4 Thoughts for Off Season Training by Coach Spartacus – Brian Patterson – TriCoachGeorgia

Most of us are in the off season. There may be a 5k, 10k, MTB, cross race or the like out there but the triathlon race season is essentially over until 2016 which makes this a great time to focus on enlarging the aerobic engine through base (zone 2) training and muscular strength development. The coaches, athletes and team members of Tri Coach Georgia will also be competing in the USAT National Challenge Competition to defend our Division IV title and also as a means to focus our base training to ready us for 2016! Consider joining an NCC team to build your base!!

This post will be the first in a series of thoughts about how to approach your off season.  Below is an outline of what’s to come.

The next post is very specific to base training. You don’t want to miss finding your zone.

4 Thoughts for Off Season Training


  1. Find your zone

    • Lab test
    • Field test
    • Mathematical calculation
  2. Train in zone 2 at a minimum of twice a week

    • Boring training, reality check
    • Huge aerobic benefit
    • Train for the correct length of time
  3. Strength train to improve weaknesses and imbalances

    • Shoulder girdle
    • Pelvic girdle
    • Core
  4. NCC – commit a month to swim, a month to bike and a month to run

    • NCC swim – December
    • NCC bike – January
    • NCC run – February

Bike Marshal Observations That Can Save Your Race by Coach TaxSlayer – TriCoachGeorgia

On Saturday November 7th, I attended Ironman Florida to cheer and support several team members racing. I have attended two full Ironman races in the past, but this race introduced me to a new way to watch the bike portion of the race as a course marshal. On Friday, I attended a meeting discussing the rules of racing and how to enforce them during the race. Each course marshal rides on the back of a motorcycle and does his/her best to keep the race fair and everyone safe while on the course. Each marshal was given a book to write down penalties of athletes that were trying to gain an unfair advantage or were not being safe. The book contained a yellow card for minor penalties and a blue card for major penalties. The major penalties include drafting and littering. I wanted to write this blog to tell everyone what I saw on the course.

Top 8 Ironman Bike Race Tips that Can Save Your Race

  1. Drafting is problem.

    Do your best to keep your distance and pass in the allotted time or you risk receiving a penalty if you are viewed doing one of these things. The majority of the penalties given out during the race were for drafting.

  2. Do not block other racers around you.

    Sometimes you feel as though you are riding faster than the rider ahead of you and start to make a pass and realize you are not faster. Other riders behind you may be trying to pass you and it can create an unsafe situation if you stay outside and block the people behind you.

  3. Be careful when throwing water bottles and other trash in aid stations.

    I noticed several volunteers get hit by water bottles thrown at them. I understand that no one did this on purpose, but be careful.

  4. Learn how to take a water bottle from someone standing still before race day.

    It is dangerous to you and others around you if you drop the bottle. The more practice you before the race the more likely you are to have success grabbing it during the race.

  5. Do not take outside assistance.

    I knew people took outside assistance on the run, but I did not realize how many people took outside assistance on the bike. All racers know, or should know, that outside assistance is an automatic disqualification. Plan your day accordingly and you will not need the help.

  6. Carry tubes, co2, patching kits etc.

    I noticed several people that did not have the tools necessary to fix a flat.

  7. Practice changing a flat.

    The more times you practice the easier it will be on race day. You may not flat, but being able to change a flat quickly will benefit you during your race.

  8. Be careful.

    I noticed several racers who were not being safe with the way they were riding. No reason to be in such a hurry to be unsafe. These are a few of my thoughts from my day on the back of a motorcycle. It was very satisfying knowing that the course marshals made a difference in helping to keep the race safe and fair. I look forward to volunteering in this capacity again in the future.

Not the Offseason Essentials by Coach LongMan – TriCoachGeorgia

Going To The Dogs

November and December of each year is my traditional off season from any sort of regular, planned, and fretted-over athletic events or training. Being in the northern hemisphere, this fits the annual cycle of cooler weather, family requirements, less daylight, year-end work deadlines, and many holidays.

2015 is unique because I have already spent the five weeks since Ironman 70.3 Augusta rehabbing injuries suffered in the last part of the triathlon season. My rehabilitation from lower leg and deltoid muscle strains has forced me to abandon basically all physical activity except easy yoga and walking the dogs. There are definitely lessons to be learned before the 2016 season; and I am exploring them now.

So what is my exact November checklist?

Rest and recovery while staying active: As mentioned above, this is time to stop stressing and start healing. Lots of folks like to cross train with mountain biking, hiking, basketball, whatever. I like to walk Ellie at the park; she likes it too.

Pay attention to others: Endurance athletics is a deeply personal and selfish endeavor. Now is the time to NOT BE THAT GUY. My wife and kids really like this time of year. So does Brook.

