Thinking of Hiring a Triathlon Coach? Few Tips


As the new year approaches we get a lot of requests for coaching. For those who are new to the sport, who have never had a coach, or are interested in hiring a new coach, these are some things you should consider to help you find the right one.  A coach can have many roles in helping you achieve your triathlon goals: 

  • Designing an individualized training plan that takes into account your strengths and weaknesses, rate of progression, and availability.
  • Navigating your season by providing structure around development of technical skills, defining training objectives at different times in the season, and developing race-specific strategy
  • Managing your time and energy more efficiently. Having a plan tailored specifically to you leaves you with more mental energy for family, work, and social time, rather than worrying about creating the plan and if/when/where to make adjustments.

Here are some suggestions on what to look for in a coach: 

  • How accessible/responsive is the coach?  Understand what their response time is for questions on workouts, review/feedback on completed workouts.  Ask what modes of communication are accepted; text, email, call, DM? Do they take a day off, when are they not accessible? 
  • Ask about their credentials:  USAT Certifications, Ironman U., USA Cycling/Running/Swimming, Strength Training, etc.  This will help you understand their education level and commitment to ongoing learning. 
  • Years of experience:  1 year or 20 years? The number of athletes coached to an Ironman finish (or whatever distance or PR you may be aspiring too).
  • Scheduling:  When will you receive your schedule?  And what is the typical block? 7/14/21/30 days?
  • Changes: How many changes are allowed, how frequent, what if I miss a workout or need to move it?  This may apply to the level of coaching you are willing to pay for.   
  • Is there more than one level of coaching?  Generally, more communication, more allowed schedule changes and more flexibility correlates to higher fees.  Time is money.

Once you’ve determined that your coach is responsive, reliable, and qualified, the next step is to figure out if a particular coaching style works for you. In the same way that you see different personality types of the coaches of your favorite sports teams, triathlon coaches have different styles and methods of motivation. Some coaches are more directive in defining a training plan, while others take on a collaborative approach. Communication styles and frequency vary and should ideally match your own.

Here are some suggestions on finding a coach whose methods and approaches are best suited for you:

  • Short course or long course focused: Many coaches work with a variety of distances, but some specialize.
  • Beginners vs. advanced athletes: Regardless of your speed, some coaches may prefer to focus on one end of the spectrum.
  • Data: Do you prefer a coach who uses heart rate, power, or RPE? Make sure you have a power meter if you are choosing a coach who only works with power zones.
  • What is the coach’s motivational style? What type of motivation works best for you?
  • Expectations: What are the coach’s expectations of you as an athlete? Do you fit within their framework?

If you commit to putting time and energy into finding the right coach, the benefits you will gain will be exponential.

D3 Coaches Laura Marcoux and Julie Dunkle co-authored this article and each has outstanding coaching credentials and inspiring athlete success stories. What you will find from both of them is a commitment to help you achieve your goals and they will leave no stone unturned to help you get it done!

Kona Racing Wisdom From Kona Veteran Simon Butterworth

Simon Butterworth, age group Champion, Kona 2017

D3 Coach Simon Butterworth has had the most incredible athletic prowess of racing the Ironman World Championships fourteen times. He is about to embark on his 15th this October. His knowledge of the course and conditions is unparalleled. He is a strategic athlete, researching and understanding every aspect of the course so that his own race plan is thoroughly dialed in for all variables. And the best part – he is willing to share his top tips with you – all to ensure your own race day success. 

1. Don’t drink for the first 30 minutes after the swim. I have only seen this advice once, it was in an article by Dave Scott just before my first Ironman in 2001. The idea is that you have almost certainly been drinking during the swim and adding more fluids on top of some nice saltwater (or “clean” lake/river water) and it is not necessarily kind on your stomach. Best to wait until the swim water is digested.

2. Don’t use RPE in the first 30 minutes of the bike. RPE this early in the race is very misleading. When you get going on the bike you most likely will feel like superman/superwoman. You will not have felt this good starting a bike after the swim in months. Don’t let that feeling get you hammering as you hit the hills in Kona. Staying in your targeted power zone is the best way to control those emotions. 

