Find Your Zone and 3 Ways to Do It by Coach Spartacus – Brian Patterson – TriCoachGeorgia

In my last blog I listed four thoughts to off season training. Today, I explain how you determine your heart rate training zones using a lab, a field test or just a little basic arithmetic.


You may be finding this article at the end of your triathlon season having trained all year without knowing your zones, you may know your zones or you may be brand new to zone based training. This article and the articles to follow apply to each of you as we are in the time of year that a large portion of your training should be focused on training in zone 2. I will explain why in my next article. For now, let’s find your zone!

Before I get into ways to find your training zones, some terminology needs to be reviewed so we are all in agreement.

VO2 max – VO2 is an abbreviation for volume of oxygen. What it means to a physiologist, to you and to me (a coach) is it’s the volume or amount of oxygen a person/athlete can use during a minute of activity/work. Endurance athletes produce energy using oxygen, and as intensity increases, the need for oxygen increases. There is an end point, a maximum, and this where energy production stops despite higher intensities because oxygen use is limited by the heart’s blood pumping ability. When your max heart rate is reached you also are at your highest level of oxygen consumption. To keep it simple for training zone determination let’s agree that VO2 max means maximum heart rate. The VO2 max is largely a fixed number based on genetics and cannot be increased very much through training.

Lactate Threshold – You may see this abbreviated as LT, AT, AnT or VT. This is also called anaerobic threshold or ventilatory threshold. When the body is making energy aerobically (using oxygen)during endurance training/racing the lactic acid produced inside the cell is converted to carbon dioxide and is removed through exhalation. This “threshold” is the point where the heart can’t pump enough blood to the lungs so the athlete can’t blow off the accumulating acid, carbon dioxide. This is the red line of endurance training and racing because aerobic energy production is switched to anaerobic energy production. Anaerobic energy production is less efficient and produces a lot of waste that is hard to metabolize so we want to be just below this threshold because going over it increases fatigue very rapidly. Unlike VO2 max, Anaerobic/ventilatory threshold can be increased with proper training.

Aerobic Threshold – If VO2 max is the pedal to the metal all out efforts and LT is slightly harder than a moderate effort, then the aerobic threshold, AeT, is a relatively low intensity level of training. This is zone 2 and the garage where BIG aerobic engines are built! Technically, this is the point where lactic acid is beginning to accumulate and you notice your breathing becomes a little deeper and maybe just two or three breaths more per minute. You will also notice an increase in body temperature and maybe a light sweat on your skin. When you notice this, hold that effort and stay there for the prescribed time. This is also the zone where metabolic efficiency training begins and that discussion is for another time.


Lab based testing for determining heart rate zones


Lab testing to determine your VO2 max, aerobic and anaerobic thresholds is done with a metabolic cart and can be done for running and cycling. This involves wearing a very tight fitting mask connected to a device that measures the volume of oxygen and carbon dioxide in your breaths and your heart rate through either a chest strap or electrodes. A computer program displays graphs of heart rate and ratios of oxygen (O2) and carbon dioxide (CO2) which represents metabolic activity. Heart rate is matched to changes in the ratios of O2 and CO2 and this is how your aerobic and anaerobic threshold zones are determined. Your VO2 max is determined at the point one reaches exhaustion. Once the heart rate thresholds and VO2 max are determined, these can be further distributed into zones 1 ‐ 5 or more depending on the different method of calculations such as the Friel method, the Coggan method or the Karvonen method etc.

Some labs measure blood lactate by analyzing drops of blood taken at intervals during the testing session. The blood lactate values are charted and compared to heart rates to establish the thresholds. Blood lactate measurement can be done conjunction with the metabolic cart or using a handheld device that analyzes the blood without the metabolic cart. Both provide nearly the same result.


Field based testing for determining heart rate zones


As mentioned above, there are handheld blood lactate analyzers that can be used outside of a lab to measure blood lactate to determine the anaerobic threshold. The aerobic threshold can also be closely approximated using the results and comparing the perceived exertion and ventilatory rate of the athlete. Once again the VO2 max , this time max heart rate, is determined at the point one reaches exhaustion.

An even simpler way to get an approximate anaerobic threshold is to do a 30 minute time trial.

This can be done for either cycling or running and can be done indoors or outdoors. If done outdoors, it is important to pick a route that is easily repeated and free from obstacles that could inhibit a nonstop 30 minute effort. All that is needed to perform this test is a heart rate monitor and stopwatch. To obtain threshold paces, one will need to use a gps enabled device for timing. Perform the test as follows:

Warm up 10‐15 minutes to get the heart above resting and the feeling of a light sweat then recover until the breathing returns to normal. Press start on the timing device and begin the test by running or cycling at as hard an effort as one can sustain for 30 minutes. Do not start out so fast that the effort cannot be maintained for 30 minutes. At the 10 minute mark, press the lap button and continue to run or ride until 30 minutes is reached. At 30 minutes, press the stop button. Review the data file and analyze the “lap” you created at the 10 minute mark. Take your average heart rate for that 20 min effort and that is roughly your anaerobic threshold. If this was a running test, look at the whole 30 minute data file and determine your average pace for the 30 min. This average pace is the threshold pace and one can set training zones using pace just like heart rate. These thresholds will become more accurate as one performs subsequent tests and learns pacing.

