Chris Hauth

Conversation with Rich Roll on Smart Endurance Training

I recently appeared on The Rich Roll Podcast, where Rich and I discussed a number of fitness, training and overall wellness subjects that included:

  • Chris & Rich’s preparation for Ötillö
  • Getting Rich ‘race fit’ at 50 after a 5-year break
  • Training into your 50’s & 60’s
  • Chris’ training & racing philosophy
  • Pros & cons of external monitors/trackers
  • Fitness versus racing
  • Chris’ three pillars for peak performance
  • Training smart vs. training hard
  • The primacy of process over results & enjoyment over obsession
  • Strategies for optimizing recovery 

You can listen to this podcast on iTunes or download it from Rich’s website.

Conversation with Rich Roll on Smart Endurance Training

Patriot Perfection: What the New England Patriots can teach Triathletes

A timely re-posting of an article I wrote in 2007:

Patriot Perfection: What the New England Patriots can teach Triathletes

By Chris Hauth

I watch a lot of sports. Many would be of the opinion too much sports. I love college football; enjoy the NFL, baseball and anything that ESPN seems to get excited about. I listen to sports talk radio and check the websites for the latest information. I am actually watching football as I write this. Anyways, you might have heard about this incredible season the New England Patriots are putting together. Tonight they are looking to go to 13-0, all while completely destroying their opposition. They have been favored in the past weeks by the 2nd biggest margin of victory ever according to the Vegas ‘line’. How are these guys so good? How does this relate in ANY way to triathlon?

Flawless execution and experience.

Flawless Execution

The common theme that most ‘experts’, former coaches, radio hosts and Monday morning quarterbacks seem to agree upon is that football is a game of execution and nobody is currently executing their offense better than the New England Patriots. I argue that all sports are about execution. We practice for only one reason: to execute better on game or race day. Of course fitness ties into this equation. You cannot execute a great race in triathlon (or any sport) without having the fitness to execute your plans late in the bike or run. But I have observed that most triathletes are ‘fit’ enough to have the result they desire on race day. So, therefore we are back to how we execute on ‘game day’.

Flawless execution begins in training & practice. We all know that in order to be fit enough on race day we need to swim, bike and run plenty of miles. We do this by combining a number of base miles with tempo & speed miles and the outcome should be the fitness needed on race day. Once again, all football teams practice, and I doubt they vary too much in what they practice. But I have a feeling they vary greatly in how they practice. Sure, you can go out and bike 100 miles and run 15 after. But how are you doing these miles? Are you focused on race day nutrition and hydration or just stopping at the local bakery and shops for a pastry or Snickers? Are you simulating long sections in the aero position or sitting up? Are you transitioning quickly from the bike to the run or hanging around socializing with friends? Are there numerous stops on your ride or are you focused on staying steady on the bike?

On average we train about 16-20 weeks in prep for an Ironman or 70.3. This gives us 12-16 weekends where we can truly simulate all our race day needs. Whether it is the race day breakfast, the dinner prior to a long training day, bike & run nutrition or what we plan to drink. Plenty of weekends to make changes, adjust and fine-tune our strategy on race day in order to execute flawlessly. Plenty of practice opportunities for transitions, wetsuit removal or even eating from a Gel holder while running. Practice, practice, practice until we execute our ‘game day’ flawlessly.

The latest research and studies conclude that what I describe above is called “deliberate practice”. The best people in almost any field are those who devote the most hours to this kind of training. It is activity that’s sole purpose is to improve performance, that reaches just beyond one’s current level of competence and – very important – involves high levels of repetition all while understanding the feedback the results are giving you.

Simply riding a 100 miles and running a few miles after is not deliberate practice. Simply hitting a bucket of balls is not deliberate, nor is quarterback Tom Brady just throwing 50 footballs down field. Riding 80 miles within your prescribed HR zone or wattage, in the aero position, holding a preset cadence, while monitoring hydration and nutrition, as well as how this affects your run after, is deliberate practice. Coming back a week or two later and making adjustments based on your observations and riding that 80 miles again with the goal of improved performance – ever so slightly – is deliberate practice. It’s like hitting an eight-iron 300 times with a goal of leaving the ball within 20 feet of the pin 80% of the time, continually observing results and making adjustments.

The more of this deliberate practice, the more flawless execution becomes.

I hound many of my athletes continuously during the season to practice everything from race day in order to ‘control the things they can control’, because on race day there are always plenty of things out of our control. Flawless execution can only be achieved by having practiced it deliberately numerous times, leaving race day to be very similar to race simulation: just catered!


The New England Patriots are a team of veterans: free agents bought for their experience, skill and understanding of the game. This skill and understanding of the game allows for even more focus in preparation for the games. Having experience allows for an extra level of calmness on the field when events can cause confusion. It’s the classic ‘don’t panic’ approach that the veterans apply differently and therefore remain focused on their assignments, execution and then, the outcome of the game. Experienced athletes like the Patriots actually become more focused and deliberate when they are challenged or their backs are against the wall. This is evidenced by the past few weekends, the Eagles, the Ravens and the Steelers were all out to ‘dethrone’ the perfect Patriots. This changed their mindset going into the game and, despite being challenged, still prevailed.

In triathlon this experience is also crucial to successful race day results. It would be easy to point out that we need to know how Ironman works before being able to deliberately train for it. But experience means so much more. There is a reason why Tim DeBoom and Chris McCormack have had their best Hawaii results after 5-6 attempts: experience and with it the ability to understand what the day brings: don’t panic. For these guys it means staying focused on your own race despite others riding off the front or the swim having not been as good as planned. It means allowing for 26.2 miles to reach the finish line first, not by mile 10 and then fold (DNF). It means remaining calm but focused and concentrating at the task at hand even more.

For those of us that have not won Ironman Hawaii, it means remaining within our day. Experience allows us to understand the highs and lows we all experience during the event – even expecting these highs and lows and shrugging them off. It is knowing that we will reach a point on the bike we no longer want to turn the pedals or eat another morsel, no matter how fit we are or how many times we did this in training! Experience is knowing we hit a lull on the run and need to move to coke as of this point. All of us have our own observations from race day, and despite the best planning & preparation, we also need to display the experience of having been here before and knowing what we will do to get through it and finish!

Once again, control the aspects of race day we can control via deliberate practice and outstanding fitness. But experience allows us to embrace the aspects we can’t control by focusing & concentrating even more on improvingthis performance and its desired outcome.

The conclusions currently being published throughout sports psychology show that we all have a chance to be great. Mainly because we can be great with work, and high-level performances can be achieved with practice and experience.

Now tell that to the other 13 NFL teams that have lost to the New England Patriots….

Original article can be found on

Patriot Perfection: What the New England Patriots can teach Triathletes

Conversation with Rich Roll

I was recently a guest on author and ultra-endurance athlete Rich Roll’s podcast. It was a great chance to talk in depth about integrating the mental game with physical training, and about training as not just race preparation but as the training lifestyle. Have a listen!

Conversation with Rich Roll

Lessons from Kona 2016

For the first time in many years I had the opportunity to watch the race from the sidelines.  It is surely a different perspective, but it also reminded me how many mistakes we make when so caught up in the world of racing.  Standing on the sidelines gives you a perspective of what we overlook when it the midst of the race.

I was able to narrow the race in Kona down to four key factors that great determine the race outcome and the individual results.

All about the run

Kona is all about the right pacing on the bike.  Whether a Pro or Elite Age Grouper (aren’t they all in Kona?), your ability to effectively run off the bike is the entire goal.  It is a delicate balance between biking strong, but not too hard.  It is an understanding that the bike leg is tiring, demanding, but there is an extra tank of fitness awaiting you in T2 in order to run an effective marathon.  It is your maturity and confidence to allow others to push harder than you, knowing that you are looking to race the full 140.6, not just 130-135 miles of it.  Many in the pro field as well as the AG field can bike faster/stronger, but they choose not to since they know their patience on the bike allows them to shine on the run.  Besides the demoralizing effect of going backwards in your placing off the bike, you are also feeding your competitors ability to run better since they recognize your struggles.

This year had an extreme example of this.  Look at 3rd place Patrick Lange running himself from 23rd with a 2:39 marathon.  What kind of confidence must he have had in his run while seeing the gap and his placing grow on the bike?  What kind of math was he doing while seeing the 12 minute deficit coming out of T2?   It was not just a few racers ahead of him, it was 20+ each one he passed he grew more confident and his competitors more nervous about him approaching.  Could he have ridden faster?  I am quite certain he could have.  But instead, in his first full IM race, he chose the humility to have the best possible 140.6 result, and that meant running to his potential.  How confident is he now going into any IM in the world?  Knowing that against the best in the world he can run himself to the front.  He swims well (48) and runs faster than anyone has ever in Kona (!), so now he can gradually, strategically work on his bike strength, approach and pacing.  A textbook approach to joining the world’s best in Kona in your first IM ever!

Even this past weekend in IM 70.3 Hefei China: once again both winners ran themselves to victory.  It is all about the run…

Take a look at the Age Group results:  all show a similar approach.  They could all run.  Despite many of the frustrations in the sport regarding drafting, the best runners still win.  And if you think its that much easier to draft a 112 miles, then try it some time in training: almost always are you riding faster than your fitness, hence the draft is needed, and that effect still drains you, leaves you fatigued etc.  While drafting might save you watts here and there, it is mentally draining, still requires a fair amount of work, and has you pushing at times way harder than you would usually ride on a steady, controlled, efficient 112 miles.  So, you are back to needing to have the best possible run.

