TrainingPeaks Endurance Coach Summit Brings Coaches to Boulder

Photo by Raeleigh Harris
Simon Butterworth of D3 Multisport
Photo by Raeleigh Harris

By Will Murray

More than 208 coaches converged in Boulder during the first week of August to attend the 2017 TrainingPeaks Endurance Coach Summit.

Held at the University of Colorado and co-sponsored by USA Cycling and USA Triathlon, this 3-day event focused on the business and science of coaching endurance athletes. Keynote speakers included six-time Ironman champion Dave Scott, USAT running coach Bobby McGee and Dirk Friel from TrainingPeaks.

Participants had the opportunity to listen to talks in sports physiology and coaching business. In this year’s format (2016 was the inaugural summit) there were 20-minute business roundtables, where coaches could break into small groups to hear quick presentations on business law, running a multi-coach business, enhancing your social media presence and using TrainingPeaks’ coach referral program.

Dave Scott
photo by Raeleigh Harris

The University of Colorado Sports Medicine and Performance Center showed off its facility with small-group sessions on swimming, strength training, running and cycling biomechanics and nutrition.

Networking opportunities were built into the design throughout. Roka hosted a swim workout and Dave Scott a run workout, both on Friday morning before sessions began. Retul hosted a pre-conference networking session at their new facility on Airport Road in Boulder.

Coach Raeleigh Harris said, “The summit showcased the best coaching methodology, technology and leadership available to us today, all in one location. Total immersion into this setting was invaluable moving forward in development of Coaching services and supporting platforms.”

Emceed by Barry Siff, President of USA Triathlon, this even earned coaches 12 CEUs. Training Peaks plans to bring this event back to Boulder in 2018.

Raeleigh Harris and Mitchell Reiss
Photo by Raeleigh Harris

USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships to Draw 4,000 Triathletes to Omaha This Weekend

Nation’s top amateur triathletes to compete for national titles in sprint and Olympic-distance events

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — More than 4,000 amateur triathletes are registered to compete at the USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships, happening this Saturday, Aug. 12, and Sunday, Aug. 13, at Levi Carter Park in Omaha, Nebraska.

The Age Group Nationals weekend is USA Triathlon’s largest and longest-running National Championship event. Also held in Omaha in 2016, the event will feature two days of competition with national titles up for grabs on each day.

Races begin at 7 a.m. CT each day, with the Olympic-Distance National Championships on Saturday and the Sprint National Championships on Sunday. The Olympic-distance event, which has been held annually since 1983, features a 1,500-meter swim, non-drafting 40-kilometer bike and 10-kilometer run course. Athletes in this race qualified to compete based on a top age-group finish at a previous USA Triathlon Sanctioned Event. The Sprint National Championships, which have no qualifying criteria, will feature a 750m swim, non-drafting 20k bike and 5k run.

On both Saturday and Sunday, athletes will be competing for national titles in their respective age groups. Top finishers in each age group will also earn the opportunity to represent Team USA at the 2018 ITU Age Group Triathlon World Championships in Gold Coast, Australia, in their respective race distances.

The top 18 finishers (rolling down to 25th place) in each age group of Olympic-Distance Nationals will automatically earn a spot on Team USA.

Sprint-distance competitors must finish in the top six in their age groups to secure a spot for the Sprint World Championships, which will feature a draft-legal bike leg. Athletes can also qualify for the Sprint World Championships by finishing in the top-12 in their age groups at the Draft-Legal World Qualifier in Sarasota, Florida, on Oct. 7, 2017. More information about Team USA qualification for the sprint race is available at usatriathlon.org.

All 50 states and the District of Columbia are represented by the competitors in this weekend’s field. The youngest athlete on the start list is 14 years old, and the oldest is 88.

In total, 16 national champions from 2016 will be back to defend their Olympic-distance age-group titles.

