Pacing on the bike must be executed correctly in order to have a good run. So much of your run success begins before you ever take the first step on the run course.

- Nutrition on the bike must be executed correctly in order to have a good run. So much of your run success begins before you ever take the first step on the run course. (Yes, that is the same sentence). But there is no nutritional plan that will make up for poor bike pacing for your run success.

- When athletes start their long runs in training, they rarely focus or care about what the first mile or two of the run will be paced at. They are just getting started and realize there is a lot of running to do. The same approach should happen for athletes when coming off the bike.

- Many faster athletes might think this makes sense for mid to back-of-the-packers, but not for elites or top age groupers. But actually, what tends to happen is those faster athletes are already running fairly quickly off the bike, even running relatively easy. Think about it, athletes who have a threshold pace of sub 6 mins, are easily running 7 min pace off the bike, with hardly any effort. Point? Don't rush the pace the first few miles, it will happen on its own.

- Recent studying I have done of paces for the first mile off the bike for pro men and women in Kona shows that if you run the first mile faster than 20 secs faster than the average pace you hope to REALISTICALLY run, you are likely going to pay the price. This is for the faster people, where it is especially difficult to run faster, but extrapolate it out and that means about 5% for the age grouper. Point? Don't be faster for the first mile than 5% of the average pace you realistically hope to run for the marathon, or you're committing a race suicide.

- When athletes run a marathon fresh, they can handle a little aggressive pacing early, but will still pay the price eventually if they do it too much. Now think about the difference when an athlete starts a marathon in an Ironman? They have very little reserve or leeway for early aggressive pacing, given the deficit they begin the marathon with. Add in hot and humid conditions, (like a majority of Ironman marathons are raced in), and you begin to see the need to be the best pacer in the race, to maximize potential. 

Stop focusing on the pace, and more on executing good pacing!

Coach Vance

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

You Can't Control the Conditions, But...

You can't control the conditions of a race or event, but you can plan for them. If you plan for it, you control it enough for your performance.

Stop worrying about your race and the result, and start preparing for it. You control the result a lot more than you give yourself credit for. Take control, prepare well.

Coach Vance

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Shortcut to Success?

There is a common saying, "There is no shortcut to success." Which basically means you have to do the work to get to the point you're seeking. But we live in a time where plenty of people work very hard, and even the smallest shortcut can mean the difference between success and failure, so all means of finding that smallest shortcut here and there are being exhausted. We see it a lot in triathlon and training.

Here's the truth, if your hard work is not the issue, (meaning your commitment is truly there), there is definitely a shortcut to success, it's your plan. If the work is there, having the right plan maximizes that work. That is the shortcut for this day and age. Have a plan specific for you, and your needs, and you will find that as your shortcut to success.

The clock is ticking, don't waste time. If you don't have the shortcut, (plan), you're going to get left behind.

Coach Vance

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

"Forget illusions of balance..."

Saw this on a slide from Coach Jamie Turner, who is most well known as the coach of Gwen Jorgensen.

"Forget illusions of balance - it's about total commitment!!!"

This is often something athletes and coaches have a hard time with. They aren't willing to give up some of the luxuries in their lives, the things they perceive as the balance side of the triathlon equation. I know even myself as a coach, I can't train a squad in Europe and all over the globe, focusing on the ITU WTS series, because my wife and 3 yr old son are too important to me right now. This is why I started a junior program, where I could meet the commitment, and there is no issue with balance. Someday, I hope to make the next step and coach an ITU focused squad.

For some athletes, (from ITU elites to Ironman age-groupers), they can't totally commit because the risk is just too great, (job, finances, mortgage, family, etc.). But the problem is, without the risk, you can't achieve the reward. That reward is going to those who do totally commit.

Coach Vance

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A Training Day with Formula Endurance

Formula Endurance is my development program, a non-profit I started in 2010, focused mostly on the development of juniors, but also youth and collegiates, U25. In early 2014 we became the first and only program in the US to be both a USA Triathlon High Performance Program, and a USA Swimming Club, helping to maximize the support and opportunities for young athletes, especially as the NCAA Women's Triathlon opportunity grows. No swim club in the country can offer what we can for triathlon development, and no triathlon program offers the amount of support for swim development that we do. With the junior, elite and NCAA versions of the sport being draft-legal, the swim is a vital piece.