Which brings me back to the overall triathlon training & coaching principle:  until you teach yourself in racing how fast you can run, there is no point in riding the bike fast, or nearly as fast as you can.  Until you are seeing the run pacing and splits you see in training, the ones you know you are capable of holding, then any faster AG bike split is a waste of your IM racing progression.  Knowing what you can run, whether a 3:30, 3:15 or even 3:00, is well worth it when it comes to the next IM:  riding the bike with that confidence in your mind.  The performance benefits of moving well at the end of a race are significant – most importantly in your ability to tolerate pain and displaying mental toughness.

How does this apply to your training and racing?  Knowing it is all about the run, means…you need to run… a lot. But this is also a big misconception in the sport:  the need to run a lot of miles or the need to run fast miles.  No – the key to successful IM and Half IM running is:

  • Frequency: gradually, safely and it might take a few seasons to get there. But each season you get faster.  And more importantly:  focus on the running frequency vs. biking and swimming.  If you can only do one, run.
  • Nutritional quality: high quality food = superior performance. There is no other way, especially for handling the running volume.
  • Hills: perform the bulk of your runs in rolling hills to build all around leg strength, especially at this time of year (trails!)
  • Steady State flat running – 1-2x a week we insert steady paced flat running. Leg turnover, economy of motion, technique and mental focus.
  • The proper fatigue:  remember the keys to a superior run leg: we want the majority of our fatigue to come from sessions that directly impact overall race performance. This means outstanding race specific cycling muscular endurance.  You want to access your existing run fitness.

Since most athlete are running so far below their existing run fitness, our goal is to improve overall endurance (best trained on the bike) and durability (best trained with run frequency)…

Know your strategy

It’s your 140.6, so don’t let anyone take your strategy from you.  In Kona you can see the best athletes are focused on their own race.  Frodeno?  Never sniffed too much wind on the bike, he knew what the others can do, what he needs to do, and stuck with it.  Rinny?  No panic – just run when the time comes – get to T2 well, and then go!  Elite AGers? Race your splits/wattages/paces/efforts and then see what needs to be done with 10 miles to go on the run.  “If I stick my plan until 130.6, I’ll be having a great day.  Then, I will evaluate the situation and see placing vs. effort vs. current body scan”.  You are almost guaranteed success at this point.

Drafting and others racing should not influence your race strategy.  The strongest emotions of the day come within seconds of crossing the finish line.  How did I race?  Did I give it my all?  Did I execute my plan?  Did I race to the best of my ability today, given my fitness, the circumstances etc.?  If yes to all this, then you are most always happy with your race result and the progression you are making as an athlete.

Focusing on others, getting sucked into another’s race or being distracted from yours, means you are risking months of training for a race with people you don’t know.  You don’t know what they are capable of, how they race, what their fitness is as well as the mistakes they are currently making.

Training Principle:  Focus on your training plan.  A long training day on the weekends is filled with distractions:  Friends and other riders.  Multiple places to stop.  The terrain might not be ideal.  Training days are great for executing your plan despite adversity & distractions.  Let others come along on your day.  Let others ride along your intervals.  Eat your fuel and drink your hydration on your schedule.  Execute your training on the terrain for your day.  It’s your training day.  Own it.

Control the chaos

In Kona there a so many inputs.  Despite having the best intentions to race your own race, execute your plan, and run well off the bike, it’s a long day of chaos.  Incredibly fast racers, hot temperatures, constantly shifting winds and then throw in nerves, the finality of the race and intentions to do well.

When watching the best in Kona, those with the best results all controlled the chaos around them on the day.  Control the chaos.  Understand things will go wrong.  Brace for things being more difficult than planned.  Realize the your fellow competitors are capable of racing well too, as they are just as focused and prepared as you.  Use temperatures and environment to your advantage since it creates challenges and difficulties for all.  The best in Kona also deconstruct their race prior:  whether via visualization of the race, detachment exercises and segmenting their day in to multiple stages of successful results.

Training principles:  create chaos in your training and simulation days.  Ride too hard, run too hard early off the bike, ride with others that ride too hard for you, have others draft off you & properly annoy you, choose a harder course and then run off the bike, ride into windy conditions on purpose.  Start early when its too cold; start midday when its too hot; practice getting flats; practice being stuck in one gear; race Olympic and half IMs with the intent to blow up yet continue on; create high stakes around a local race so that you can simulate nerves (i.e. post your desired best outcome on social media PRIOR to the race or bet someone a big dinner, wine etc. regarding the result).  Create chaos – internally as well as externally.

The only thing I would avoid practicing chaos?  Nutrition and hydration.  That is not something to create chaos around.  This is something to narrow the focus and perfect.

There are many ways to train chaos.

Bike Setup

This might seem like a no brainer but it is ridiculously clear in Kona.  Not only have I learned from my own mistakes and understanding with this, but the front of the field in Kona has a glaring lesson:  bike setup is critical.

We all know the basic principles of being aero, but it becomes so much more exposed in Kona.  Not only can one observe hundreds (!) of athletes sitting up on their $12,000 aero bike, completely exposed to the wind, but the most important lesson was how relaxed, efficient and focused the best athletes in Kona were on the bike.  Their ability to not only cut through the wind in a superior position & setup, but remaining aero for 95% of the course despite its difficulties, remaining relaxed while still pushing significant wattages at the front, staying focused in their cadence, race positioning all while conserving as much energy as they can.  The ability to ride fast, while conserving energy is the key to a good run.  Only a bike setup that allows you to stay COMFORTABLY in the aero position for 5+ hours, WHILE still maintaining the wattage range you intended will allow you to achieve this.

A good aero position with allow you to ride lower watts but with the same bike split (or faster) in mind.  A good set up will allow you to save even more time/watts as you integrate wheels, clothing, helmet and bottle placement.

The key lesson from Kona here?  The front of the pack is focused meticulously on their set up.

Training Principle:  A great bike fit helps, but you must must must be relaxed and efficient in it.  It might be great in the wind tunnel, but if you can’t hold it for 105 of the 112 miles, fuhgetaboutit. So therefore – we must train it – every so gradually.  It might be frustrating seeing some lower wattage numbers, but without starting aero, relaxed and efficient in your pedal stroke, you will not see the gains of being in an aero position.  Every minute in an IM bike leg where you are not aero costs you 2 minutes vs. had you been aero for that minute.  2 minutes!  String that together over 5 hours, think how many times you sit up.  This takes into account not only the drag by not being aero, but how long it takes to get back to an efficient, relaxed aero position; how sitting up effects cadence, motivation, as well as many times athletes stand up and sort of stretch out their back and legs.  The later in the bike leg this happens, the longer the transition time is to going back to an aero, relaxed, efficient position…

Therefore seeing lower wattage numbers is no big deal since you are staying in the aero position.  Imagine now if you train relaxed, efficient and focused, seeing the wattages gradually increase over your training phase, that is pure speed AND time savings.

This is a great time of year to work on this.  Outside staying aero.  On the trainer indoors staying aero.  Turn off the lights and feel yourself relaxing into your aero position without focusing on watts, only feel and clean, efficient pedaling.

If you can remember these four factors as you go into the next Ironman season, you are certain to have significant race day improvements.  How can you not?  A better run, a better focus on your own race strategy, a better ability to deal with the chaos and adversity of the day and a better bike set up…each one will buy you time.  Put them all together and they might buy you a PR.




Lessons from Kona 2016

Lessons from Rio

Racing well, racing fast & executing a set race day plan is fun.  We just observed 17 days of it in Rio.  Its what athletes worked hard for – so it should feel great and we surely saw those emotions on display!

But as we all know – beyond all the joy of the Olympics and the incredible athletic achievements, there are plenty of challenges.  Many athletes struggle to break through to that next level.  Whether you have now graduated to racing your event vs. just finishing, all the way to qualifying for something like the Olympics, Kona or Boston – it is always about progress and moving forward – to that next level.  Often just executing a successful day with all the little details (like no walking aid stations, avoiding too many calories, controlling the pace during the first half of the race or faster transitions) is a struggle for many come ‘the day’.  What does it take?  How can you take that next big step forward?  What will it take to get that next big break through?

For many endurance athletes its all about the mental approach they bring to their sport.  Whether triathlete, ultra-runner/swimmer, or any ultra endurance endeavors:  the mental approach is a huge untapped potential.  Key word here is approach.  It’s a mindset.  It is a set approach to how you, as an elite athlete, go about your day of training (Please remember: being an elite athlete does not require elite results.  Being an elite athlete is about how you approach your sport: you can match the focus, diligence, consistency and daily awareness that World Champions bring to their sport despite being a complete beginner. It’s a mindset!).

Some of the best athletes in the world have a few things in common – whether sprinters that race for a whopping 9-ish seconds or solo sailors out alone on the oceans for weeks on end.  We have all seen great athletes this week and so it is a good refresher what they all – across all playing fields – seem to have in common.