This same field test can also be used to determined one’s cycling functional threshold power if a power meter is used during the test.

A swim test to determine your anaerobic threshold is also possible. Because most heart rate monitors do not work in the water, the swim test is a fixed distance time trial to determine your average 100 yard/meter pace. I will use yards and meters interchangeably in the article. There are several tests one can use determine threshold swim pace or Tpace. Here are two that are frequently used:

Warm up with 10 minutes of swimming to include drills, kicking and a few short, hard 25’s or 50’s. Cool down so your breathing returns to normal.

Option 1 ‐ 1000 time trial ‐ Have someone time you and keep up with your distance so you can focus on swimming as hard as possible and not try to remember your lap counts or waste time looking at your lap counter on your wrist or finger. When the person timing you tells you to begin, swim as hard as you can for the entire 1000. Don’t start out too fast so that you have to slow or stop to recover mid test. The person timing you will stop you at the 1000 mark when they stop the timer. To determine your Tpace, take the total time for the 1000 and divide by 100. This will give you your average pace per 100.

Option 2 ‐ 3 x 300 on :30 rest interval time trial or 3 x 100 on :20 rest interval time trial ‐ These can be used if a 1000 straight swim is not yet possible due to a lack of swim fitness. Warm up as above then swim the intervals as fast as possible keeping in mind not go out so fast that the distance cannot be completed. It is best if all three intervals are within five seconds of one another and this may require adding a fourth interval. Sometimes the first interval is considerable faster than the subsequent intervals. Adding a fourth will allow dropping the first faster interval with leaving three intervals to average. Tpace is determined by averaging three intervals times. if using the 100 distance, average the three times to determine Tpace. If using the 300 distance, average the three intervals times and divide that time by three to get your 100 Tpace.


Arithmetic calculation for determining zones


There are many methods to mathematically calculate heart rate training zones. The focus of this series of articles is off season training and base or zone 2 training so I will explain one simple way to calculate your zone 2 that may be very close to your lab determined zone 2. This mathematical calculation was developed by Phil Maffetone and it is simply subtracting your age from 180 and further subtracting or adding five or ten points based on illnesses or fitness.

Since this article is most likely reaching folks with a bit of athleticism and fitness, let’s simplify the calculation by subtracting one’s age from 180 then further subtracting 5 to give a low end and adding five to give a high end. This will give a range of heart rates for the calculated zone 2.

Using a 35 year old as an example , the zone would be 180‐35=145. Subtract another 5, 145‐5= 140 and add another 5, 145+5=150 so the calculated zone 2 range is 140‐150. To learn more about the Maffetone method, visit here. To help guide your zone calculations, here is a chart for plotting your zones. Keep in mind cycling heart rate can be ten beats less than running due to the decreased physical effort cycling demands.

Heart Rate Zones for running and cycling

Running Zones

Zone 1 Less than 85% of LTHR
Zone 2 85% to 89% of LTHR
Zone 3 90% to 94% of LTHR
Zone 4 95% to 99% of LTHR
Zone 5a 100% to 102% of LTHR
Zone 5b 103% to 106% of LTHR
Zone 5c More than 106% of LTHR

Your Zones

less than_____
_____ ‐ _____
_____ ‐ _____
_____ ‐ _____
_____ ‐ _____
_____ ‐ _____
greater than_____

Cycling Zones

Zone 1 Less than 81% of LTHR
Zone 2 81% to 89% of LTHR
Zone 3 90% to 93% of LTHR
Zone 4 94% to 99% of LTHR
Zone 5a 100% to 102% of LTHR
Zone 5b 103% to 106% of LTHR
Zone 5c More than 106% of LTHR

Your Zones

less than_____
_____ ‐ _____
_____ ‐ _____
_____ ‐ _____
_____ ‐ _____
_____ ‐ _____
greater than_____

Power Zones for Cycling

Zone 1 Less than 55% of FTPw
Zone 2 55% to 74% of FTPw
Zone 3 75% to 89% of FTPw
Zone 4 90% to 104% of FTPw
Zone 5 105% to 120% of FTPw
Zone 6 More than 120% of FTPw


Swim zones use Tpace plus or minus seconds of time. Tpace can also be thought of as race pace so your training sessions may be built around Tpace plus 5, 10 or even 15 seconds which is a slower effort or Tpace minus 5 or 10 seconds which would be fast sprint sets.

To summarize, there are many ways to determine heart rate training zones from the gold standard, elaborate lab tests to simple mathematical calculations. If you know your zones, great! Get to training in zone 2. If you don’t know your zones, you now have the means to get started identifying them. First and foremost, determine zone 2 and get training in it. My next article will discuss the advantages of zone 2 training.


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),, 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 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!

What I’ve Learned and Applied from Coach Slayer – TriCoachGeorgia

A Triathlon Coach Amongst Triathlon Coaches

At, we are very honored to be the coach of coaches and great athletes. One of them is Coach Cube aka Fred Mehrer of Coach Cube is one of Coach Slayer’s star athletes and he wanted to explain why a coach needs a coach and what he learned from his coaches over the years. He has a great track record coaching his athletes too. Read below:

Coaches and Coaching 

I first met Coach Slayer at a race when I was still living and racing in Georgia. Friends said, “you’ve got to meet this guy, he’s nuts”! First, he was killing everyone in the heavy man’s Clydesdale division, and second, his podium antics were something to see. He would smash a water bottle and scare everyone around with a roar!