This past weekend, a volunteer cycling coach for our program, Nestor Rodriguez, (owner of Studeo DNA), did some filming of one of the triathlon workouts of the team. The team was doing a workout which is as race specific as it gets...

2 rounds of...
300 meter swim
7K draft-legal bike
800 meter run
(all with transitions)
10 min recovery between rounds, each round as hard as they can go.

Here's the footage of what it looked like...Enjoy!

 

Coach Vance

Friday, June 6, 2014

Webinars with Purple Patch Fitness & Matt Dixon

Over the past few months, I did a series of webinars with Coach Matt Dixon, for his Purple Patch Fitness athletes, (PPF), teaching them how to use their power meter to maximize the information from it. I felt honored to have a coach of Matt's stature ask me to help his athletes, as he greatly respects my ability to glean insight from training and racing data, and use that to help athletes become smarter and stronger. I have worked with Matt in his coaching of top pro's Meredith Kessler, Jessie Thomas and others. It was from what we learned about these athletes from the data that got him interested in me helping his age-groupers as well. This is your chance to see what they learned.

Here's more on these webinars...

Webinar #1 -  In this webinar, I share some power files from top PPF pro's, like Jesse Thomas and Emma-Kate Lidbury, as well as other athletes, to help athletes better understand their specificity for training/racing and how to better meet that specificity thru the use of their power meter. You can get the webinar here:  http://coachjimvance.bigcartel.com/product/purple-patch-fitness-webinar-1-training-with-power

Webinar #2 - In this webinar, I share some power files from top PPF pro's, like Jesse Thomas and Emma-Kate Lidbury, as well as other top Ironman pro triathletes, and explain the process how to plan and prepare to race, using your power meter and power data, as well as how to use the power to monitor and make intelligent racing decisions on the fly, as the race progresses. The race plan system I present is excellent for Olympic, 70.3 or full-Ironman distance races. This is probably the most important webinar for an athlete to learn how to effectively use your power meter to perform better. You can get it here:  http://coachjimvance.bigcartel.com/product/purple-patch-fitness-webinar-2-racing-with-power

Webinar #3 - This webinar teaches athletes how to use a power meter to better assess how their race went. With the power data, I discuss how to use the plan that was set, and compare that with what actually happened, in order to make changes for the future for training or preparation, as well as learn how to better execute a race. You can get it here: http://coachjimvance.bigcartel.com/product/purple-patch-fitness-webinar-3-race-analysis

There will be a 4th webinar soon, so stay tuned!

Coach Vance

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Boutique-Style Mentality

Thursday, May 1, 2014

It's not about what you did, it's about what you're doing...

Recently, I was at the pool at UC-San Diego, doing final preps before starting practice for the University City High School swimming programs, and an elderly female asked me about my swimming background. The conversation went something like this...

Her: "So did you swim here at UC-San Diego?"
Me: "No, I didn't swim in college. I ran track and cross country at the University of Nebraska."
Her: "Did you swim in high school?"
Me: "No, I was too busy with track and cross country."
Her: "So how can you coach swimming?"
Me: "I learned it. I know the technical aspects, and I understand training stimulus, specificity and periodization, how to read athletes, follow data to see how to adjust the stimulus."
Her: "But you never swam?"
Me: "I swam for years as an adult, ma'am, training for triathlons."
Her: "But how can you coach swimming if you never competed in swimming?"

There is an old school belief that if you didn't come from the sport at a young age, and grow to be some elite athlete at it, you can't know how to coach it. When I was a youngster, I was learning, but I wasn't learning at the rate I have been as an adult. I know what it is like to compete at a high level in many different sports, from running to cycling to triathlon. I know what it is like to suffer through a large training load, and commit to high goals. I have been mentored by some of the top coaches and athletes in all of endurance sports, from Peter Reid, Greg Welch, Joe Friel, Bobby McGee, Gerry Rodrigues, Mike Holman, Bob Seebohar, Cliff English and many more.

I coached the Elite Women's National Winter Tri Champion a few years ago, and I have never cross-country skied or snow-shoed a day in my life. But I understand training stress, specificity and how to monitor for those two to match.