  1. All great athletes understand that ‘greatness’ is something that has to happen daily.  It means taking small definitive steps daily in their focus on excellence or diligence.  John Wooden used to teach even the best basketball players coming in to his program on Day 1 how to tie their laces.  It sounds ridiculous, but attention to detail and doing it right, by habit/routine is a common trait all great athletes have.  It’s the little details that add up to a great result.  So many weekend warriors have a great occasional workout.  But in order to achieve their best, a great athlete understands the great workout needs to be a daily norm, not the exception.  Focused training equals focused racing.  And focused racing means executing a successful day.  (The hidden benefit here is progression as well: what was a great workout now becomes the norm and elevates your definition of a great workout to an even higher standard!)
  2. All great athletes have a deep connectivity and purpose as to why they are doing their sport.  While many athletes focus and repeat good habits (recovery, nutrition, body work and technique), the best of the best have a deeper reason for being so engaged in the sport.  It’s a sense of mission, its that little extra when the days are tough, when the workouts suck.  Its a deep conviction that there is no quit, no matter what the consequences.  This doesn’t mean your training is dedicated to you grandmother or that you are raising awareness to a cause.  It’s a deep down set of values and reason as to why they will see it through.  ‘It might not be today or this year but I will succeed’…
  3. Patience – Great athletes – in all sports – are in it for the long haul.  It is a common thing in endurance sports for participants to do one or two events and then check it off their list of cool things to do. I have found this is indicative in many cases how they always did sports or in other aspects of their lives.  Great athletes understand that hard work today (while valuable) doesn’t necessarily mean results tomorrow – or next month etc.  Every year I coach busy working athletes that bust out 5-6 weeks of great workouts and then are discouraged when they don’t suddenly PR their next event.  Especially in ultra endurance events: there is no such thing as overnight success.  It’s a gradual, slow progress.  It requires discipline, diligence, humility and perseverance.  And luckily it does as it is what makes a great result even more rewarding a deeply satisfying.  The long haul approach is also what will separate you from the rest of your competition/peers.
  4. All great athletes seem to also understand the simple beauty in what it takes to be fast/successful/achieve the desired result: that hard work, consistency and focus can’t be faked, there is no short cut through this.  Daily deliberate training sounds so easy to say/write, but we all know its not.  It’s actually quite funny how simple their approach is.  We all know athletes that try the quick approach to success, try to hack the system, but we also don’t see them at the top, especially not in ultra endurance sports.  The sports in the ultra world are hard, and for anyone looking for a shortcut to success is quickly exposed over the long distances.  Nothing, absolutely nothing can hack into fitness: true, deep, aerobic fitness…Pay your dues every day, and your ROI will not only be results but satisfaction in knowing you did it the right way: Daily deliberate training.
  5. Failure.  All great athletes have failed.  It’s a part of every path that leads to the top.  Those stumbles, those DNFs, those races where walking was the majority of the ‘run’, those injuries, those bad workouts all help great athletes stay on track.  Failure reminds us what we are working for, why we are working for it.  Overcoming obstacles makes us stronger – helps us realize that the path is littered with challenges.  The path to great results must be hard, hence why it is such a rewarding, valuable, delicate path!  It brings out our true emotions to why sport is important to us.  Failure narrows our focus again on what our goals are.  Failure also motivates great athletes:  the “come back stronger” sensations are incredibly powerful.  If it were easy to achieve our desired results, then all this work is not very inspiring.  If it just took a little focus, a little desire, a little extra push to reach our goals, that would make the result less valuable.  Embrace the suck as someone has been know to say.  Understand that overcoming the obstacle is the entire point of it all.

Lessons from Rio

The Long Run – Week # 3

Distance: 33.5 miles
Time: 5:28
Pace: 9:54
Elevation Gain: 4140ft – although getting ready for a race that is 25,000+ ft of elevation gain…
Drink: 80 oz in bladder – water 1x GU Roctane Drink. 1 solid drink at water fountain = 110oz (cooler temps today – fog until noon)
Food: Nature Valley Granola bar & ClifBar. 1 pack Chomps, , Clif Oatmeal squeeze, Justins Hazelnut Almond Butter Packet = 900 cals (plus some in Roctane drink)
Breakfast: 5 eggs, 3 cups of chard, spinach & kale mix, sprouted wheat bagel with butter. 18oz of water, 12oz of coffee
Podcasts: The WSJ What’s News, TrailRunner Podcast, TED Radio Hour, Freakonomics Radio
AudioBook: Extreme Ownership: Leadership Lessons from a Navy Seal. Chapter 1-3

Observations: I got sick after the last long run 12 days ago. I knew something was wrong given my exhaustion from that 50k. I ended up not training for 3 days – although the first day I did an easy indoor cycling class that I teach. The following 2 days I was wrecked: head cold, and the completely congested lungs. After 60 hrs of rest I was able to fight through an easy hour run while hacking quite nicely. But this also kept me off my legs for 3 days, and it forced me to truly rest, sleep and recover. Last week was ‘supposed to be a recovery week, but due to the sickness and a weekend completely off, and gradually built into the week and ran 25 miles on Thursday. I felt 85% healthy but also felt way better than the previous long run. Heading out today I felt good, and things stayed quite connected until mile 22/23. I hope to get to a point where I can run the first 30 in my event while connected, relaxed and not really focused yet: just fueling and hydrating for the hard miles ahead. The bladder worked a little better for drinking than bottles, but am surprised I drank less. I assume that running with a bottle keeps my drinking more than a tube coming out of my pack. Calories were fine as well, although if I were to run longer – I need to eat more in the last hour. As we all know – when we are close to being done, we look forward to eating real food at home. I paid attention to stoppage time today: took a break every 10 miles to get some real food and drink in me. Check in with the world, and head into the next 10 miles with fuel, focus and hydration…

Goal of workout: Since I ran 25 on Thursday, and then a bit over the weekend, the goal is now to start compressing the time of 100 miles in a certain amount of days. Look like I am currently on pace for 7-8 days. That is plenty for early June. Later this month I will compress this to 6-ish days. While that is not a lot of mileage in the UltraRunning community, I still have July and August to go and I still maintain a solid 12-14,000 yds of swimming per week and a fair amount of cycling. The goal today was twofold: 1) feel better than the last 50k – 2) improve how I run the 50k. I know what I want to feel like at certain parts of the day. I like the ability to wake up, eat, answer some emails, run 30+ miles, come home, eat, and answer some more emails/work etc. It is not the same as cycling – 5.5 hrs is a solid day – but does not leave the legs pounded like 5.5 hours of running.

What I learned today: More fats and more fats. I need to start my morning with slightly less carbs and a bit more fats. Mainly since these runs are so low HR, its all fat burning (60-70%!) – so while carbs are surely needed (this 1600 calories in glycogen deplete as well despite the low HR/aerobic effort) – I need to start bringing some healthier fats with me (real food: avocado on bread, nut butter packets etc.). Continue to up the drink. 20oz of fluid per hour worked today, but if temps were higher it would have been a nono…Learned about the first DQ at Western States – despite him finishing first…and it was an interesting perspective since I am friends with the guy who ended up the winner that year (2006).

Commentary: Best long run so far in this build. I have a nagging ankle issue – I rolled/ripped/did something weird back on Thanksgiving of last year – and despite a solid marathon build up for Boston, it now is tightening up at 20ish miles. Will need to monitor closely. Stoppage time was 30 min today – but that too is part of Ultra training. Chill out….

Next long run? Next week I might look for 40, but let’s see how the body is feeling. No rush. Maybe an overnight in Tahoe next week in order to get some altitude in.

The Long Run – Week # 3

#TBT – Endurance Fueling

An older article I wrote for a European Triathlon Magazine, but worth the read.  Not only for those of you as a reminder – but for many of you new to my coaching and consulting.

Endurance racing comes down to a simple ingredient called carbohydrates.  Yes – carbs, those evil calories that the rest of the world seems to hate – we need desperately in endurance events to fuel our brains and allow us to push our effort in many sections of any endurance race.

We all know we have plenty of fat in our body to run 100s of miles, cycling 100s of miles and swim…well, that’s different – but you get the point.  But as many of you have heard me say – we only have about 20 miles of running in us based off the carbs stored in our liver and muscles.  That’s apporx. 2000 cals.  Figure most ‘endurance events’ are more than 8-10 hrs, and those require a minimum of 7000-8000 cals.

Now throw in this annoying fact that you have also heard me say: we can only absorb max 350 cals per hour in carbs.  Most of the time its way less than that…closer to 250 cals per hour.  Yet – as many of you have seen on your power meters or garmin watches, that your burn rate on endurance races is way higher – like 600-1000 cals per hour!  Simple math shows you that we are running at a deficit of about 300-600 cals PER HOUR!  Now, most of you know from testing, that if the pace is relatively slow, or if you have developed a good fat burning engine, one where you can hold about 80% of T2 (LT, AeT) without activating your anaerobic energy system, then you COULD get half your energy from stored fat, half from carbs…So – doing that math again, its brings us quite close to equal balanced energy BURN and energy FUEL needed.  Even sum game that allows for steady pace/effort/output for quite a long time!  This can be trained very effectively by developing a fantastic aerobic energy system.

Mess around with this balance too much and things get complicated.  Surges in effort, standing while pushing over a roller, running uphill too hard, swimming too fast for a bit, anything where the HR/effort jumps quickly, then Carbs become the dominant fuel, and because of ancient adrenal system functions, this causes your fat burning ability to slow way down for…..hours!  Even if you slow down, or dial back the HR dramatically, because of the adrenal response, the body will not return to ‘par’ for a while.  (Have you ever ridden harder in a group ride, seeing watts way higher than you ever train…and feel really good?  And want to just keep riding like that – and you can??!  That is all carb pushing through you – and a few hrs later you are dozing off on the couch….instead of running a marathon…)

As you can see – your harder effort too early in the day – in ANY endurance event (over 5 hrs) means that your fuel source will run out.  Your harder effort comes at the cost of burning through those carbs way too quickly without being able to replace/replenish them.  By going too hard – even for shorter periods only – you are shutting down your fat burning as a fuel source…and that means at some point in your later stages of your event, the deficit of output to input will be too big…and you are walking, hiking, stopping or slowing down considerably.