3. Be prepared for the unexpected. Spending some time visualizing the race you hope for and thinking about things that can go wrong is essential. And, better than just thinking about it is writing it down. I always write a race report before the race (finalizing it on the long flight to Kona). It does include the possible bad stuff and most importantly, things I can do that will lift me out of a hole. Here are some potential problems:

  • Exceptionally windy day (my first in 2001 had 55 mph gusts on the Queen K and 30 mph headwind going up to Hawi). Stay in your aerobars and be sure to practice that when you get to Kona in the wind. Staying low going into the wind is an obvious best choice. Staying low in crosswind gusts gets you just a bit closer to the road, wind diminishes as you get close to the ground.
  • Watch the grass on the side of the road for a small warning of a big gust.
  • If you flat, or have a mechanical problem, be sure to keep up the hydration and fueling. I failed to think of that when I had an extended stop one year. Fortunately, I realized my mistake in time. 
  • Be prepared for a case of the wobbles when you get off the bike. In 2001 I totally underestimated the effort of staying upright in the wind gusts, and the effects of the heat. I almost hit the pavement when I got off the bike. The first 3 miles were ugly and slow but I recovered and finished. Even in better conditions those first two hills on Alii, which you hardly notice in practice, can seem like a mountain. Pace things right and take a short walk and they will seem much smaller on the way back to the crowds in Kona. 
  • Walking, you will unless you are an elite athlete and even they do some. I solve the mental stress of walking by planning to do so on a schedule. If you have not been doing this, now is not the time to change your plans. However, be ready mentally to deal with walking. You will not be alone. Experiment with the duration of the walk and intensity. You might be surprised at how a modest 15 seconds (which is about 30 fast steps for me) makes you feel and getting into a routine can help. Short fast walking can help fire up the glutes that have probably gone to sleep. 

Some extra points to remember.

  • This is nothing you haven’t heard before, but it is much too late to make changes in your gear. That includes clothing, and the fuel and sports drink you use. Dave Scott changed his bike position three weeks before his last IM, he did not finish. 
  • No flip flops, or barefoot walking. Make sure your footwear minimizes the chance of an accident as you enjoy Kona before the race. 
  • Above all else, enjoy the experience of racing the Ironman World Championships! See you out there.

D3 Coach Simon Butterworth will be racing his 15th IMWC this October. In the big picture, he sees 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 Butterworth’s Tale from IM Cork—Grab a Guinness, Great Read

Many of you probably know Simon Butterworth of Louisville, Colorado. He has competed at the IRONMAN World Championships 14 times having won his age group two years ago. He competes in local races constantly and there aren’t many people on the planet who have raced more triathlons. He is from Ireland and recently competed at Cork and you will enjoy reading about his voyage “home” to race in one of the hardest and most weather challenged races he has ever done. An epic day filled with amazing people he encountered. Check out his journey!

By Simon Butterworth

I knew Irish weather could throw us a curve when I signed up last year, but I had no choice.  How could a immigrant from Ireland pass up the first ever IM just 45 miles from their hometown Tramore, impossible.  My enthusiasm for the race will be clear if you read my Blog.  It is after all the Irish who are your hosts and there are non-better at that.  It helped a lot that I managed to finish but it was a real case of “but for the grace of God” that I did.  Two of my fellow old geezers got a flat which finished the race for them.  Try fixing a flat when you are almost hypothermic, motion is essential to not going there.  

I sincerely hope that our day does not deter other Irish Americans (and any one who becomes Irish on St Patricks Day) from going “home” to race.  But do it with eyes wide open.  Preparation for the possible conditions is key.  Sort out an appropriate kit for the worst (and hope for the best like the day before and after), especially for the bike.  I got the best kit possible (my opinion after the race) from Rapha then hoped that I would not have to use it.  It made the finish possible.  I should note that you can do that race in those conditions in bike shorts and short sleeve top, but you probably need to be Irish, from somewhere in the UK or a similar climate.  

All IronMan races are hard it’s just that some take longer than others.  That is a key consideration when picking a race and you are not blazing fast but if you can go the distance within the cutoff times you just need to plan for a longer day.  You need more fluids and food and you also have to adjust your power or HR limits.  You can research what to do on your own but a coach in this case makes matters much easier.  