Plan your 2016 season: Most of us are goal oriented and are helped along this process by signing up for races. Time to get that done. Sit down with the support team (aka family and coach) and figure out what are the athletic priorities for your upcoming season. Break out the credit card and sign up for one or two “A” races. Now you can brag to your family around the Thanksgiving table about how you are going to qualify for Kona at IM Texas. Sir Syrus (or uncle Bob) will question your sanity.

Get professional help: Every one of us can benefit from the expertise and opinions of others. Besides spending a lot of time with my chiropractor, massage therapist, and PT this fall, I also plan to get a bike fitting from Micah at Georgia CycleSport (it has been two years), join a master’s swimming class (thank you for insisting, Coach BigBad), and have a running stride analysis from Jimbo Woods at Horizon Physical Therapy. Merry Christmas to me, and, hopefully, a happier New Year.

Upgrade equipment and techniques: How many folks go to their A race, buy a hot new pair of running shoes at the expo, and suffer mightily the following day? Now is the time of year to plan, buy, or try new stuff like nutrition protocols, gear, transition set up, et cetera. Blueberry (and your feet) will thank you.

Coaching: Whether you have a coach or you coach yourself, this is the time of year to be coached. Review everything about 2015: equipment, training, races, results, travel, injuries… all of it. What have you learned? What will you do more of or less of? What are your strengths and weaknesses? How can you improve? Do you need help and from who? How will you achieve the goals you have set for 2016 while remaining sane, staying gainfully employed, and, most importantly, loved by your family?

This is a great time of year and I hope you make full use of it. Cheers! And feel free to scratch Galileo on your way out.

So You Want to Kona Qualify?: Slayer’s Top Ten Tips – Ironman World Championship – TriCoachGeorgia


In case you haven’t been on social media in the last couple weeks and perchance missed it, a hard working, regular guy nicknamed the Illustrious Coach Slayer aka me or Harvey Gayer qualified for the 2016 Ironman World Championship at Kona, Hawaii. I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of congratulations, privately and publicly. Getting the slot is described as “insanely difficult” and this article shows how “each year, more than 80,000 athletes vie for slots to the IRONMAN World Championship at the (limited number of world-wide) qualifying IRONMAN events worldwide—while only approximately 2,000 make it to the starting line on race day.”

I was going to write up a race report from my 2015 Ironman Maryland, but there isn’t much to it. It was the race that all who do Ironman dream about. Everything simply went right on that cold and windy day, so there isn’t much to really say about it.

I have decided to write up the top 10 factors that I think put me in a position to finally reap the benefits of all the hours I had sown. I’ve been in disbelief as this was a dream that I thought would never be realized, especially after my bad armadillo-caused bike wreck in April 2015 and subsequent time off for DVT’s in my leg. Now that the goal has been achieved, I have been trying to figure out how I did it, in hopes it helps someone else.

Here is my list:

Top 10 Ways Slayer Qualified for Kona Ironman Championship

  • 1. A Super Support Network

    – From immediate and extended family, to friends and training partners, to my coach and team and to subsets of the team (i.e., the lardasses weight management group), the shops like Georgia Cycle Sports (GCS), All3Sports.com, and Fleet Feet Athens, the affiliates like Generation Ucan, my support system was crucial. Without that, everything else would have failed. Cultivating these relationships, building and maintaining them, was very important to my success.

  • 2. Make Time to Train and Race

    – A recent blog by Alan Couzens suggested one needed to train 18-24 hours per week to qualify in most cases. Moreover, he concludes one must love to train not just tolerate it. I had to shorten my work week which was with my wife’s permission to 3.5 days so that I could get in an additional big training day weekly when my body could handle it. These extra hours not at work allowed me to get more miles and yards in and that helped me to be ready for the demands of the day.

  • 3a. Experience/Confidence/Wisdom

    – Couzens also saw this as a multi year process. For me it was the culmination of about eight years in the sport. I had my share of good races but I learned more from the bad ones. Each bad race informed me about what mistakes not to make the next time. I thought about each big mistake on the way to, and during, my big day at IMMD. I made adjustments in the lead up and all day long to avoid those from recurring. Also, I learned a lot from my fellow coaches and athletes at TriCoachGeorgia.com who are pretty knowledgeable and experienced in their own right.

  • 3b. Knowledge

    – So much information flows on social media, popular media, and the books in the field. Everyone has ideas, some better than others, about what makes a successful race. This makes me think back to the phrase, “check the source.” You really have to learn to sift through all the information and take on board the tips that will help you the most. For me, Seebohar’s caffeine protocol and Metabolic Efficiency Training, Generation Ucan fueling strategies, bike power training seminars and discussions with my fellow power mavens, and higher volume and lower intensity run build methods, were key. I also took a lot out of my time in the A2 wind tunnel with my Master bike fitter from GCS, Micah Morlock, and my former coach and current coaching consultant Andrew Shanks.