Keep this in mind when racing your endurance event in the future.  Can you go faster?  Sure.  But at some point your run out of fuel, literally…and you slow down.  Instead, as many of you have also heard me say/preach:  go as FAST as you can, using the LEAST amount of energy…Energy being burn rate of fuel…

#TBT – Endurance Fueling

The Long Run: Weekly post #2


Oh – yes – I get to play on some wonderful trails every day!

Distance: 30 miles
Time: 4:56
Pace: 9:55
Elevation Gain: 3720ft
Drink: 5 bottles, 22oz each. 4x water, 1x GU Roctane Drink. 1 solid drink at water fountain = 120oz
Food: PeanutButter filled pretzels & ClifBar. Chomps, 1/2 pack, and Roctane Gel late = 700 cals (plus some in Roctane drink)
Breakfast: 4 cups of oatmeal, banana slices and strawberries. 16oz of water, 20oz of coffee
Podcasts: This Morning with Gordon Deal, The WSJ What’s News, TED Radio Hour: The Meaning of Work, radio-Wissen (German Podcast), Planet Money, HBR IdeaCast: Be a work/life Friendly Boss
AudioBook: Rise of Superman – Chapter 6 & 7

Observations: gorgeous morning in Marin. Out the door at 8:30am. New gear (shorts and pack) worked well but need to tweak some pack things. Felt great, cool temps until 10 miles in. Should have eaten more early on – and when planning 4+ hr runs, I need to pack foods that address morning and lunch interests, vs. just one type of food (Bars etc.). Felt energy lull around 16, held on to steady feeling until about 20. 20 miles seems to be the current mark of switching from running to ultra running: which means different stride, slower pace, settling in to an all day affair. Important in ultra running as well is the achiness and lower energy is where the training day actually begins. Not physically, but mentally. Stopped at 23 for a moment, bit wrecked. 3-4 min later was ready to go. Important in this sport as well? Being in no hurry. Body definitely hurt more this week from 24-30…those are the ‘new’ miles – the extension as I like to call it.

Goal of workout: gradually building miles on long run. This week minimum goal was 10% more than last week but an eye towards 50k. First 90 min is all up, so effort level and energy drain is there. While goal of 50k in May was achieved, the goal of feeling connected and controlled was not.

The Long Run: Weekly post #2

The Long Run – weekly post #1

During my training for Kona I captured some of the big training weeks in a blog. I don’t have the time nor is it nearly that interesting in running as I prep for the Wasatch 100 mile endurance run. BUT, as I am constantly reminded by my clients and friends, there is always some tidbit of information that is worthwhile sharing in the longer training days. This past weekends’ IM TX downloads once again highlighted the need to repeat the fueling and hydration needed for ultra endurance events on a hot day. Actually, any day. Combine this with the amount of work, training time, energy and thought processes that go into prep for an ultra endurance event – it is highly frustrating for athlete & coach to see things derailed by components of the day that CAN be controlled – like hydration & fueling as well as body scans, observations, emotional control and process management.

So, as I go into this next build up in training for my longest event ever (100 miler two years ago in Texas was fairly flat – so those 17ish hours will be maybe the 75 mile mark in this event) – I thought I’d share the inputs from my weekly long runs. These will build up to 8-10hr runs, so a valid input for ultra endurance training. And no, this is not some Strava noise of what I did and how fast – its more about how I went about it and why.

I started my build 2 weeks ago, and with 16 weeks to go, today I am at a 3.5 hr long run point. I have had a spring of road miles getting ready for my first Boston marathon, so I do have a fair amount of running consistency in me – but as any ultra runner will tell you, road running and trail running are not the same sports. Same motions, but different sports. Sorta like mountain biking and road racing. Any ways – week one was a 2.5 hour run that got cut short into 2:15, and week 2 was a 3 hour run that got cut short to 2:45…why? Because life got in the way.

So – here the format that will always include these bolded points:

Distance: 22.8 miles
Time: 3:31
Pace: 9:18
Elevation Gain: 2600ft
Drink: 3 bottles 20oz each. 2x water, 1x GU Roctane Drink. 1 solid drink at water fountain = 68oz
Food: ClifBar at 1.5hrs. Chomps, 1/2 pack, at 2.5hrs = 340 cals (plus some in Roctane drink)
Breakfast: 4 slices of whole wheat toast, fancy european butter, blueberry jam. Banana, 3 cups of coffee, 16 oz of water
Podcasts: The Dan Patrick Show Hours 1 & 2, This Morning with Gordon Deal, A State of Trance Podcast with Armin van Buren, HBR Ideacast: Let Employees be People.

Observations: out the door once back from dropping kids at school. Have short window as I need to be back by 12:15 for lunch at son’s school. Felt good until 3 hrs, then right foot/ankle started getting quite tight and achy. Stiff, not painful. Temps are good, body is alert, connected throughout. Form stays attached until that 3hr mark when things get achy/stiff. Downs felt good – no soreness. Ups I hiked mainly. Avg pace still too fast for when runs go over 30 miles, but rest from running yesterday allowed for fresher legs.

Goal of workout: gradually building miles on long run. This week minimum goal was 20 miles. As of 3 hrs in Marin you get some solid terrain/climbing in, so the long run is a valid build component for the training week.

What I learned today: Need a bit more water. Breakfast was a bit too small for anything longer than 90 minutes. Rex Chapman once scored 39 points on Jordan. There is no such thing as a girl skateboard.

Commentary: Build is working. Very gradual and slow – but still have little under 4 months. My goal for this build is to not hit big miles until needed, and running more than 100 miles a week will not happen until mid summer. This build will only have one peak, 100 mile weekend in a 40hr window. Goal is to close out May with a controlled 50k in my regular training week (10-12k of swimming and 100-125 miles of cycling). Will have time for that next week. Then I plan a lighter recovery week of multiple 2 hr runs.

As I progress into these long runs, hopefully you get some value out of these posts…

The Long Run – weekly post #1

Some good insight

I wanted to share some solid insight from this power file from the Paris Roubaix winner this year. First – click here to take a look at the file yourself in a more raw format. But below is also how I look at the data with regards to fitness and aerobic capacity.

What I wanted to highlight was a few points:

  1. Power to HR ratio (1st graph below). As many of you have heard me say – a great indicator of our fitness is your ability to maintain watts/HR ratio for most of your rides. That means the range of your watts and of your HR stay consistent throughout a 4-6 hrs ride. If early on your averaged X watts for 30 min and late in the ride you avg similar watts at the same HR…awesome. Very little fatigue and drift. Most of us do not have this fitness. Late in the ride our watts may be the same – but the HR is way higher. OR if riding on HR – the watts later in the ride are way lower. Given that Mathew Hayman is racing, and trying to win, it is really amazing to see how ‘in control’ he was of effort to HR throughout his ride. Early on you can see he was riding within the groups as his wattage and HR are quite choppy. But once he settles in to racing and his strategy/group – it stays quite steady in ratio to each other.
  2. Please notice his cadence (2nd graph below). Not only does he average 87 for 160 miles….! But it says in very close relationship to his HR. Another sign of control and fitness. Also please notice how Normalized Power (347) and avg power (302) are quite far off. This means there was a) a lot of coasting b) some incredibly high wattage spikes (1100+ watts a few times…!) Peak 1 min is 660w, Peak 20 sec is almost 1000w! Despite these efforts, he still maintain HR control and still averaged 87 cadence…
  3. Notice that these are just the last 110 miles of 160. The first 50 are chill roll out miles in the peloton. But it is still 50 miles (2 hrs) of cycling prior…so fuel, and hydration and conserving energy are key.
  4. 6700 kj in 6 hrs…he needs to eat about 2000 calories…just in this back end…so his first 50 miles were truly that…fueling and prepping. In pro cycling you can’t just grab a bar from the bento box during an attack..or breakaway..!
Graph 1: Power to HR Ratio

Graph 1: Power to HR Ratio

Graph 2: Cadence

Graph 2: Cadence


What does this mean for your training? We want to be able to maintain this type of aerobic balance between solid power and HR control. Especially when racing, and needing to run off the bike, if we ride in a ratio that maintains balance between HR and watts, the running energy levels and speed will still be available.

As we head out on long rides and the weather turns to summer, be aware of this ratio. Ask yourself if there is a wattage that you can ride whereby your HR stays steady throughout. Or, how far do the two drift apart. Most of you cannot, and why I want you to start easier, or ride on feel more often!

For those of you without power: notice how your cadence and HR stay in line. Since we know that power = force x speed (cadence), keeping your cadence steady, relatively high, means your watts will most likely be showing higher. The great part about good cadence control for all of us is: because higher cadence early on in the ride nets lower watts, it keeps us in good balance throughout – late in the ride that wattage will stay somewhat in range…Try it!

As always – please let me know of questions. I hope this helps you see some interesting power/cadence/HR ratios.