Honestly, I didn’t know how to take him at first. I mean, he was a hell of an athlete and a great transformation success story. Finding the motivation to do what he has done in his athletic career is amazing. But, from a distance, he’s a little unorthodox and somewhat intimidating.  He’s big, he’s loud and he’s FAST!

However, once we talked, we found we had a common thread. We’re both from the Philly area and both have an unstoppable internal drive.

What Happened Next 

I remember one of the first races we did together (Mistletoe Sprint Triathlon), we shared a room the night before. I was trying to be the perfect athlete, eating good and going to sleep early. He ate a sandwich from Arby’s, drank 4-5 Budweiser Light Limes, and talked til midnight! That was not on my race plan.

On the run the next day, I could hear him coming up on me yelling, “Don’t get Slayed, Cube!”. He took me out in the last mile and finished about 1:30 ahead of me, all while out weighing me by a good 50 lbs!. What this told me was that maybe not everything you read is the best way to go about things. I have learned to appreciate the nuances and unorthodox nature of training and racing that have helped him to excel as well as helping me in my own right as an athlete and coach.

Time for a Change

Over the years Coach Slayer and I have become closer friends and when it was time for a coaching change in 2013, he was at the top of my list of coaches to interview. I saw his athletes’ positive results piling in and he kept improving. There was a culture of communication and social support developing and he was in the forefront.

I wanted something totally different from my last coach. I wanted a coach with kids and someone who was more “hands on” and who is a good communicator. It was important for me to feel I was getting good value for the money I was paying. More than plans, I wanted a personal touch, I wanted a connection. I am not too needy but I like to feel recognized and valued. I understand how athletes’ minds operate.

How it Impacted Me

Right from starting with “Slay”, things took off. He renewed my passion for the sport, while at the same time, teaching me there is more to life then Triathlon and that family is a huge priority and should be highly valued. I was recently re-married and had moved to Palm Beach, started commuting to Atlanta for work and now had step kids. My single days (all about me) were over and at times I found, and still find, it hard to juggle everything on my plate.

Coach Slayer knew how to make training fun again without the stress my previous plans put on me about completing a workout or taking time off for family. In return my results soared. I finished 2013 with four podiums and a PR at Ironman Miami 70.3 going 4:51.

I went on to be a Coach

Most coaches wouldn’t want you taking their secrets or methods and competing against them. In late 2013, Coach Slayer actually did the opposite. He encouraged me to become a coach and start This is a stand alone firm and I am growing my brand carefully and using the principles he has shared with me in terms of not just training but also managing time and prioritizing. I work hard to put my family first now. It’s not easy, but it’s right.


I work everyday to apply the things I’ve learn from Coach Slayer, not only thru training, but in my coaching as well. I am a better man for working with him. I strive to do the same for my athletes.

There’s nothing better then an open line of communication with your coach. You need a dynamic process that evolves daily or weekly if you have a challenging family and/or work life. No matter what level program you’ve signed up for. I know I can call Coach Slayer for any reason, triathlon related or not. These are the things I value as an athlete and provide to my athletes everyday.

There are many great coaches out there. Find one that makes you a better athlete and person. Give me a call and let me discuss what I can offer you along these lines. Thanks Coach! Now let me go #FeelTheBurn!

Five Tips for Thriving During Your Ironman or Ironman 70.3 Build‏ (Thanks Karl!) – TriCoachGeorgia


We have some stellar, well experienced, and consistent athletes who strive hard to improve their performance. They also go out of their way to help others.

Some of our athletes go on to be good coaches in their own right. Karl Langenbach aka LongMan and soon to be known as Coach LongMan is a great example of someone that has been a student of the game for a long time. He has helped many friends to achieve their goals and always seems to show up healthy and race well. He was kind enough to write a blog for us about some of his secrets to success.

How and When

It’s that time of the year: your “A” race is looming! For me, Augusta 70.3 is 2+ weeks away with Ironman Louisville close on its heels. CoachBigBad has been loading my wagon and I am exhausted physically and mentally. What am I doing to manage the stress? Here are my top five tips for coping and recovery:

5 Tips To Help You Crush Your Race


  • 1. Get more sleep.

    If you aren’t getting 7+ hours sleep each night; why not? Whenever possible, slip in a 20-30 minute nap; like on Saturday and Sunday afternoon between workouts and on weekdays if you happen to make it home for lunch. It is amazing how much more alert and refreshed, mentally & physically, I feel after a good night’s rest or a quick doze.

  • 2. Avoid sick people.

    Your immune system is taking a pounding and can’t cope with the normal assault of germs. Even a mild head cold can put a serious damper on your race. Wash your hands a lot. Stay out of your kid’s classroom. Shun your sneezing co-workers.

  • 3. Get a massage.

    Your body is likely a knotted mess; and you need to change that in order for it to work at peak performance levels on race day. Schedule hour-long massages ($45) three and one week out from your big race plus another one the week after. Also spend ten minutes each night foam-rolling your back, thighs, IT bands, and calves. This stretching helps me calm down for better rest and less aches in the morning.

  • 4. Drink more water and eat more veggies.