Colorado Athletes Racing both the Sprint and Olympic distance events:

Lena Aldrich
Kathleen Allen
Tea Chand
Julia Gorham
Ellen Hart
Michele Hemming
Heidi Hoffman
Barbara Kostner
Melissa Langworthy
Kimberly Malinoski
Nancy Mallon
Stephanie Meisner
Tatiana Morrell
Karen Rice
Dorothy Waterhouse
Karen Weatherby
Sandi Wiebe
William Ankele Jr
Michael Boehmer
Simon Butterworth
Alan Carter
George Cespedes
Kirk Framke
Jim Fuller
Joseph Gregg
Daniel Haley
Jim Hallberg
Tom Hennessy
Tim Hola
Grant Johnson
Thomas Murray
David Pease
Erik Peterson
Kevin Sheen
Vincent Trinquesse
Nathan Turner
Gary Waterhouse
Andrew Weinstein
Lockett Wood

Mother/daughter racing Sprint
Christy & Hannah Croasdell

Average women’s age 54
Average men’s age 46

Tri Coach Tuesday: Racing with Quick Turn Around

Racing long and short distances over a short time frame

by Simon Butterworth, D3 Multisport

 

Some History

Back in the day, the greats of our sport, Allen, Scott, Molina and many others could be found at races of all distances at any time of the year.  It worked, Dave and Mark still hold some of the fastest times in Kona when they were racing without all the sports nutrition, training guidance, and very expensive aero stuff.  Amongst the professionals, those days are gone but not completely.  At the very pointy end of the spear in Olympic racing, you will not find anyone racing long but there are some professionals, usually those who are not quite at the top of the heap in short stuff, are racing very fast and making money working all distances.

If you dig into the USAT Rankings a bit it becomes quickly apparent that the ability to do well at all distances is more in reach within the amateur ranks.  However, I believe that if you have three amateurs of equal potential short and long, who specialize in one or the other the specialists will win.

Most athletes are not, however, thinking of winning in the sense of being first in their AG.  Their goals are a bit more modest and winning is defined at having fun, a great race and perhaps setting a new PR.  If those are your goals then racing long and short is very much an option.

Indeed “winning” in short and long races can be done over a short period of time, two or three races in a month.  The key is setting the right goals, priorities, and expectations followed by a plan that matches the above, and sticking to it.

Goals & Priority

Conventional advice has it that peaking for more than three A races in a season is difficult.  Professionals can perhaps do more but don’t do so often.  Amateurs, who have another life to consider, should not go beyond three.  And, if you are trying to squeeze three races in with a month only two of those should be A races.

The reason is that racing at your best requires a good taper.  What defines a good taper varies with the individual and some can get away with less than others.  Everyone, as they age, needs more time to recover from hard training and/or racing.  Finding what works for you is a process of experimentation.  It is a very bad idea to conclude that because you had a great race result with a minimal taper you don’t need to taper more.  So getting in the right taper for two A races in a month is just doable more not so.

Racing three events in a month also messes big time with your training.  So if there is another major A race later in the summer make sure you have thought through the idea very carefully.

Even if there is not, you must answer the question honestly, why do I want to do three races close together.  Get input to that thought process from friends and family. Make sure the answer is a good one before signing up.  Situations I have had in the past have been the chase for a Kona slot, a good reason I think.  Twice, back in the day when you could get to Kona in a Half IM, I did Eagleman (failed), the Boulder Sprint, then Buffalo Springs Half (success), all in three weekends.  Buffalo Springs was not really planned before Eagleman but was certainly a fallback plan, and I structured the five weeks (two-week taper for Eagleman plus the 3 weeks covering the racing) of training accordingly,  I have also done an IronMan and then Olympic the following weekend.  There are dangers in all of the above and that is where expectations become very important.

 

Expectations

Expectations and goals are closely related.  As noted before if you want to really race your absolute best you should focus on short or long course racing.  But that’s not fun for some, yet for others, it is just great.  Indeed I believe that someone who races to their potential in short course racing is every bit the amazing triathlete who does an IM.  If you doubt that premise watch one of the videos from the Olympic Triathlon.  That is extremely hard, an all out effort for about 2 hrs.

Expectations/Goals are easier to set if the long event is the last one.  The hardest scenario is an IM first.  I do not believe you can realistically have a short distance A race within at least 4 weeks, perhaps longer of an IM.

I learned that lesson early in my IM career from the combination of an IM and 5K (5weeks later), sprinting hard to the finish up a slight hill almost put myself on the disabled list for months.