Some good insight

Better than Yesterday

Although the heart of the racing season is approaching, it still seems quite far off.  It is these weeks in March and April that truly set you up for the summer.  It is also during these weeks, since you did a better job through the winter, that you can propel ahead of where you were last year – or in years prior. But too often, despite the days getting longer and the weather gradually turning, athletes often lose their perspective and motivation for the season that lies just ahead.

I receive daily workout updates and emails from athletes that either missed workouts, couldn’t stay motivated, have too much going on, or are even a little burnt out from pushing themselves mentally too early in the season.  Where once the athlete was filled with inspiration and pumped (!) to train for the next season, there is now lack of perspective regarding improvement, the doubt on how to get it all done, even frustration with the training plan.  The common theme in all these emails & updates is the difficulty to sustain motivation.

Somehow, when the event is right around the corner, life doesn’t get in the way, schedules clear up and the excuses fade from the training logs.  The athlete is filled with inspiration and focused to execute each session effectively.  Yet it is those events, the ‘A’ races, which end up also being the problem.  As we try to remain focused on the big event, our season highlight, we end up feeling overwhelmed. The amount of work between now and then is so large that it leaves us paralyzed.

Consistent, daily motivation & inspiration isn’t about the final result though.  True motivation, the kind that replenishes itself daily, lies in that simple concept I repeat so often: progression.  Of course your long-term goals are important, and they act like a North Star as you navigate through a season of competing and training, but the daily jolt you need comes in the form of progression.

Be a little better, just a tiny bit, than yesterday:

If you can focus on just one thing (in life actually…), it is being a bit better today, than yesterday.  When you get on your bike today, lace up the running shoes, or dive into the pool today, don’t think about your ‘A’ race.  Think about how you will be just a bit better than yesterday.  That’s all.  If you achieve this, you are not only a better athlete, but also one step closer to your goals for the ‘A’ race.  But the beauty in focusing only on being a better YOU, not a better athlete, faster, stronger etc., is that it simplifies the daily fun & motivation into it being just about you.  Just being a better you than yesterday.  You warmed up better, your prepped better for the workout, you fueled better, you hydrated better, you focused on recovery better, you were more engaged during the workout, you understood the workout better, you filled out your log better for your coach (!?) etc.  All and any of these things make you a better athlete than yesterday.  Not always a new personal best in the pool, highest avg. wattage or best running pace…but instead a better YOU.

Why?  Small, easily digestible improvements work so well.  Being better than yesterday allows for many little improvements to be made and allowing yourself to be successful.  How you are going to drop the avg. pace on your run by x:xx seems daunting, but being a second here or there faster than yesterday is doable.  This will help you move forward with positive momentum vs. the overwhelming feeling of how far you still need to go.  Better than yesterday…

Better than yesterday also allows you to focus on the process, it forces you to be in the present.  It requires you to pay attention in your workouts: “what am I doing now, today, that is better than yesterday?”  You never want to miss the opportunity, even if oh so small, to do things better.  Being a process-oriented athlete will inevitably create an environment for you to be an even better athlete.  In many ways, you are now behaving and approaching your training like an elite athlete: being better than yesterday…that is often all they focus on.

Better than yesterday also peaks our curiosity (and therefore motivation).  Can I?  How will I be better than yesterday?  Think ahead and prepare for that improvement.  And repeat the next day…can I be better?  Yes!  Only a little bit, but I AM BETTER.  Repeat.

Be creative with your daily dose of improvement too.  Eat better, arrive earlier, practice the mental game for your workout, maybe push one set harder than ever before, try warming down.  Any and all of these things can help answer the simple question:  Am I better today than yesterday?



Better than Yesterday

Weekly Word: The Coaching Syllabus (re-post)

Note: I am re-posting this from Nov. 13, 2013 since I feel it still applies quite well and helps many of my newer athletes understand the training a bit better. -Chris

Every year when athletes inquire with me on being coached, I get a typical question: how do you go about your coaching? Can you give me training samples or what a typical week looks like? After coaching for 15 years now, I do think a lot of it is based on feel, intangibles and learning from previous years, plans, personal experience. BUT – I also strongly believe that coaches are educators – we help you learn, understand, embrace the training and plan that should lead you towards your goals. I have also come to learn that every teacher needs a syllabus for their school year – some basic principles by which they can format their teaching with. I have started this with my coaching over the past few years.

Many athletes might think that this means the same format year after year. But as most of my long term athletes can tell you – my coaching plans and training approach never repeats itself. The concepts of adaptation and stimulus might, but not the specific training needed to bring about the adaptation. Every year is different, but the road map rarely changes.

Let me remind you of my core mission as a coach to you: I am looking to coach you with a plan that allows you to train effectively enough (time available) to stimulate the appropriate adaptation (progression applicable to you towards your goals). Key words: enough and appropriate

Important is to also understand that this is a very general road map, but it allows me to time your season properly, stay within the phases, and build mini training plans within each phase. It also allows me to take your feedback, races and testing data and keep them in line with our timing towards that ‘A’ race. Sometimes its too late to address a specific need, so we place that need into the next syllabus…

The Road Map: We basically need 25 weeks. If you had all the flexibility of time without work, family, personal life as well as health and recovery getting in the way: 25 weeks is ideal. It follows a simple pyramid growth:

a. 8 weeks to apply the correct Z2 platform of aerobic base with 2 recovery weeks built in
b. 6 weeks to start incorporating Z3 and tempo work with 2 recovery weeks built in
c. 4 weeks for race specific steady state and race pace interval work with 1 recovery week built in
d. 2 weeks to taper and sharpen the blade

Looks quite simple right? Lets break it down a bit more:

Z2 platform: important is to come in with a solid base and the proper testing to truly apply 8 great weeks in a very tight range of watts/HR in order to maximize the Z2 aerobic platform. This is the first piece where individuality comes in: some need more weeks than others PRIOR to these 8 weeks. Those of you working with me for a season or two usually hit this within 4 weeks. Newer athletes usually require 6 weeks just to shift their energy systems to feel and understand Z2 aerobic work. Its hard to give me the feedback needed in the logs without knowing what Z2 aerobic training actually should feel like. Again: 8 weeks of aerobic Z2 work in order to stimulate the appropriate adaptation. What is enough coming in varies for all of you.

Z3 and tempo: Here is where things really become individual: The testing validates how much Z3/tempo work we will want to sprinkle in and your personal limiters help determine which discipline requires some extra attention: swimming, biking or running? Where to focus more time – what is our limiter in races? How much Z3 work, what format (cadence vs. muscular power?) – what is your appropriate adaptation – do you historically respond better to quality or quantity? The syllabus calls for about 60% still Z2 aerobic work in this phase – and 40% at Z3 tempo. So on a 16hr training week, that means 6.5 hrs of your week are Z3 tempo intervals or paces! Solid training!

Race Specific steady state and race pace intervals: even more individual training plans here: IM, HIM? Oly distance? Ultra running? Race course dynamics or profile? Temperatures (6-8 weeks out is when you want to start heat or altitude work etc.) – Depending on distance and limiters – now the ratios also change: 50% Z2? 50% Z3+ Z4? Or still 60/40? Or for IM, maybe 70/30 but the testing and your fitness gains make the aerobic work quite hard due to volume etc.

And finally resting/tapering: what works for you? How do you absorb the last phase as well as can you hold form until race day? How do we keep you sharp yet not tired?

As you can see – as your season advances, your plan becomes so much more individual and specific to you. Yet the most important ingredient for this entire syllabus is missing: your input and feedback. As we move through the season, your insights, observations, feedback, notes, and complaints are vital to make this plan effective. In order to train effectively enough to stimulate the appropriate adaptation, I need to hear from you, I need to validate our training with testing, and we need to apply in the real world of racing. This constant exchange of coaching and feedback keeps the syllabus applicable to you and allows for true progression: am I better today than yesterday? Why? Because the coach/athlete feedback loop is constantly being applied to tomorrows training plan.

And finally – what makes this syllabus change year over year, from athlete to athlete, is what I call Wedge Weeks. If we follow the weeks listed in the syllabus above, then the season starts about 30 weeks out from the A race (4-5 weeks to enter with the right platform plus the 25 weeks listed). Wedge weeks are what makes this training plan a realistic one: Wedge weeks are weeks inserted into those 30 weeks at any point in time due to injury, sickness, extra rest needed or life/family events. Any one of these reasons might require the plan to be delayed for a week or two. Work travel or a project overwhelming? Wedge Week…Sickness? Wedge Week. Family overwhelmed or Holidays? Wedge Week. Friend getting married in Bora Bora? Wedge Week.

Most of us went Pro in something other than the sport were are training for, which means we have plenty of Wedge Weeks (Pros have Wedge Weeks too!). On average, I see about 6 a season…Now, the plan is 36 weeks…That means if you start this next week, your ‘A’ race is the first week of August…


Weekly Word: The Coaching Syllabus (re-post)

Four Questions to start your 2016 season

As we enter into the 2015 Holiday season, it means 2016 is quickly approaching, and with it comes a fresh new start.  No matter how you did this past season, whether you totally exceeded your goals or came up a little short, you start with clean sheet into your next season.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself that will help you enter 2016 with the right mindset.


What kind of athlete do I want to be?

Its easy to point at a season end goal – winning my AG, qualifying for Kona, finishing to a new PR, successfully running a 100 miles – and think how great it will feel to be THAT athlete.  Breaking news:  you don’t need to wait to cross that finish line to be that kind of athlete.  You don’t become a consistently hard worker after you achieve your goals.  It’s something that you are.  Think about the athlete you want to be next season, and apply it – be it – live it – on a daily basis.


