Where Do I Go From Here?

Even before I was a certified triathlon coach, a lot of folks asked me this question. Now even more often I am asked it. And I help the athlete answer the question. I don’t give him or her the answer. I give them the tools and information in a real way to help them make informed decisions.

As Spartacus, aka Coach Brian, discussed eloquently in his YOU MUST BE SMART blog, refining goals is the number one thing you and your coach will do for the next season. Ultimately it’s a decision that should be made with you and your significant others. It all begins with goals, not in an esoteric or impractical managed care sort of way. Managed care, well intentioned as it may be, is ridiculous at times trying to quantify human behavior or performance.

Goal defining is real and meaningful in triathlon. People don’t play around. They say “I want to race at 180 lbs, I want to break 5 hours at HIM, and/or I want to crush 20 mph on an Olympic bike.” Do you want to reach a weight loss goal? Do you want to race sub 5 for a half ironman or sub 12 for an ironman? Both? Do you want to complete a half ironman with a smile and your arms outstretched like Rocky? How about a shot at the podium at a local sprint?

Once you have the goal or goals we begin to set the race schedule.  We have to figure out when we want you to peak. Some folks like two (Spring and Autumn) or three peaks (add Summer in there), others want more or less. How about a season that starts at a Sprint triathlon, progresses to Olympic , half ironman, and culminates in a late season ironman? Do you just love to race alot and stay fit?

Your coach will advise you what is realistic and should be informed about the close and distant races that lend themselves to your goal achievement. Bottom line, you need a coach that is going to get you to the start line healthy, progressively builds your fitness, leaves you happy because you and your family are cool with your training, and ready to crush dreams or achieve your goals.

How do I get there?

After the goal(s) is/are refined and races are targeted, we begin the process of trying the best way to get you ready to achieve the goal(s). For me I try to examine the diet and training nutrition and/or set the weekly structure from which I will apply the training stress through intensity, frequency, and duration. For example, for a long course triathlete, we may shift to more protein, vegetables, and healthy fats and less whole grains or sugar sports nutrition (see our blog on no secret sauce) . Regarding scheduling, it may be shifting a long run to Tuesday, placing a long swim on Saturday, and giving you a longer brick on Sunday. Other days may include some interval and tempo efforts across disciplines.

If the goal is to improve the running base we may look at a 6 (i.e. BarryP on or 3 day running week (i.e. something like a Run Less Run Fast model) and work together to slot the other two sports in accordingly. When swim is the focus, we may look at four days of swims incorporating speed, tempo, combinations, and endurance. Open water and pool swims may be prescribed. Likewise for cycling. We love to prescribe trainer and road sessions hitting each system.  We may have to get creative due to your work and family situation.

In conjunction with your workouts prescribed on Weight loss goals may be addressed through trainingpeaks as well. There are other accountability functions coaches can serve. We may ask you to send us daily weigh ins or food diaries.  Pace, heart rate, watts, perceived effort and fatigue are ways to get at training stress, which help us to modify your schedule in a dynamic way.

Now it’s Show Time

Once the structure is in place, it’s on the athlete to execute and to communicate. It’s the responsibility of the coach to be alert, responsive and flexible.  We are the kind of coaches that make time for you. Why? Because we care!

At, we are trying our best to facilitate you achieving your goals. It all begins with goal refinement. Then we both do our jobs and race day is just another day where we represent! Let us know what will make you intrinsically satisfied. Then we go to war together as a team. Sure is nice to have guys like Coach Slayer and Coach Spartacus behind you.


To go APE you must be SMART

I want to expand on Slayer’s comments about going APE and talk a little about planning.

It’s very important to have a plan for any endeavor and endurance sports such as triathlon will be more successful with a solid plan. Most plans usually start out with an idea and a vague sense of how to attain the idea, but it needs a more deliberate thought than saying, “I want to complete a triathlon.”

Planning involves very specific items to ensure success. Planning includes goal setting and an effective goal setting technique is the SMART one.

SMART is a mnemonic for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timed.

Goals should be straightforward and clearly define what you want to accomplish. In addition to the main goal, there should also be smaller goals placed throughout your plan to use as mile stones and achievements to keep you motivated as you strive for the big goal. The SMART method can be used for any life application from learning to play an instrument to getting a new career. Today, I will discuss using the SMART method for triathlon.