It's not about what I did as a kid, it's about what I know as an adult. It's actually an advantage, I believe, (and I was also told this once by Gerry Rodrigues), that I didn't come from the background of a swimmer, because I see the world of swimming differently than those who did. I come with a different skill set, and I'm not stuck in old school beliefs like the woman had.

So far the girls swim team at UC High is enjoying probably it's best season ever, undefeated and just clinched the Eastern League Championship this week, which is only it's 3rd since 1992. We've had one school record broken twice, (100 freestyle in 56.31 and 55.80), and there very well may be more records to come. The boys have a ways to go, they mostly swim as water polo supplement training, but the improvement is clear so far.

I took the UC High swim coach job because I was confident I could apply the principles I've learned about training effect, specificity and periodization, and apply them to swimming as a single sport. Would I be perfect and make all the right decisions? No, but that's a standard no coach can meet in any sport or at any level. But you only get better with experience, and training decisions seem to be easier once you have that experience to draw on. I challenged myself with swimming, and it seems I had good reason to be confident.

I was confident because it's not about I did as a kid or in the past at all, it's about what I'm doing right now. As an athlete, you should have the same confidence, especially if you're using your experience to draw from.

Good luck.

Coach Vance

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Stop It! - 16 Things You Likely Do and Need to Stop

1. Stop ignoring recovery. What you eat, how much you sleep, the beers, it all affects you. The intensity you go on easy workouts is also vital.

2. Stop doing everyone else's workouts, and start focusing on what workouts YOU need. Sometimes, (in fact many times), that means you need to train alone. Peer pressure is no way to train effectively. If you train with a lot of egos, let them go. Limit group workouts to those which are in line with your goals and specific needs. This especially includes recovery workouts. (See #1).

3. Stop sabotaging your training. When life gets stressful, skipping workouts because you're not in the mood only brings about more stress and frustration with training and lack of results. Training is your escape, keep it that way. Skipping that transition run because you think you're too tired, is a missed opportunity to build confidence with a great run, or to learn to better pace your bike.

4. Stop ignoring your weight. If you aren't thin, you aren't as fast as you can be. I'm not saying you should look anorexic, but to think those 10 lbs you could lose aren't affecting your performance, is ignoring the obvious. If you're 20+lbs over an ideal race weight, there is no training plan or lightweight bike that can overcome that handicap. The weight also means higher risk for injuries, which can sabotage your training. (See #3).

5. Stop ignoring your diet. (See #1 and #4).

6. Stop obsessing about volume. If it really mattered, the athlete who did the most volume would win every race. Ultraman competitors would be the best Ironman and sprint racers. It's about the quality of training you can do. You're not training for the Tour de France.

7. Stop ignoring the swim. The higher your goals, the more it matters.

8. Stop ignoring your warm-ups for your workouts and races. The older you are, and the higher your goals, the more it matters. It's like sabotage. (See #3)

9. Stop ignoring your cool-down sets, they are vital to proper recovery. (See #1) Poor recovery sabotages training and racing. (See #3).

10. Stop ignoring technology in your training. You use technology in every aspect of your life, from your iPhone/Android to your laptop and software at your job or at home. Why is it so hard to believe power and pace data can help your training and racing on a daily basis? (See #3).

11. Stop thinking you need a faster/newer/better bike. You need to get training right. (See #1 thru #10).

12. Stop paying a coach if you're not going to do the training as they write it. (See #3)

13. Stop being negative with yourself. There is nothing anyone or any coach can tell you that will supersede what you say to yourself. If you don't believe in yourself when you toe that start line, the result is pretty much already determined.

14. Stop focusing on the competition, and start focusing on yourself, and how to execute your training and racing better. (See #1 thru #13)

15. Stop doing the same thing over and over. The body responds best to variance in training. If you've been doing the same things over and over for years, and aren't happy with the results, or notice a plateau, it's time to address the real issue.

16. Stop thinking salt and electrolyte losses cause cramps, there's no scientific proof of this. The people who promote this are the ones trying to sell it to you. Get fitter, and you'll cramp less. Get training right, you'll get fitter. Stop shoving so much salt into your gut during races, and you'll likely get rid of all that GI distress you've been bothered by in races.

Bonus tip...
17. Stop thinking Ironman is the only important race in triathlon. It's far from it.

Coach Vance