What is the biggest thing I can improve this coming season?

It’s easy to understand how athletes become a little overwhelmed at the beginning of the season when they think of all the hard work to come.  Thinking about all the things we need to improve in order to achieve our goals can leave us feeling a little like we are being sucked along in a rip current.  This year, pick one thing you know will have the most impact on your results.  It could be managing your time better, hitting 100% of your swimming sessions, not forgetting running drills, or nailing your nutrition, either in training as prep for race day or your daily fruits & vegetables.  Pick one thing and do it supremely well.  A nice added bonus is that the attention to detail will soon infect other parts of your swimming, biking and running:  strength, swimming, drills, nutrition, etc.


What will I do each day to be a little bit better?

Success in the long term isn’t the result of one big moment.  It’s the steady application of marginal and incremental gains, of showing up each day and doing it a little bit better.  You don’t need to be perfect in practice every single day, but you should absolutely try to be just a little bit better than you were yesterday.  Progress, not perfection…


Why not?

We all have secret dreams of what we would like to achieve during our time doing these crazy endurance sports.  Why sabotage yourself right out of the gate by limiting your opportunities to see what you are capable of?  You are just as deserving of success in what you are doing as anyone else, so chase those big, moderately-crazy goals with excitement and confidence this next season!  Remember…moderately crazy..not unrealistic crazy…!

Four Questions to start your 2016 season

Kona 2015 Race Report (long!)

kona podium


Certainty is the confidence in our belief…

It was a good year.  I knew I was fit.  I had created a great summer.  I had the classic feelings of “it’s all been worth it, no matter how race day goes”…. I had kept the training exciting with different locations, done all the training I wanted to do.  Trained primarily with friends.  Never hit that point in the build of being exhausted, gotta get through it.  I was actually surprised a few times how good I was feeling despite the volume.  I was healthy – I was absorbing.  It was a good year.

I had learned some things in CDA. I had a chance to race harder at Vineman.  I had the season unfolding just the way I had planned it, envisioned it.  I just needed to get to Hawaii and race.  Just go do…Its always so much easier on paper – or when not in the race..Just go do..Duh!  But I knew I was ready.  I knew it was a good year.  And, most importantly (to me), I knew that there was not more I could have possibly done this season to prepare for Kona.

I prepped my gear better, I dialed in my aero position better than past years, I adjusted my calories to a new amount, and I had trained it.  Trained ALL of it.  No more excuses for me.  I wanted those 162 seconds back that I missed last year.  I was not going to have gear, fuel, or free speed from a better aero position be a reason.  I am going to control the things I CAN control on race day.


The Race: 

Woke up that morning, good breakfast and no real issues to eat all I needed to get down.  Plenty of oatmeal with milk, banana, peanut butter and a bit of honey.  Couple of sips of coffee, and of course, the PreLoad in prep for a hot, strenuous day.  Couple of sips of water, and soon we were getting dropped off down at the start for body marking and bike prep.

Nothing was eventful this morning.  The routine of 14 Kona’s was setting in, I knew where I want to be at all times, certain time checks and meeting points.  Sure, this year was a bit earlier that usual, but the flow of the morning stayed the same.  Get to the grass area out in front of the King Kam 30 min before race start – its been like that since 1999…

Brain is on.  Things are clear.  Not nervous at all, just clear – aware – present.  Walk down to swim start, all smooth, even decided to wait on the side for a bit once going in: no getting cold and clobbered while waiting for swim start this year – its bad energy up there – too many agro swimmers fighting for a front row start.

Mantra for today is: Strong, Steady, Race.  Swim strong, stay steady on the bike, allow yourself to race the run!


Swim: STRONG.  Gun goes – I swim off – and immediately I feel connected to my stroke.  Power, flow, rhythm and kick.  Keep it together until things empty out, then hold my own line – feel good about my effort.  Around the Body Glove boat – and off I go – stronger effort – nothing hard, but no way will I be lackadaisical like last year.  Stay in it – stay with your day – my day.  My push puts me further ahead of the group I am with, and then I bridge up to the remaining lead group.

Get out and despite swimming well, surprised how slow the time was…oh well.  Just another slow year.  I know that is was STRONG.  Off onto bike.


Bike:  STEADY. I’ve broken this course down so often in my head, I have splits, wattages and observations from every part.  7.5 miles through town and up to Queen K.  Keep it under control, and just get my ass up to the Queen K – then settle in.  Its supposed to be steady.  Wattages are in check.  No – its not ‘easy’ but its good.  Steady.  Eat, drink, observe.  Time checks are ok.  Uneventful to Kuaihai.  All systems on.  Food going well.

Up to Hawi things become work.  I have been passed by a guy in my AG, but see him up ahead.  Another guy comes through – he seems more efficient and powerful.  That’s ok.  I know what I am riding. Feel ok.  Turn around in Hawi – its wet – we are really getting rained on.  Time check, solid, still too early to project, but everything where I want to be.  Special needs – top off, and keep it rolling.  Ride down from Hawi doesn’t feel that great – it has in past years, but despite keeping the effort smart (not pushing watts on downhills, using this section to chill a bit in prep for Queen K) I am still moving well.  Some years, backing off mentally here means feeling slow, and tired.  Not yet.  Calories are going down, everything is getting harder.  Legs, energy level, brain.  Stay in it – no emotions, your day, just do what you need to do, and it will be fine.

Things get hard the one mile from base of Kuaihai Harbor and Queen K.  Feels awful and the wattages are way lower than past years (man I have pushed some watts in this race over the years!), but here is where my day changed: time check onto the Queen K…is way off – AHEAD!  Too far ahead.  Somethings not right.  Compared to 14 yrs of data, this one was way off.  Past year all splits are 51-58 minutes.  Now?  43…!  I check my Garmin, something must be wrong. Its working, time is being kept accurately.  Holy sh*t.  Think Chris.  What does this mean?  You rode quite easy/not good energy the last 10-12 miles, yet still record time.  Its 32 miles home to Pier…That’s 90 min.  Hmmm.  Now I can project.  It can be a solid bike split…4:45 range…steady…clear thoughts, stay in it.  That split means tailwind, so as we turn on this island, there most likely is going to be something waiting for us down the road.

Sure enough, just before the Mauna Lani – headwind.  Solid, and blowing…its gonna be a long ride back.  I know where this is going.  Time to let go of watts, ride on feel.  This is disheartening.  Watts on feel quickly look ugly – really low.  Steady.  I know what low watts can do – I’ve had great races where the last 20-30 miles have been way low = good runs!  Keep on the plan, steady, eat, and drink.  All seems to be good.  Legs are a bit lethargic and achy, but cmon, its 85 miles into Kona.  Shoulders are tight – shoulder blades a bit achy, lungs a bit tight.  Nothing that is too unfamiliar.

The headwinds stay pretty solid all the way into Kona.  Pass a few people I know, I’m in the womens pro field now.  Off bike and splits look good:  Shit – it might be a great day: 4:55 bike and a 55 swim?  Out under the T2 banner onto the run in under 6 hrs…that is always a good number/marker and goal….

Immediately in T2 I notice my stomach is tight.  VERY tight.  All across my upper stomach.  Not just one side, but a nice wide berth across upper tummy.  Its also distended. Hopefully something that will loosen up?  I’ve felt similar before and at this moment I don’t remember if it goes away or not.  But I do know that if it were big problem, I’d have remembered it.

Dehydration related abdominal pain (DRAP).

Run:  RACE. I start running the first 2-3 miles just on feel.  Seeing how my stomach holds up – and what effect it has…I am able to eat, also sip water, so feel ok about prepping for when it loosens up.  Pace is going ok, but again confident to have good legs once the stomach subsides.  I also know I am in third place, so I am thinking to myself:  you were 14th last year Chris, just run relaxed and allow the race to come to you.  I also knew it was a fast year potentially with those bike times, but then quickly recognized the heat on Alii.  Nobody was going to shatter records today.  The day was on avg 15 min slower, even for the pros – so I was thinking that the run will be a mess: carnage up ahead.

My watch is showing me pace, and things start to get better.  I set the watch to only show overall pace, so I just am patient.  But once off Alii and up on the Queen K, its getting bad.  Legs are flat, energy is quickly dipping, negative thoughts are creeping in.  Competitors that I know are running behind me must be coming up soon.  I am going backwards, I must be at this pace!  Where are they?  Mile 13, 14 things really get ugly.  I know to push aside the negative thoughts, just keep running Chris.  I feel off, way off.  I dip my head in a big bucket of ice water.  That feels good, but legs are giving me very little and stomach is still tight.  I walk aid stations and work my way through coke and water.  I know I have eaten enough, I will not fall into the “I must be low on energy, eat more” brain game!  Keep moving Chris.  Just keep moving.  Where are the faster guys behind me??!  I know I am in second now.  I passed the guy a few miles back and my friend (Training buddy and overall support in Kona) is telling me I am second on the course.  He knows I am not well, so he leaves it at that.  He knows me – plenty of hours in CDA, Park City, Bend and Boulder together this summer.

Let’s do this Chris: get to Energy Lab, see how far the lead guy is ahead of you and gauge it from there.  You are not going to quit: remember today was simple: stay in it.  Race the Run (if I only could…)  At mile 15 I hear Lindsey Corbin say to me: no matter what today brings, just no regrets.  That was about as perfect of a comment I could have heard.