  • 4. Motivation/Commitment

    – You have to be closely in tune with what makes you tick. For some it is to improve, others to impress, and some to compete, which I lean on the most. Some are combination of all these in varying degrees. I’ve written before about how some view competitiveness as bad; however, I see it as very healthy and motivating provided you use it in a positive way to drive you and your rival(s) to higher heights.

  • 5. Race Selection

    – Although the course in Maryland isn’t ideal for me (in that it is ranked a hard swim), it was wetsuit legal, which helped my buoyancy, and the late placement in the year allowed for some possibility of swim alteration. It allowed for cold and wind, which suited a bigger guy like me. Moreover, in my case, while the swim wasn’t cancelled, it was shortened to around 3100 yards from 4224 yards. This was nice because at last year’s IMMD I swam 2.7 miles when it was supposed to be 2.4 miles. Maybe it sort of equaled out.

  • 6. A Bit of Luck

    – You need to be blessed with no serious obstacles on the way to the big day and during the race itself. Some race builds I am plagued with high work stress, family demands, and/or lots of work interruptions. Some races I have dealt with mechanical issues, poor decisions in gear, flat tires, and the like. In this one, the build and the race went pretty smooth overall. In fact, the wreck actually served to my advantage in that I was given time to rest after a huge Winter build for the USAT’s NCC Challenge. I was able to rest up for the massive ramp up for the race. Then the postponement offered me extra time to taper and freshen up into form. All of this was probably a bit of good luck.

  • 7. Good Health

    – This pretty much is self-explanatory and goes for the build and the race day.

  • 8. Positive Mental Attitude (PMA)

    – More so than any prior build or race, I just got on with things. If a bad session happened in that I bonked, went too hard or went too easy, I just got over it. When the race postponed, I called it a bad day and moved on. I went back to work for several days as if it would be rescheduled. If something didn’t feel right, I listened to my body, not my training schedule and took a day off. I just went with the flow and that continued to race day itself when they shortened then lengthened the swim while we awaited the start.

  • 9. Willingness to Sell My Body Out on Race Day

    – More than any other endurance race in my life, I just gave up any thoughts of preserving my body. I wanted to get to the finish line giving it all I had with no quit whatsoever. There was to be NO MAMBY PAMBY on this day. When I tired, I berated myself to keep going. I took more caffeine than I ever had and ate more pain than I ever had. I refused to give into the doubts and the mentally challenging  aspects. And I was duly rewarded at the end.

  • 10. Sufficient Income

    – Ironman is a pricey endeavor. From the race registration, to the travel, to the lodging, to the gear, etc. Not to mention, when the race was over, I had to plunk down the better part of 900$ for the race registration for Kona. You have to make it to spend it. I am very fortunate to be able to play this game in the manner it demands. I do not take that for granted.

So there you have it. These are my 10 factors in no particular order that seemed to propel me further and better than I have ever done. I am interested on your thoughts on these and if you think I am leaving anything out. Thanks again for reading and holler if you have something you want me to write about as I chase this dream to its conclusion!

Finishing Up the First Tri Kids Georgia Race Season – TriCoachGeorgia

Our last weekend of the youth triathlon season kept us very busy with two races back to back. Saturday, October 10 was the Five Star Triathlon Championship. Many of our athletes qualified at various races through the season. They did add an open division as well which allowed some of our newer athletes to compete on this day as well. The race was held in Clarkesville, GA in an indoor pool with challenging bike and run on the hills of Northeast Georgia. We are proud of all our racers – Simon Casey, Jenna Champer, Carter Fowler, Caiden Fowler, Freeman Chamblee and Jack Chamblee.

Some of our TriKids were also competing in the GA Milesplit Cross Country 3K Challenge at Athens Christian on October 10th. Caroline Duncan and Ellie Gayer brought home impressive finishes on a rainy, muddy course helping their team, Malcom Bridge Middle School, to a 2nd place finish.

The rescheduled Senior Division race of the Atlanta Kids Triathlon took place on Sunday, October 11th. Even with the date change, we had a great group of athletes ready to compete. It is much different racing in October instead of August, but these kids did not let a little chill stop them. The XClass division raced first with Caroline Duncan, Addie Hayes, Jack Hayes Jenna Champer and Keaton Tsepas Buccier. The age group race followed with Emma Champer, Lindley Hawks and Carter Fowler. As always, the Atlanta Kids Tri brings tough competition from around Atlanta and the Southeast and our TriKids brought home great results.

Many of our kids are well rounded competing in football, soccer, horseback riding and dance when they are racing in triathlons. We are looking forward to some great off season training filling in our racing gaps with local 5K races and year round swim meets.