Last year at Nationals I was smarter, a week after IM Boulder.  I got passed at mile four of the run.  I am not sure if I could have picked up the pace and will never know.  I stuck to my plan, swim and bike hard, play it safe on the run.

You could have an Olympic A race three weeks out from an IM or a sprint one week out.  There is a catch to the above, the potential for an injury.  If you have been training hard for 6-10 months for the IM and that is a lot of your time, family pain, and effort.  Ruining all that by sprinting to the finish in a sprint and pulling a muscle (that will not recover in 2 weeks) does not make a lot of sense to me.

 

Planning

The easiest scenario to plan for is a sequence of A-C-A or C-C-A races over three weeks (note as I said above I don’t think this could include an IM as one of the first two races.  Follow the taper you have worked out from previous racing for the weeks leading into the first A race.  You can’t gain any fitness by training hard after the first race so the next two training weeks should be short (relative) workouts with a small amount of intensity two days out, no explosive efforts (think injury).  The middle C race is your higher intensity and/or longer training day.

If you think, “I must do some training between these races,” my own experience and many other anecdotal stories say otherwise.  Coming home from Eagleman in 2009 I caught a bug on the plane.  It was slow developing and I followed my own advice above up to the Boulder Sprint the next weekend.  When I finished that it did not seem like I had been smart, the bug hit hard.  I did no training until two days before Buffalo Springs and then it was more just to see how things felt.  Race day the bug was gone and got the Kona slot with 13 seconds to spare.   There are many other stories of athletes having a great race after two weeks of fighting off a bug or injury with no training.

If the first race is an A race and an IM the last two better be two C races.  The plan would be similar, the first week after the IM the pool is your friend, the bike second and the run last.  I would not run more than twice near the end of the week just before the next race.  The second race would be your big training day of the three weeks; more recovery would be in order with one perhaps a short SBR mid week before the last race.

 

Summary

Setting the right expectations is the most important thing when planning races close together.  They go together with setting reasonable goals.  If you get those two right, planning the training around the races is reasonably easy.

A way of approaching this is to think of the advice given to IM athlete mentally preparing for a race, “look at it as a long hard training day” which you have already done more than once.  Then put on your recovery hat to fill in the time between the races.

One final thought.  Be prepared to bail on one or two of the races.  More important things in the other life can pop up at the wrong (for racing) time.  But then this is no different than any other time when great plans go out the window, stuff happens, there will be other races.

 

 

Simon Butterworth is a coach for D3 Multisport and notes, “In the big picture I see attitude more than age making the difference in many aspects of this sport. There are times in triathlon that to see improvements you need to slow down and spend some time working on your technique – which requires a great deal of discipline. So does having a coach and following the plan written for you. The best coach in the world can only be of help if you’re ready and willing to do the work.”  Simon has qualified and competed in the Ironman World Championships 12 times and is a USAT, USA Cycling and Training Peaks Certified Coach.

Tri Coach Tuesday: Spacing Multiple Ironman Distance Events

by Simon Butterworth, D3 Multisport Coach

Anyone with too much time on their hands or with dreams of getting to Kona have been confronted with the question “how much time between each event”. I hope to convince you that for most people, with another life, i.e. not a professional triathlete, and a desire to do a few more races over the years, that the shortest time possible (between events) is the best. This initially may not seem logical and in some circumstances, it is not. However, I do think it is the right approach for many and the idea is not often considered. There are risks, however.

There is certainly a limit on how close if the goal is to race your best at both events. I don’t know what that is but can’t imagine that it is less than 3 weeks. Just about the minimum time needed to recover. It is probably closer to 5 weeks, enough time to recover and then regain fitness. And if I were coaching an athlete with a chance to get to Kona, and do their best there I would probably make the qualifier event at least 8 weeks. This gives time for recovery, one maybe two long Bricks and some threshold efforts over the last three weeks. Be sure to write up a race report for yourself and if coached your coach. Include all the details so you can maximize the learning.

A short gap also requires a realistic evaluation of the damage you have done to yourself in the first race. It would be counterproductive to what I am preaching here to go do the second race in 3-5 weeks with an obvious injury, from the first one, that could set you back months if not years. The objective is to minimize the stress on the body. So you need to be willing to not race number 2. Which of course is why I think 8 weeks is the minimum for a qualifier.