You will also hear the roads were rough.  Any of us who have done Escape from Alcatraz know that they were not the worst roads in Triathlon by far.  Last year I watched the pro men going airborne over the ruts and potholes on the last downhill to T2 as I was going up.  There were a lot of bumpy roads but again preparation, lower tire pressure and the right bike helps.  I rode on a Dimond, a beam bike that handles rough roads well.  A good road bike that is stiff laterally but compliant vertically would be better than an all-around stiff tri bike.   Gearing is key, I could have used a 32 cog on the rear but managed fine with a 34/28, except for Windmill.  

Speaking of gearing big shout out to Niall McCarthy and Michelle Nagle, both finished 5th in their first IM, Niall did it stuck in the big chain ring for the second loop, ouch.  I met both of them Tuesday before the race (a nice sunny one).  Also shout out to my friends John Kelly, Chanc Wood (both from my Colorado town Lafayette) and Katie O’Brian (from neighboring Boulder).  John made a brave go of it with an injured shoulder but was forced to concede to the conditions.  Katie crashed but continued on learning that she had fractured her collar bone when she finished, tough.  Chanc finished, the prime objective, not sure how his day went.  

I can’t say enough about the people of Youghal and the surrounding towns, villages and farms who came out to support us either as volunteers or in the cheering section.  Big thank you to the club in the middle of Youghal giving us the motivation to press on with some very loud chants.  Seeing the same people all around the course on lap two of the bike in the rain meant that if they could do that so could we.  I have not seen anything like that in over 150 triathlons and 26 IM races.  Only Challenge Roth is the same, and they have the advantage of a much larger population surrounding the course, and sunny skies last year.  

If I was bummed out it was not seeing more happy faces outside the pubs on the course, temptation to stay warm was strong.  Imagine the crowd on the lawn of the Beer Garden at the start of the bike on a day like Monday.  

Anyone with ideas of heading to Ireland next year give me a call or message.  I would be happy to help with the decision making.  Hope you enjoy the story of my two weeks in Ireland and race day on my blog

Tri Coach Tuesday: A Case for Zone 1

By Laura Marcoux, D3 Multipsport Coach

Zone 1 is commonly known as the recovery zone. We don’t think of it as a “training zone” like the rest of them. Usually zone 1 is described as “extremely easy”, “embarrassingly easy”, “gentle”, and “slow”. It’s basically one step above sitting on the couch. None of these words make us feel like we’re getting any work done so we tend to avoid zone 1 because it’s typical descriptors devalue its training worth.

In a study from the International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance*, that compared training intensity distribution during the course of an Ironman season, statistically significant performance increases were shown when training time was spent primarily in zone 1, compared to zone 2 and higher. For the purpose of this study, zone 1 corresponds to heart rates below aerobic threshold, and zone 2 corresponds to heart rates at and above aerobic threshold (but below anaerobic threshold), which is the intensity in which an Ironman is primarily performed. The participants that spent the majority of their training time above their aerobic threshold (zone 2), had comparatively slower competition times than those who trained mostly below their aerobic threshold.

Read Laura’s complete article HERE


Team Manager: D3 Multisport

This is a new position for D3 Multisport and as our triathlon coaching company grows, the purpose of this position is to create camaraderie, excitement and connection among all Team D3 athletes and coaches. This position will manage the Team experience for new and current Team D3 athletes (including training plans, custom plans and 1-to-1 coached athletes) by creating and implementing opportunities, programs and communication pieces that demonstrate value, recognition, support and other important aspects to enhance their coaching experience.  


This is a part-time, hourly position.  Approximately 5-10 hours per week depending on the projects and season.  The person in this position will need to have some office hours in Boulder, CO.  The schedule can be pre-set on a weekly basis (outside of special events), or can be flexible.  This position will report to the Director of Getting Things Done and the responsibilities are as follows:



*Create and implement a communication strategy with the Director of Getting Things Done utilizing the Team D3 Facebook Group, email and other strategies.

*Manage the Athlete Page of the D3 website

*Coordinate communication to the Team about events, special offers, sponsors, etc.

*Get creative with tools available including InfusionSoft, Canva, Facebook, FB Live, etc.