    Your body needs the best nutrition possible during this high stress period. Save the cake and beer for the after-race celebration.

  • 5. Practice active recovery.

    Nothing gets rid of lingering soreness and speeds healing like easy movement. After you have done your icing and hydration, get off the couch and take the kids to the park or walk the dog. Don’t tempt yourself to do another workout. You are just try to get the blood and lymphatic fluids moving. This is also a great time to relax mentally, and pay some attention to your support team (aka your family!).

Try out these tips and let me know how they work for you. Good luck in your race.

Coach Slayer’s Top Triathlon Truths: How You Get Better Quicker! – TriCoachGeorgia


Many years ago Coach Slayer wrote a list for the website Georgia Forum about what he viewed as his opinions that were fortified by both experience and data. He thought it applied to the vast majority of endurance triathletes. As he started re-doing the list a few years later for this blog, he found that many of the items were still his thoughts even after several years coaching and more improvement as an athlete himself.

You may not agree with him on these, and he is willing to hear why, but he hopes they are helpful for many triathletes out there. Some range from obvious, to misunderstood, to complicated. Some are substantiated with research and others are just subjective rants. Without further adieu, here is:

Some of what I learned from Triathlon since I started:

Top 80 List of Triathlon Truths: How You Get Better Quicker!

  • 1. Taking performance enhancing drugs makes you a twat and a cheat.
  • 2. Cutting the course, drafting on purpose, or doing stupid stuff like pretending you didn’t DNF when you did also does.
  • 3. Racing lighter is better (and drinking light beer is better but less tasty).
  • 4. Eating lean protein, healthy fats, and heavy veggies keeps you light.
  • 5. Training heavier makes you faster especially if your race weight goes down.
  • 6. Burn fat as much as possible as your fuel source in endurance sports.
  • 7. Unless you are “all in”, go easy on sugar and stuff that metabolizes as such and get your carbs from healthy sources.
  • 8. Generation Ucan is a game changer for race day nutrition but you can do well with sugar if you frequently dose.
  • 9. Listen to your coach unless you like being injured.
  • 10. Don’t listen to your coach on race day if you feel really good.
  • 11. Tackle your weaknesses.
  • 12. Make lots of friends in lots of places.
  • 13. Do fun races.
  • 14. Don’t take yourself too serious.
  • 15. Give back to others.
  • 16. Youth triathletes like @FTKTri are better than adult triathletes to watch especially if you are a parent of one or more.
  • 17. For most of us, flip turns are hard to do.
  • 18. Test yourself in training but not daily.
  • 19. Recovery is more important the older you get.
  • 20. It is ok to have rivals if it is healthy competition.
  • 21. Have the best race you can on the day.
  • 22. Try not to set a time goal. Focus on getting done, having fun, and doing your job to the best of your ability.
  • 23. Use Glide or other lubes from heavily in areas that chafe.
  • 24. Figure out what shoes feel best and run in them. Rotate if multiple ones feel good.
  • 25. Blisters suck, really suck. Buy good socks (ask Swim Bike Mom about that one).
  • 26. Train with people that help you remain centered.
  • 27. Get out of your comfort zone on occasion at least.
  • 28. Coaching is a lot like therapy.
  • 29. Indoor training is much better than people give it credit. Many pro’s are training nearly exclusively indoors.
  • 30. Try to have at least one big race per year.
  • 31. Try not to let your self-worth ride on that big race.
  • 32. Have strong opinions about training but be willing to listen to other ones.
  • 33. Affiliate with good shops, manufacturers, clubs, and teams.
  • 34. Fit over everything else when buying a bike.
  • 35. Aero = faster than even weight loss.
  • 36. Comfortable stiff bike shoes are very important too.
  • 37. Dig deep on race day! Very deep. It’s ironman not pussyman.
  • 38. Over train for the distance your racing except in the case of Ironman running.
  • 39. Ironman is not the promised land but its close to it for many triathletes.
  • 40. 70.3 is the best distance for me and most of us who have busy lives but it’s not quite the pizzazz of 140.6 sadly.
  • 41. Make sure your family is on board with things as noted in the blog by Taz aka Wes Hargrove (HERE).
  • 42. If it hurts, don’t keep doing whatever your doing until you get it checked.
  • 43. If you can afford it, have great support people on your team including pedicurist, PTs, masseuses, strength trainers, etc.
  • 44. Static stretching and rolling are stupid although Thai massage, dynamic stretching, and yoga seemed to help so maybe that’s not fully true.
  • 45. The mental game is more important than you think. Some say the sport is 90% mental and 50% physical.
  • 46. More miles works for me to go faster but not always for others.
  • 47. Less miles probably need to be harder miles.
  • 48. More swim yards does not mean you will go faster.
  • 49. In the water, quality trumps quantity.
  • 50. It’s never too cold to swim until its too cold to swim.
  • 51. Closer races are easier to do than further races.
  • 52. The best race directors are ones that get you out of there asap.
  • 53. Some of the local and regional independent races are way better than WTC races but you can’t qualify for Worlds 70.3 and Kona there.
  • 54. Local races like Go Race Productions Georgia Triathlon Series, Tri the Parks, Setup Events, Georgia Multisports are perfect for what they are.
  • 55. Family and friends present at races makes them more enjoyable.
  • 56. Yelling and cheering at someone during a race does in fact make them go faster.
  • 57. Racing a lot is tough due to the sleep disruptions and logistics.
  • 58. Triathlon can be expensive but it’s a worthy investment.
  • 59. Short course races are painful but fun and over quick.
  • 60. Find ways to have the quickest transitions of your AG.
  • 61. Always carry Benadryl just in case.
  • 62. Just because they are selling something doesn’t mean you have to buy it.
  • 63. Have answers to questions you will ask yourself when things get very tough. Be prepared ahead to answer or write it on your arm in sharpie.
  • 64. Environmental conditions like heat/humidity, cold, wind, etc are things you have to learn to tolerate.
  • 65. L.A. Woman by the Doors is the best triathlon song ever (MOJO RISIN!!!) Maybe not, but it sure helped me out after a particularly bad race.
  • 66. You are not faster if you have a cool nickname, but it can’t hurt.