Instead of saying you have a goal to get in shape to complete a triathlon, make that goal specific to a particular race distance, location and date. An example of being specific is, “I will train for three months to complete the Langley Pond Sprint Triathlon set for April 2013 in Aiken SC.” Being specific makes the goal very real to yourself and to others with whom you share it.


Setting goals gives you long term vision and measurable milestones along the way will keep you motivated. Your goal of training for three months and completing this sprint triathlon in April 2013 is measurable because time will continue to tick toward that date. Also, successful goal attainment is enhanced when you can specifically measure your progress. For example, you will be training over three months and in those three months you should have fitness tests or some other marker to verify you are making progress in getting more endurance.


Or, action oriented is next in the SMART way of goal setting. Determining a goal and committing to it puts your actions in motion to attain that goal. You will identify ways to achieving the goal and those ways will become priorities. Attitudes, abilities and skills will be developed to get you to your goal. You also want to be positive in your thoughts and self talk about the goal. Say to yourself, “I will have a great swim session,” instead of, “This swim workout will suck because I’m not a swimmer.” See yourself achieving the goal.


It’s important to make the goal realistic. While you don’t want to make the goal so easy that it takes minimal effort to achieve, you also don’t want to make it so difficult you fail. If you have never swum beyond the length of a pool or ran more than across the yard, setting a goal for a half iron distance tri in three months may not be attainable whereas a sprint tri is more realistic. Your goal needs to be high enough where it requires effort but realistic given your current fitness level and available time to train.


This is the endpoint of your goal. In our example, the timed or timeliness of the goal is three months. Setting a time to attain the goal gives you a clear target towards which to work. A goal without a specific end time is too vague and does not create urgency to get the job done.

There it is. To go APE you must be SMART and the coaches at use this method in our own training and we will use it in planning your training to help you determine and achieve your goals!


Facing Your Limiters in Triathlon

What better time than now to go APE?

Many of us age groupers are winding down our seasons, or have already raced the big race, though some still have that big one on the calendar. Regardless, the racing season is tapering off and we are setting our Autumn and Winter schedules up, planning next season’s race schedule if not done already, and trying to regain some balance in our lives. The taxation of the racing season is less pressing and we can step back. There are a few simple steps to take now that can have a huge impact on your performances next year, and we all love to see a positive trend over time.

Considering the concept of return on investment or best bang for the buck, here are the steps I suggest you take:


If you haven’t a good idea of what your limiter(s) is/are , then it’s time to go back through some of your race results and see your relative rankings in each discipline. Were you a one weapon or two weapon racer? Did you show less prowess in transitions and/or was nutrition your downfall? Did you have solid efforts across the board but suffer due to poor response to stress on mass or wave swim starts, mechanical problems, weaker back halves of races? There are many ways to examine the question at hand.

Begin by listing what areas you have to work on, and then rank order which will give you the biggest benefit next year on race days. Then get some baseline times for various distances, paces, watts, heart rate zones, what have you through some easily obtained testing protocols. This will give you a great starting place to compare back to.


For some the swim is their downfall, for others the bike, and some the run. Some need across the board improvement. If you suffer on the swim, consider hiring a personal or group swim instructor, join a masters’ program, design a winter training program that allows for at least 3-4 days of swimming, review YouTube videos of good swim form, consider signing up for a swim only race, and begin to attack your limiter. Cycling and running plans are widely available online and there are ample opportunities for group rides, spin classes, group running programs, and road races.  Make sure you set realistic goals, dedicate yourself and have the proper support at home and in the water or on land. Mini goals along to a larger goal may be a good way to get where you hope to go without getting frustrated.


Now get it done. Delegate where possible, consider changing your work schedule to accommodate, set the alarm if you need to. Track your progress through free or pay sites online, many of which are linked to social networks. Don’t be afraid to publicize your goals if it will help you meet it. Develop some training buddies that will help hold you accountable and some regular times to meet and train. People are creatures of habit and there is something comforting in routine.


Attacking your limiters now will pay off in a big way when the racing season is back upon us. Going APE is the way to maximize your time investment in a structured and balanced format. Triathlon is a lifelong pursuit, so have longer range vision about your improvements.

Coaches like the ones at can help you now, which will help you later. We have a track record of helping people achieve their goals and doing the same as triathletes ourselves. We make time to help our athletes go APE. Send us an email or call us. We are eager and willing to help you with comprehensive offseason planning that will enable you to best DYJ (Do Your Job) next year!