*Coordinate Team meet-ups at races and align the coaches as necessary

*Coordinate Team events (volunteer opportunities, tri community event participation, etc.)

*Identify and implement opportunities in the tri community where a D3 presence is appropriate.

*Coordinate at least the following race day, and pre or post events:  IM Boulder, Boulder Peak, Boulder 70.3, Annual Season-End Party



*Manage the tri and cycling orders for the Team

*Manage orders for accessories including hats, shirts, etc.

*Manage gear inventory

*Manage monthly new athlete roster to determine gear needs, thank you cards, etc.

*Update the Athlete Portal section of the Team D3 website where gear is featured



*Brainstorm and implement other areas to engage the Team!

*Other duties as assigned.


Desired Qualifications

*Community or team building experience

*Strong customer service background

*Exceptional event planning skills

*Amazing attention to detail

*Packaging and postal experience

*Loves to make people feel part of something special

*Enjoys being a virtual and in-person presence

*Is a networker

*Has experience setting and executing a communication calendar

*Oh ya gotta be creative (both in a digital sense and when it comes to working with little-to-no budget on projects)

*Ability to assimilate with a brand very quickly

*Comfortable working in a home-office (ours and yours!)

*Can come up with new ideas and implement them

*Flexibility is key as we define the responsibilities of this position

*No questions about it – you need to be able to multi-task

*Experience with a CRM tool (InfusionSoft preferred)

*Strong experience with social channels (YouTube, Insta, Twitter, FB, etc.)

*Good experience with Google systems (docs, calendar, etc.)

*Absolutely must be committed to our Team.  It’s not just a job, you’ve got to demonstrate passion for triathlon and the community of the sport as this is a lifestyle and will require odd work hours including weekends


For questions and to apply for this position, please email the Director of Getting Things Done, Melanie Ricci, at  Include your resume and a cover letter that explains at least 3 reasons why you are a good fit for this position and pick one of your own personal endurance events and explain what it meant to you.

Tri Coach Tuesday: IRONMAN Boulder – 16 Tips for Race Day Success

by Dave Sheanin, D3 Multisport Coach


Boulder is the perfect place for an Ironman, of course!  It’s home to some of the fastest professional and age group triathletes in the world, and the 18x collegiate national champion CU Triathlon Team.  Who wouldn’t want to race here? Nobody. Of course, you want to race here. Following is a course preview that includes specific tips I have gleaned from my experience on the course both racing and training.



  • Remember that Boulder is at 5,430 feet above sea level–even higher than Denver, the Mile High City.  The air is thin up here and if you’re coming in from out of town, be sure to stay up on your hydration and don’t forget the sunscreen.

  • A big change for 2018 is going from two separate transition areas–to a single transition area at the Rez.  You’ll still take a bus from the high school to get to the Rez on race morning. This is the only way to get to the race start.  Ironman has a ton of buses and there usually isn’t much of a wait, but my strong recommendation is to arrive at the high school first thing.  Better to have a little extra downtime out at the Rez than be standing at the high school waiting for a bus.


  • This is one of the best IM swims on the circuit!  Not because the water is crystal clear (it’s not) and not because it’s an ultra-beautiful venue (we locals think it’s just fine).  No, what makes this an awesome swim is that you swim north, then west, then south–in a single loop. What’s the big deal? Let me remind you that the sun rises in the east.  You’re never swimming into the rising sun.

  • IM uses a rolling start in Boulder so you’ll self-seed by time per the normal procedure.  In the past, this race has been held in August and the Rez typically heats up to or above the wetsuit threshold temp, but in June, I would expect the Rez to be in the mid-60s and wetsuit legal.

  • The course is very well marked and only has two turns (both lefts).  You’ll exit on a boat ramp then make a right to pick up your T1 bag and a U-turn to head into the change tents.

  • Do not skip the sunscreen volunteers as you exit the change tent and head to your bike.  It only takes a couple of seconds to get fully slathered–you’ll want that protection in the Colorado sun.

Complete article here

Tri Coach Tuesday: Get Out the Door, You’ll be Happy You Did

It’s early in the season, but sometimes that motivation just wains.  Coach Alison helps ‘Fire Up Your Motivation’


The D3 Triathlon Minute, Episode 107, Fire Up your Motivation from D3 Multisport on Vimeo.