Some others passed along to me from the Georgia Forum

  • 67. Adjust race strategy for environmental conditions.
  • 68. A strong core will help to make you faster in all 3 disciplines.
  • 69. There is no such thing as a good bike followed by a bad run.
  • 70. Don’t change ANYTHING on the bike, except a flat tire or frayed cable, within a week before the race.
  • 71. If a race doesn’t quite fit the training or recovery schedule but sounds like fun, don’t necessarily skip it. Sure you may be not quite at top peak performance and the next race may suffer marginally, but in the big picture, the memories may be worth it.
  • 72. No excuses.  Accept the challenges as opportunities to learn and improve on for next time.
  • 73. An aluminum Tri bike without Zipp Wheels can go just as fast as the bling bling carbon machines.
  • 74. It’s perfectly acceptable to be a triathlete and be a short-course racer with limited or no aspirations for a HIM or Full distance.  Do what is right for you, not others.
  • 75. If you hold back, you won’t know your potential. It’s ok to blow up, see No excuses.
  • 76. Have your priorities straight. Seeing your kids pursue their passion trumps any kind of goal/workout you have for yourself.
  • 77. Group training is important. You can feed off the group energy.
  • 78. Bike handling skills that you learn in a group are important too.
  • 79. Money won’t buy you better race times; however, if buying a nice bike makes you ride more, then go for it.
  • 80.  Running shoes should feel good in the store. If you think they only feel “okay,” they’re not going to get better later.

There are many here and many more to be written. Do you disagree with any of these? Do they resonate with you? We at would love to hear back from you. We all learn from constructive discussions. Thanks for reading (and contributing if you did back in the day!) and best wishes for the rest of your race season!

10 Helpful Family Tips for Ironman Triathletes – TriCoachGeorgia

We are publishing a blog by one of our stellar athletes, Taz aka Wes Hargrove. Taz is the husband of Coach Kim Possible and the two of them are both doing Ironmen races this year. This has been a huge test of cooperation and planning skills.

#TeamHargrove has learned to make things work for their family despite demanding jobs and lives. They have two beautiful and active young daughters and extended family nearby.

Taz has been to the world championships at 70.3 in 2014 and was recently on the podium at Steelhead 70.3. He has competed 7 ironmans including Ironman Texas earlier this year and he is lined up for Ironman Augusta 70.3 and Ironman Florida later this year.

We think he makes great suggestions to help you navigate a truly challenging time period. Without further adieu, Taz will let you know some ways how to ensure less family strife, train to have a great race, and keep the peace at home.


Training for a full Ironman while my wife (Kim Possible) is training for one also, both working full time, and spending as much time with the family as possible can make for a bigger challenge than it sounds. Here are some tips to help ease the pain:

10 Helpful Family Tips for Ironman Triathletes

    • 1) Have a family meeting well before signing up for races and make sure that you are both committed to making it work. If there is disagreement, talk through it. Don’t force the issue.
    • 2) Always keep your family and career as top priorities. This means making time to spend with your wife and family that does not involve training like date nights and family vacations.
    • 3) Get a coach that can relate to the family life that you live; this will take all the thinking out of planning workouts and will help with racing as well.
    • 4) Plan out each week with morning and evening sessions and who has which each day (mix it up so one is not always up at 0400 to train). Offer your spot up when you feel fresher.
    • 5) Hold each other accountable and help eliminate excuses. Don’t be a drag or a downer, don’t hold grudges that can be quickly hashed out, and do be more of a cheerleader of sorts.
    • 6) Be the most supportive spouse that you can, and get your head right when you feel grumpy via smart choices like talking things over with close friends and your coach.
    • 7) Try to avoid doing long days on the same day (try one on Saturday and the other on Sunday) so the kids do not feel like they are getting left out.
    • 8) Make sure when you travel for races you try and make it as much as a vacation as possible especially if the family goes with.
    • 9) Smile at your family when you see them on the course, whether you are racing or cheering; they feed off your energy and recognize that being a sherpa is pretty challenging too!
    • 10) Take time right after you finish and hug the family and thank them for all the support no matter how the day goes! Maybe set them up with a symbolic gesture (e.g., handwritten card) or gift (e.g., framed family portrait with a nice message).


It is a constant juggling act for us but we seem to have a good handle on it and have formed a great support team.  Training with the Tri Coach Georgia team is wonderful because so many athletes have kids, jobs, and train hard.  There is no perfect way to balance life and training but we all do what we can to make sure our priorities stay in tune with our values.