Simon Swim Course Cabo - 1From my own experience doing two IronMan events close together is it is not only possible but has worked very well for me. Twice I have found myself on the same plane heading to Cozumel with one of the top athletes from Colorado Ellen Hart having raced in Kona 6 weeks earlier. Both of us had the same idea. Use the fitness developed for Kona to attempt to gain another qualifying slot. It worked for both of us both times. I have done the same thing in Florida, when I was a lot younger, with only 3 weeks between races. The benefit, in this case, should be fairly obvious; we have reduced the necessary volume of training needed for the following year considerably.

There are two points I should make about this idea. Attempting to qualify for Kona make sense in races like Cozumel and others late in the year. They don’t all fill making a last minute decision, after looking at the competition, possible. Also, you may get lucky and find that the competition is not that strong or deep so that even if you don’t produce your best race it will be good enough (my case certainly when I all three times).

What actual difference it makes leads me to look at what I have done over the past 6 years. Here is what the years looked like comparing the number of weeks with more than 15 hrs of training.

2011: IM in May and October, 18 weeks
2012: IM in October and November, 15 weeks
2013: IM in October, 12 Weeks
2014: IM in August and October, 17 weeks
2015: IM in October, 12 weeks
2016: IM in August, October, and November, 20 weeks.

Baseline for training for one race was about 12 weeks of 15+ hrs of training, 2013. Spreading out the races got me to 18 in 2011. Adding a third race last year where they were all relatively close together and raised the number to only 20.

I am not fan of a sample of one, and unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of good examples comparing other athletes who have a mix of the same kind of race seasons. However, Training Peaks (which I use for myself and my coaching) has several ways of automatically and easily creating an Annual Training Plan. So I created three plans as another way to look at the question. I set them up as follows.

A. Races in May and October about a 20-week gap
B. Races in August and October 9 weeks apart
C. Two races at the end of the year in September and October 4 weeks apart

Input to the plan included 16.5 hrs per week average and assuming the athlete was already a strong (as defined by TP). TP and ran the plan from the end of October in the previous year thru the October race.

Simon in CaboIn these scenarios, Training Peaks had the following number of weeks over 15 hrs (my arbitrary definition of a big week), 24, 21, 18. I did make a manual adjustment to the ATP with 4 weeks separation. TP had the athlete doing two 16hr weeks right after the first IM in September, not realistic for most athletes, other than perhaps professionals.

 

The difference in the number of big weeks, between the 20 and 9-week gap is not that great, 3, weeks. But 6 weeks between the two extremes certainly is. The other thing to think about is that if you are in this sport for the long haul that 3-week gap is going to get more of your attention as time progresses. In 10 years that’s more than half a year of big weeks.

Besides the pounding, there is another thing most of us need to consider. You love the sport but you do have another life and taking a few weeks back to spend with the family seems like a good idea, assuming you are allowed to do more than one IM a year.

One last thing to add, a shout out to a friend and D3 athlete Steve Nabity. Steve made it to Kona this year, his first and got derailed by a stomach bug, 22 pit stops later he did finish late in the night. I sold him on a go in Cozumel. It did not work. One slot, finished second. He did have a great race, however, confirming that good races are possible close together. He was just not as lucky as I was with the competition. He is not giving up and I have a strong suspicion that he will be racing beside me again next October.

Life, the part not swimming, biking and running, will often dictate when and if you can do multiple IM events in one year. But if you are determined to do so do what you can to minimize the annual training volume to give Life as much time as possible. Summing up, here is what to think about:

+ At least 3 weeks between events. A bit more is better.
+ Make sure you recover properly, 2 weeks low-intensity training after 1st race.
+ As the gap gets bigger include one long Brick and some Threshold efforts.
+ If you are being coached, talk now before entering races.

Original post on D3 Multisport, here

 

Coach Simon has a great perspective on winning. Winning does not have to mean being first. It was never more clear to me than Hawaii 2009 when circumstances conspired to put me out on the run with many for whom winning was just finishing. Being first in a triathlon is great for the lucky ones. I have been lucky at times, but “winning” for whatever reason can be just as much fun and many times even more rewarding. So my goal for anyone I coach is to help them win!