I enter Energy Lab and I begin scanning the athletes.  I know the guy is going to be coming any moment.  I had been walking 4 or 5 of the aid stations, so I assume he has stayed steady with his lead on me.  Half mile in, 1 mile in, where IS this guy?  1.5 miles in! Are you kidding me?  Is he literally right in front of me?  Sure enough – I get almost to the turnaround and there he is.  I smile at him.  It’s time.

A brief history here.  I have been racing Kona for so many years.  This 8 miles, from Energy Lab turnaround back to Kona Pier is what I visualize most EVERY long run.  Its either the best 8 miles in the sport, or the worst.  Its where you can make the race, that last hour where positions change and holding goal pace can make your marathon a success.  Its also a very long hour.  You have now been exposed in the sun & heat for 8 hours.  You feel the energy sucked out of you – not because its ‘Energy Lab’, but because you are now surely light on calories and hydration.  You just want to get home.  1 hour.  A season of training, many years of prep, for this last hour.  How often have I been here:  8 miles to go – placing – time – all become crucial here.  Can you still find a gear, can you push, can you have a PR?  In 2006 I looked at my watch and realized I could break 9 hrs, so the afterburners went on.  Last year exact opposite, I was convinced it was not my day, so I helped Caitlin Snow get some water and RedBull.  I’ve thrown up here in 2003 from drinking defizzed Red Bull with 3 Advil (dumb!), I’ve run with friends, caught some big name pros just trying to get home.  It’s a very strange, lonely, emotional place…yet when you prep for the race, 8 miles to go – last hour – is always something glorious…how often do we push our pace, pray to feel like that on race day!  8 miles home.

400 meters separate me from 1st place.  After 17 years of triathlon, 35 IMs, 14 Kona’s…and here I need 400 meters…Luckily this is where the years of experience pay off.  Auto pilot:  catch him, run behind him and wait for a mile marker, then 1 mile fast, push through 2 aid stations, then settle into pace again.  I catch 1st just outside of the Energy Lab, hold him in my sights for about a half mile, then at mile marker 19 I go…run harder until mile 21 – yes – 2 miles, just to be certain.  Settle back into pace and think:  you caught him on pace alone, so that 2 mile push has got to be enough.  I look back, all good…Hold on Chris…Mile 22 comes and this is where the public is able to be on the course again.  My buddy rolls up: “I’ve got some good news…you are in first…but 2nd is charging hard, he’s 1:20 behind you and tracking faster..” Darn.  I have nothing.  I used most everything in the 2 mile push.  I’m already shot, energy is just gone, legs are just doing their thing, I’m disattached mentally from the legs.  They are just plodding along.  Darn.  I didn’t get here to get passed.  I would never live that down.  Not from my athletes, not from myself.  Whatever Chris – find something.  Arms swing, push through the aid stations full stride – those are precious seconds…darn this hurts, not in pain, but in that I push and it feels slow.  Effort seems to mean I am slowing down less…

Mile 24: “Ok Chris, you got it.  I’ll see you at the finish.  1:40 up on 2nd, enjoy the last 2 miles.  You are gonna win your AG.  Let’s celebrate with a ‘few’ beers”…I put 20 sec on him in 2 miles.  I will finish this right.  Form, think form and footwork Chris… Mile 25, ouch.  Its all slow, even the last 1.5 miles.  I always run this faster – excited, happy to be done…enjoying the best mile in the sport…not today – I feel so flat, no energy.

Last mile – roll into finish chute, look back – all clear, cross the line – I am done.  Done.  No more – IM triathlon is not going to see me for a few years.   I am done…

And then into volunteers arms, medical.  I’m done.  Feel SO done. They carry me to Medical…whens the last time you pee’d?  Umm – in T2…actually – now that you ask, that was the ONLY time all day.  I didn’t pee on the bike..?!  Uh oh…Let’s get you weighed.  17 lbs.!…17 lbs lighter than the morning weigh in!  Weight in at 176 in the am, now I was 159!  Holy Sh*t…We recommend Hospital right away.  Severe dehydration like this etc. etc. etc. liver, dialisys etc.  Lets take a blood panel first.  Phew.  No hospital – blood panel.  I am not talking, just done.  Blood checks out ok.  Hematocrit – check, sodium – check, potassium – check, magnesium – check, blood pressure – check, pulse – check…its just severe dehydration…2 bags of IV…let’s see.  3rd bag and I am feeling better.

17 lbs dehydrated.  Wow.  5-6 bottles on the bike, of which only 3 were water.  I would say about 5-6 short!  Throw in sips only while running…no wonder I felt like crap.

The amazing thing about this race was what went wrong and how it underlines the point I always make to my athletes.  Things WILL go wrong on race day.  But with outstanding fitness, you can stay within the margins of a good day.  With that I mean the following:

Had I not been dehydrated, I might have run 10-12 minutes faster.  I believe that in those conditions a great day for me might have been a 9:10.  If you look at this in percentage deviation, we are looking at less than 3% difference from 9:10 to 9:24.  3% was my bad day.  It did not feel like I was close to being within 3% while I was out there running.  But by moving forward, by just sticking with it, by just staying mentally in it, the day can still be good.  Do I care about the time that much?  Sorta.  Only because I had been so ridiculously absent last year, that I was very committed to doing it right this year.  Yes – I won my AG and that was the primary goal, but also racing correctly, feeling good about the effort throughout the 9 hrs, was important to me.

I left the race last year (2014 Kina) with a few goals/observations:

  • Positioning – this year I was committed to swimming better – staying ahead of the field, and remaining present to know my place and flow in the AG placing. I had some eyes on the course for me, but I was also aware all day where I was in the race.
  • Distraction – the mantra this year was Stay in it. No matter what the day brings, stay in the race.  No drafters, no sensations, no conditions, no splits will distract me from staying in the race.
  • Strategy – stick to the plan. Resist the temptation to deviate from the optimal race strategy.  I remained observant to the splits and race day conditions to adjust the race strategy accordingly.  While it did not necessarily make a huge difference, I think my body would have responded differently had I not backed off on the bike.
  • Poor planning – this year I planned everything out. People one the course, people at home.  I felt good about knowing I could trust my people.
  • Trust – This year I trusted my fitness. I knew, with absolute certainty, that I was the fittest guy in my AG.  I forgot this last year, and let the day get to me.  This year, it was a deep belief that I did more, and my body had absorbed more than years past.  Maybe not my best fitness ever for Kona, but for sure in the 45-49AG.  I learned this year that certainty is ‘the confidence in our belief’.  With the summer of training I had had, the numbers I had seen, the health I had kept, the continuous weekly work on sleep and recovery…I had 100% belief that I had done all I could to be ready for this race.  Last year I was the fittest too, but I let my head get in the way.  This year I was not going to let that happen.

My son Jasper took part in a basketball camp early in the summer.  And since he just turned 7, some of the concepts they were teaching were a bit advanced, yet he came home every day with a card or note regarding the mental game of training and competing.  We would read them and usually before I finished talking, he had already walked off to do something else….!  Working on your mental game is not a high priority when you are a month into being 7.  And hearing what your Dad has to say about it – even MORE boring…but one card stuck with me.  It asked: “What have you done TODAY to accomplish this goal?” – on the other side you were to have written a goal for the 2 week session.  I took that card and hung it in my kitchen:  what have I done TODAY to accomplish my goals?  Getting on a plane to Kona I felt I had adhered to that card every day of the summer besides 2.  And those two I had chosen to do something with my kids, which I will argue might have allowed me to feel better about the other remaining days this past summer.

Its been 16 years of racing in Kona – its been many 2nd and 3rd places, its been plenty of 4-6th places.  Its been incredibly fast years (sub 9) and a DNF.  There has been racing Pro, and racing as a rookie.  I’ve had every experience in Kona – besides this one.  And although it felt so nice to close this chapter successfully, to have written the best story of this past year that I can imagine to write, I also can honestly say it feels no different.  Of course the cliché of ‘life goes on’ fits here, but I think that Kona this year taught me something a lot deeper….That truly doing your best, sharing that approach daily with my friends, and those around me, is a lot more rewarding.  Of course I wanted to win this year.  And it was hard.  And its WAY easier to write this observation after winning, but I also felt great about the race before it even started. I came into the race at peace.  I was more verbal with my goals.  I felt good about what I was doing, why I was doing it, and I felt connected to all the elements of ideal performance – physically I was fit, mentally I felt prepared and confident, emotionally I was happy with my training, myself and how the season unfolded without sacrificing too much regarding family and loved ones…and spiritually: I felt connected to deeper values and a sense of purpose to do this race.

So now I will stay off the Ironman circuit for a while.  Its time to enjoy races and activities I have not been able to do in past years.  Not because of Kona, but because of life.  Now I want to use this fitness for some fun events.   The Boston Marathon is one of those.  That’s what’s next.  Running Boston in a Yankees hat.  That is plenty challenging….




Kona 2015 Race Report (long!)

Final Days of August

Boulder day 1

Woke up Saturday in a new environment once again to train.  I have been in Boulder a few times before, but never to train.  Once again visiting my good friend and training partner from Park City who also joined me in Bend, and now here in Boulder.  He lives a good schedule like mine!