Hope this was helpful. If you have any questions about specific strategies, Coach Kim Possible or I’d be glad to answer them. Best of luck!


Coach Slayer’s Weight Loss Maintenance Tips – TriCoachGeorgia

As a former lardass who fights the battle of the bulge, almost daily I get asked how I maintained the weight loss for over 12 years now. I probably get asked this a lot because of my before and after pictures on the internet that show up often paired with the fact that I went from a decent Clydesdale to a lean and mean world championship qualifier in 2014 with a PR of 4:26 at the 70.3 distance.

There is something curious to the vast majority of triathletes about not having to carry around an extra xx amount of lbs of race weight. For me, this meant all the difference for my race times.

So this is not a mini-blog on how I went from 300 to sub 200 lbs. That was done adopting a low carb lifestyle via I maintained it too using the program by and large but as my training patterns increased so did my needs for carbs. Therefore, I used conventional wisdom with fast carb vs slow carb approaches and the weight gain returned despite 20+ hours of training per week. This weight gain was depressing so I had to find a way to manage fueling without gaining.

That is when, at a USA triathlon coaching education conference, I found nutritionist Bob Seebohar and his concept of Metabolic Efficiency which tailors the carb input to the training demands. I also learned about a revolutionary new product, Generation Ucan, The weight dropped off again and my performance gains were substantial.

This blog is being written to address my ways of keeping the weight off not how to lose it. In the context of proper training for the distance race you are doing, keeping lean often means going faster and getting done sooner!

Before I begin, I should mention I am a licensed psychologist at work and a certified triathlon coach; I am not a nutritionist. I am one of you that seems to have figured out my demons. You may not agree with these steps but these do it for me. Also, before trying any of these, you should consult with your doctor to make sure you do not have a metabolic condition that is part of your problem.

8 Ways to Lose Weight and Maintain Triathlon Fitness Shape

  • 1. As noted above, one should review and try slower carb approaches (like Generation Ucan) to fueling and go easy on recovery refueling and over celebrating race finishes. Some athletes go way overboard pre-, during, and post training and racing and don’t realize the body has 2-3 hours of glycogen stores at any point in time for moderate exercise.
  • 2. Weigh Daily so you can understand your own body’s fluctuations and modify accordingly. I have formal weigh-ins twice a week on critical days (Monday and Friday) too that get reported to my social support system discussed next.
  • 3 . Find a social support system that will help hold you accountable. Use the support system or get mental help if you go into a bad roll. I have a support group that I moderate and participate in called the Lardasses. No matter how hard it is to report increases, it forces us to all be honest so we can face down our eating demons.
  • 4. If you slip up, keep a marker which you won’t pass (maximum density). Most plans allow some cheats. The key is stopping the downward spiral before it gets too late. For me, if I ever get to 210 lbs. I jump on the induction phase of Atkins.
  • 5. Clean out the kitchen and refill it with healthier stuff. Avoid sugary products like sodas and junk food. People often have no idea what the net carbs are in these products and others that are sugary like fruits and fruit juices, brown breads, etc.
  • 6. Limit and avoid the gateway drugs like alcohol. These reduce your inhibitions or control over what you take in.
  • 7. Train more frequently. Extra volume will lean you out and help prepare you for races. For example, short runs at night really help the scale and reduce hunger and time in the kitchen where you can raid the pantry.
  • 8. Keep good snacks and water nearby. I love my protein bars, healthy nuts, cheese sticks and deli meats nearby.

There may be more things I do to keep weight off but it is my hope that these suggestions might help you lean up and continue to race well. This is the biggest bang for the buck for most people in terms of race times. In other words, weight loss translates well at minimal cost and often more rapid than training effects. Once it’s off, you have to figure out how to keep it off! Thanks for reading and get back to me with any questions.

Don’t be a Dodo Bird: Hire the Best Triathlon Coach for You – TriCoachGeorgia

Everyone thinks their triathlon coach is the best. How can everyone be right?


I am in the somewhat unique position of being a licensed professional psychologist and also a certified triathlon coach. I have noticed that these jobs have quite a few similarities. As such there are some things that can be said for each based on the other.

Good coaches are in many ways good psychotherapists and vice versa. Some of the best realize that you have to have a tool box of techniques and not just use one tool for each person. They also realize that a strong connection with their client or athlete trumps any techniques they may be versed in as the fundamental factor of change or improvement.



I can’t tell you how many times I have read a good blog or a social media post about whether a coach is worth it, if I should get one, and/or what makes a good coach. Sometimes posts have a single sport focus as in should I get a running, cycling or swimming coach? Regardless, these are valid questions for many triathletes, including those new to the sport, those often injured, and/or those trying to improve their times.

The responses generally are favorable towards getting a coach if you can afford it. This usually is suggested because he/she helps you with scheduling, guiding training and racing, tailoring training to your limiters, or helping you to not kill yourself or be too lazy. The social media responses often indicate that nearly everyone has the best coach and they recommend their particular coach.

I love the praise as a coach (and psychotherapist) but wonder if it lacks validity without a wealth of data supporting it. This bias toward positivity for the current professional or type of treatment has been referred to in the psychological research by Rosenzweig as the Dodo Bird verdict. There is some debate in the field on the accuracy of the verdict but its a powerful reminder that human factors play a huge role in outcomes.