Team Colorado: Join Us for this Special Ride

The next Team Colorado event/ride will be May 20th at Tom Watson park.

This is a special event as we pay tribute to a well known, and well loved Colorado triathlete, Joe Vrablik who recently passed away. He was coached by D3 and good friends with Michael Stone, owner of Colorado Multisport. Both organizations will be present at this meeting and would like to share a few moments and stories with you at the ride briefing. Joe had just qualified for Kona through the legacy program. His story is well documented and subject of a couple of IRONMAN special videos. Tim Brosious, race director of IRONMAN Boulder will be on hand as well. This is what Team Colorado is really all about, the community and supporting each other, please come join this last meet up before IRONMAN Boulder.


We will ride, and D3 will have coaches on hand to help us break into groups and try to sort of ride together and finish about the same time so we can enjoy a picnic/tailgate. We are working food details and park accommodations so stay tuned–it very well could be a byoe–bring your own everything- but we shall see.

Afterwards will be a great time to chat with coaches and get some last minute training ideas if you are doing IMB and to ask Tim about anything to do with the race and meet your “neighbors” and people sharing the course with you!

The ride:

Arrive at 8, briefing at 8:15, wheels down at 8:30

Return approx 12:30 with routes following the IM Boulder course with at least one loop, possibly two or a modified second loop. Depending on the group and how we split up we will accommodate all levels.


Check out this video if you want to learn more about Joe

Calendar event here

303Beginner Tri Project – Training 101: Bare Essentials

by Alison Freeman


I firmly believe that ANYONE can do a sprint triathlon. And you don’t necessarily need a coach, a training plan, or 10 hours a week to prepare for it, either. But you’ll have a more enjoyable experience if you do some training prior to race day. Here are some general training guidelines that will set you up for success at a sprint triathlon:


– Whatever your starting point – the couch, the peak of fitness, or somewhere in between – start your training exactly there and build up your workout frequency and duration gradually. Jumping into a six-day-a-week training plan if your most recent marathon was Netflix-related is not the road to success as much as the road to getting injured.


– Endurance is built on consistent training, week after week, so build up to a training frequency that includes two swims, two bikes, and two runs each week.


– Increase your longest swim, bike, and run distances with the goal that your longest swim, bike, and run are at least 20% greater than the race distance. For a standard sprint triathlon, that means swimming 950 meters, biking 14.5 miles, and running (or walking or jogging) 3.75 miles.



– Make sure to include recovery in your plan! You need to give your body time to “absorb” the fitness that you’re building. Even when you’re firing on all cylinders, make sure to have one workout-free day each week. (And that does not mean go ahead and climb a 14er. That means sit on the couch.) Additionally, every 3-4 weeks should be a recovery week that has 20-30% less overall workout volume than the weeks prior.


– Give yourself several opportunities to run immediately after biking, even if it’s only for five or ten minutes. Your legs will not cooperate the first time you try this – which is why that should not be on race day. The more often you do it, the easier it will feel. (By the way, this type of workout is typically called a “brick,” which comes from BRC: bike and run in combination.)


– If you can find a good location for it, do a race simulation day – swim then bike then run – three weeks before the race. A metric version of your race distances (about 60% of the actual distances) is a good approach. This race day simulation will provide some good experience, like how it feels to bike when dripping wet, and will also give a great confidence boost before race day!


– Your biggest training week should be three weeks prior to the race (the week that concludes two weeks prior to race day). After that, you DO want to continue training so that you don’t lose all the fitness that you worked so hard to achieve! Two weeks prior to the race decrease your overall training volume by 40%. The week prior to the race, do a short swim (or two), bike, and run, and stay off your feet as much as possible.

– Be sure to incorporate training on terrain that is comparable to your race location. If your race swim is in a lake or reservoir, be sure to find some opportunities for open water swimming. If your bike and/or run courses are on trails or have some big hills, hit those up in training as well.



If reading all of that gave you a headache, and you now feel more confused about triathlon training than you were this morning – just swim, bike, and run. You’ll be fine!