As a psychologist, I have seen how this same verdict plays out in the psychotherapy domain. Therapy clients love their therapist way more often than they hate them and often go out of their way to praise him or her. The discussion of the reasons behind the Dodo Bird Verdict is probably better left for a graduate psychology class. For triathlon blog purposes, I just want to show you how the psychotherapy outcomes research applies to coach selection and draw some conclusions about how to proceed in a hunt for the best coach for you.

By now you are probably wondering how you can not be a Dodo bird,which goes back to the Lewis Carroll book Alice in Wonderland, where the Dodo bird says after the race is decided that “everyone has won and all must have prizes.” Is every psychotherapist or coach a winner? Do we just look better to active clients because of a bias?


How this applies to psychotherapy and coaching is that both are quite similar human services that are striving for positive outcomes through techniques that go above and beyond the common ones like therapy/training rooms, certifications, communication lines, rapport, and shared goals. There is a limited amount of common approaches in coaching and psychotherapy and there is a paucity of outcomes research in each, but moreso within the field of triathlon coaching.

Thus, we have to draw some conclusions from similar fields of applied human performance about coaching not based on anecdotes and marketing materials, but more heavily on the major findings in psychotherapy outcomes research. The latter are summarized below.


There has historically been minimal psychological outcomes research evidence, until more recently for particular disorders. But, from researchers like Wampold, we have learned some interesting findings like:

  • 1. one type of psychotherapist or technique is often not significantly more effective than another might have been (in helping maximize a human’s functioning or lowering the discomfort).
  • 2. treatment is better than no treatment,
  • 3. a variety of psychotherapist variables like sex,race, etc. did not account for much if any variance in outcomes.


So, if not the therapy technique (provided they are one of the vastly used or common types of techniques) or the match of sex, race, or other variable about the provider, what makes one psychotherapist or coach and his/her techniques better than another for you? It largely boils down to goodness of fit and strength of bond. Yes, it is the relationship or alliance that matters most. 


Back to coaching to not get too far afield. Like their counterparts in psychotherapy, the field of triathlon coaching is not documenting outcomes very well unless you think tweeting every good athlete race and not the bad ones, or listing all accomplishments and not listing failures on a webpage is documenting outcomes.

Also, one can argue about the type of outcome that needs to be measured. How many did the coach lead to a podium or world championship qualification? And just because a coach prepared a Kona Qualifier, what has he/she done with helping Joe or Jane Age Grouper to fulfill his or her potential? How many DNS’s (did not starts) or DNF’s (did not finishes) did they produce? Who is the best value in terms of what they bring to the coach-athlete relationships? Does a particular coach have flexibility to use different tricks of the trade or do they use the same ones for all athletes all of the time to motivate or improve an athlete’s performance?

As can be seen with these questions, not only would the research be difficult to conduct for a triathlon coach, it would be a very complex question. Ultimately, the athletes suffer for lack of a acceptable answer to these questions. They have to go by word of mouth and advertising that is inherently biased and negative information is often obfuscated.


So we end up back to the questions we started with. How should you make the call about whether to have a coach and who would be the best coach for you? There are lots of tips to help you with triathlon coaching selections already. A quick google search will help you find them.

My suggestion is to attend to the goodness of fit more than other variables. Don’t allow the Dodo Bird Verdict to cause you to short change yourself. Here are some ways to figure out the elusive, yet essential, goodness of fit. In other words, these suggestions and questions below will help you determine who really is the best coach for you:


  • 1. What can you afford? This is important as if you are overpaying you will regret that soon after and if you are underpaying you might undervalue the services.
  • 2. Generate a list of coaches through various means that you think you will jive with, can trust, and might work harder or longer for.
  • 3. Ask for HONEST opinions from trusted resources on what coach would fit with you. Maybe target those triathletes with coaches that you trust and/or have seen improve.
  • 4. Ask coaches privately who they would be coached by and why?
  • 5. Scan their social media if that is an area that may be important to you and gain clues. Some give none, others give moderate amounts, and some give lots of shout outs. Will that help or hinder you?
  • 6. Be aware of your personal preferences. Do you perform better for cheerleader, hard nose, or nerdy types. Do you work harder in other areas of your life for a more stereotypically maternal or paternal type regardless of sex? Be careful not to settle for someone that won’t push you outside your comfort zone if you want to improve.
  • 7. Interview the coach and ask for outcome information, training approaches, and current and former athlete names (preferably ones that fired them). Make sure there is nothing that sounds fishy. Trust is key. Ask each coach for a list of a few current and former athletes. Then call these athletes and ask for input and what reasons are given for the failure or success.
  • 8. Assess how much time they will have to communicate with you and how transparent they will be with answering the questions you may have about the big picture or little things like lingo (e.g., negative split, tempo, lactate threshold).  In doing so, see what kind of caseload they have and what other demands or limits they might have (like no communication between 9am to 5pm).
  • 9. Ask for a sample training week of training sessions to review after you give them your availability. Maybe have them assess your current regimen and comment on it.
  • 10. See if they have any questions of you and if they are able to offer a realistic plan for your progression and an honest assessment of your potential based on your accomplishments to date. Provide more information about your goals, short- and long-term as needed.


Now you should have more information that you need to feel most comfortable with your decision. Weigh out the positives and the negatives for the sample of coaches you investigated. If you are one who goes by feel to some degree, it may be best to honor your visceral feelings (i.e., your chemistry with the coach you think brings the most to the table in terms of goodness of fit).

If you are not comfortable, table the decision and do more investigating or “sleep on it” for a few nights. You may ask the coach you decide on if they are amenable to a 3 month trial to see how the fit is and try not to make a long term commitment if you are nervous. However, invest fully after all of this time investigating the most important variable, how aligned you will be with your triathlon coach.


To summarize, in my opinion, favorable psychotherapy outcomes are like favorable triathlon coaching outcomes. Positive outcomes are difficult to come by but definitely there for the taking with hard work, motivation, and good guidance.

Psychotherapy outcomes research tells us that psychotherapy (vs. no psychotherapy) is worth the time and money and there are not a lot of techniques or variables that stand out except in some narrow cases. However, the one variable that clearly does is how closely the psychotherapist and client are aligned or how good they fit together. This relationship is of the utmost importance and seemingly translates well to triathlon results/outcomes in my opinion.

Triathlon coaches are generally valuable resources for triathletes who will mostly be more effective than with no coaching for the vast majority. No particular coaching style or technique is shown to be all that more effective than another no matter what you may be led to believe on the interwebs. The best coach for you is likely the one that is likely to get the most out of you due to your strength of bond.

Finally, do not listen to the Dodo Birds. Be careful choosing your triathlon coach (or psychotherapist for that matter) based on what you read in a form of social media. If the price is right, and you have done your homework in interviews and a bit of background assessment, invest in a coach with whom you think you can build a meaningful bond. It most likely will give you better race results.

Quick and Dirty Triathlon Transition Tips – TriCoachGeorgia

Quick and Dirty Triathlon Transition Tips


Transitions are Essential Parts of Triathlons

Trust me, Coach BigBad. I have won and lost races in transition. Indeed, transitions can make or break your race relative to the competition. In this blog we give you a brief review of some tips to help you shorten them up and gain the time that may help you improve your race day performance.

No Substitute for Preparation

Everything starts the week before. Don’t neglect assessing the course if possible. This will help you know about how to dress and gear the bike on race day. Practice all fine (e.g., snapping helmet) and gross (e.g., mounting the bike) motor movements at least three times. The week before, make a check list that will help you prepare on the nights before the race. These are widely available on the interwebs so don’t slack off and come in unprepared. Regardless, here is an example.

Sample Transition and Race Day List

Swim Tri shorts, swimsuit, or tri suit 2 sets of goggles (i.e., one tinted and one normal) Bright-colored towel Wetsuit Bike Bike Helmet Cycling shoes and socks (if wearing) Sunglasses Water bottle(s) Nutrition Tool Kit: tube, CO2, levers, multi-tool Floor pump (pump up your tires before you leave home but leave the pump in your car just in case) Run Running shoes (2 pairs if you have a late start time. One to leave in transition and one to warm up in) Race belt Hat/visor Other Training device (Garmin, Timex, etc.) & heart rate strap Body Glide Sunscreen Vaseline, powder, band-aids Blunt nose scissors for sticker origami Post-race, warm change of clothes.

Day of the Race

On the morning of the race, get there in plenty of time, be mindful of how long it will take to park and set up transition. People take for granted the time spent waiting. Avoid the stress and be an early bird.

Set up transition on a small towel. Make sure you know where your spot is. Some mark their race with some bright materials like xmas tinsel and others use bright chalk on the ground. Rack bike according to your needs and position, knowing which side is necessary (depends on the race) and make sure it is in the proper gear (easy gear if there is a hill leading out of transition)

The Race is On

T1:  Make sure you know where you bike is as state above!  This will save you a lot of time and frustration.  If a wetsuit or skin suit is worn this may sound simple, but remember to TAKE it off (I’ve done the bike portion in a skin suit before, not my finest moment). Stand up while taking it off, this will save time.  Also, what you wear during the swim is what you should wear the WHOLE race (ironman excluded, if desired).  It is WAY harder to put a dry garment on a wet body than you think.

Make sure you put your helmet on and have it buckled before you leave transition (I also have left my helmet in may car so make sure you have this and your cycling shoes).  Either put your shoes on at your bike or have them attached to your bike and put them on after you mount.  Make sure you know where the mount line is and mount your bike only AFTER the line.  If the area is congested, move to the side or up a few feet/yards to get onto your bike.

T2:  Coming into t2, know where the dismount line is and slow down well before you reach this area.  Dismount BEFORE the line.  If you keep your shoes on your bike make sure your feet are out of them. If not, while getting into t2 be careful not to slip on your cleats as you will be in a hurry and still have momentum coming off the bike AND you will be more tired than you think you are.  Head into transition toward you rack (know where this is again)!  From here place everything in their proper spot, take helmet off and grab everything you need for the run, shoes, gels, hat, RACE BELT and have a great run!


Again, preparation and practice will make your life a lot easier on race day. Also it will help with your race time. Hope you all have a great race and we look forward to seeing you out there. #DoYourJob and #ReapWhatYouSow!