Coffee, breakfast and off for a 4 hr bike and a 30 min run.  Great ride out of Boulder, up St. Vrain to Raymond, and then on to Nederland along the Peak to Peak Highway.  Epic scenery, good work intervals again on long steady climbs that allow you to stay in the big ring.  In this case I did 2×20 min at 10% above race watts with 10 min recovery (on a hill).  Short stops at Raymond store (cool spot), and back home via Left Hand canyon.  Home, quick turnaround to a steady run on Cottonwood trail, 4 miles of steady IM goal pace.  Done!

Observations:  riding at altitude is a personal thing.  Some people really struggle with it, despite being crazy fit, others don’t really notice it.  I felt very little over the past month, whether at 7200 ft in Tahoe, 9500 ft in Park City, or 9500 ft yesterday on Peak to Peak Highway.  As long as I gradually warm up the Diesel engine, allow my breathing and legs to work in synch, the wattages are just as high as sea level.

Another thing I noticed on this last short stack is that if you focus only on the work that lies ahead in your training, the remainder of the time running or riding turns into a more effective, efficient and relaxed output.  As many of us have observed, once doing some work intervals, the wattages and paces after seem to come easier, be stronger.  Of course there are days when the work needs to be done later in the ride, but again, if the focus is just good execution until the work, things seem to be just fine.

Lastly, finishing up this final push reminds me that I am reaching a bit.  Reaching means that I can tell the fatigue is coming, and while the workouts are still very effective, I know I am needing more sleep, recovery, food, hydration and body awareness to execute well.  Nothing comes easy.  It requires focus, inertia and prep to do right.  Luckily I have been in environments these last 30 days where almost all has been ideal for this training.  Time for a few easier days!

Boulder day 2

Feeling good from training yesterday made for a fun long run today.  Today would be about endurance and strength, as running Magnolia Rd. is not only an ass kicker, but it’s at 8500 ft or higher the entire run (16 miles).  I started cautious since I don’t usually run that high, and know from past experience that once the HR goes at altitude, it rarely settles back down.  But since this was a rolling, dirt road out and back, it allowed for a steady build run, going from an aerobic effort to anaerobic over the course of 2 hrs.  Finished strong, last mile is uphill, but knowing that this was basically the last workout of the Epic August, I pushed it to exhaustion.  After we dipped the beat up legs in Boulder Creek, grabbed a lunch and toasted to an epic August coming to a close.

Boulder day 3

Solid morning swim of 3500yrds and then off to see Matt Steinmetz for some last tweaks to bike fit before Kona.  Any changes now can still be effective going into the final 6 weeks.  He is not only a good friend but really knows his stuff when it comes to gear, technology and coaching principles, so it was a great match to work with him today.  He chastised me enough on the Coast Ride on my fit and why I leave time on the course with subpar technology, I made an effort to come out here and see him.  Also not easy after he just got off a plane from Europe and being at EuroBike.. Good tweaks, good knowledge exchange.  Can’t wait to apply the changes.

The afternoon is off!  A full afternoon off today!  Tomorrow is September 1, and the race prep and focus kicks in.  No more big volume, more about focused watts, lots of race sim and adding speed and power into the fitness I built in The Epic August of 2015!

August was amazing.  I got to train with some amazing friends in amazing locations.  Tahoe kickstarted this push in late July, staying with friends that were generous to share their home last minute in Alpine.  It continued into August with a great trip to Park City, again with friends that were so generous and fun with letting me stay with them.  On to Bend to visit my ‘family’, close friends that have been supportive of my life, approach and family for 10 yrs now (When I left the corporate world), and finally here in Boulder, back with my friends that also live in Park City, now they open their home in Boulder and join in my adventures again.  It is a month like this, I will look back on many years from now, remembering the amazing training, the epic locations along with the sufferfests out there.  It’s friendships, beers, stories, and amazing memories that will make this sport nothing but a big smile some day…and something I am totally grateful for.  That is what all this is about: living.

I’ll go on to Kona in 6 weeks, race my best, and feel a deep satisfaction that I not only trained the best I could, but also made the best memories along the way I could.  Solidified friendships for life, made many new friends, and still kept moving forward with the training and fitness.

Progress, not perfection.  That’s living…


Final Days of August

Days 22-25: The Short Stack

Just like eating pancakes I like to stack my training into short stacks and big stacks. Short stacks are usually super focused 2 days – either big volume or high intensity – followed a a day or two of easier training. I modeled this approach from my ultra running days – where it is quite common to try and decrease the number of days you do a certain distance in. For example: when training for a 100 miler, you might begin with it taking you 10-12 days to get that distance in…and as you get fitter, better prepared and see your body is able to handle the load(s) – you might be running a 100 miles in 3 days with little recovery windows. So – back to triathlon: After some bigger volume and training with a fair amount of intensity sprinkled in the last 3 weeks, I wanted to throw in a short stack this week. A lighter Sunday (just a swim) and an early Saturday run (20 miles on trails in Bend) – I had 48 hrs of recovery with only a long – stretched out swim…I should be recovered.

My short stack consisted of 3 hrs bike with 10% over and unders with a 6 mile tempo run off the bike. I do this later in the day in order to finish the training, eat, sleep, wake up early and continue the short stack: in this case a swim and 16 miles speed changes run. Therefore in 20 hrs I got in 6 hrs of quality training. Then I planned to keep things simple again for 48 hrs.

3hrs on the bike included 5×10-15 minutes over race watts by 10%, with recovery at under race watts by 10% in between. Due to terrain, this means I started my ‘work at 25 minutes into the ride, and had to shut it down after 2:25hrs. It worked out to being a great quality ride with 5 steady rounds of under overs. Off bike and go for 6 miles, ran a little hot, but kept the RPE dead on a tick slower than 70.3 feel. Home by 6pm, eat, drink, little work, eat and drink some more…bed…5am wake up, coffee, to the pool, and in the water at 5:40am. Quick 4000, then home – eat, hydrate and 16 miles run at 5-5-5 build. 5 miles at IM pace, 5 miles at tick faster (12-15 sec) – 5 miles another tick faster (15sec)..1 mile back off on feel of IM pace. Done by 10am. Got ‘er done in just over 20 hrs.

What is a big stack? 3-4 days in a row, but being real smart on the intensity vs. volume. Since the big stack also has little recovery time (since the training hrs are longer), you can’t ask for both – so back off the intensity – until the last day – then – if things are still clicking – go! Have fun – work out all the ‘patience & restraint’ you showed earlier. But if you stack it right – that should not happen. The real big stack? What I did with Rich Roll and some of my UltraMan guys.. Day 1 was a 8-10k swim + 50 mile bike – Day was a 100 mile bike – Day 3 was a 40 miles run….basically 80% of the race distance..if you can resume ‘regular’ training after that…you are ready…!

After my short stack I ate a lot – quality = carbs! After 20 hrs of recovery it was easy to resume regular Wednesday intervals in the morning class and today worked a quality swim (3900yrds) with a quality run (2x{3×1 mile build to 30 sec faster than race pace} continuous).

Class in the morning and off to Boulder. Another short stack in the mountains please!

Days 22-25: The Short Stack

Day 21: What it all means

As I wrote my athletes today – any big training week, or multiple weeks, is only as good as your ability to come back home, into your structured training, and being able to execute the same or better than before.  Once home – on your familiar routes, your runs, your classes, your pool, your climbs, TT sections or favorite loops – and you can do them better, stronger, faster….THAT is successful big training.  Being able to absorb a big block of training, and then come home or into your ‘measurable environment’ and return to executing like there never was a big week?  THAT is fitness…THAT is getting stronger…THAT makes you feel good about your progress, focus and execution.  Training is only as good as your ability to absorb and progress…one day to the next…Absorb requires paying careful attention to recovery, sleep, diet, refueling and rehydration.  Progress requires smart prep, diligent execution in order to fairly and accurately compare the training week over week…month to month.  With all our tools to train these days…power meters, HR monitors, GPS for pace and speed…nothing replaces feeling strong and progress on your loops, your roads, your familiar environment…then you know you are getting stronger…

…”Your ability to train effectively enough to stimulate the appropriate adaptations”…

I woke up early today – despite getting in late from the drive yesterday.  Got some things organized, and off to swim I went.  4500 yards in the pool felt amazing.  Not necessarily super fast – but steady, long, connected, and great to flush out an 8 hr drive on the same day I woke up and did a 20 mile run…Its been 3 shorter days now with Fri/Sat and Sun.  Tomorrow week 4 begins.  But so far its all been quite manageable, I have been able to train effectively enough to stimulate the appropriate adaptations.  More on the how..and what I am seeing, in tomorrows entry.

Bend is done – Park City is done – Tahoe is done.  One more tour stop to go.  Boulder later this week.  Lets throw on one more week for good measure.  I am still feeling good/connected/healthy/recovered/absorbing:

August is 23 days old.  So far its been 1053 miles of cycling, 149 miles of running, 41,380 yrds of swimming: 78:57 hrs of training….only 8 more days to go!


Day 21: What it all means

Day 20: The Long Run

We woke up to a beautiful but cold morning in Bend (34 degrees…!) but we knew that starting early allowed for a bit of humidity in the air as well as better running conditions….It was a long one – we planned for 18-20 miles.  This run is quite smooth on soft single track through the woods and high desert at the base at Bachelor.  Not a lot of rollers or elevation gain and the return is a wee bit faster than the outbound leg…everyone was able to just set their watch for 1:15-1:20 out, knowing the return is faster..then whatever mileage you ran…done.

When running long on trails, without valid mile pace – the body should/like to settle into a rhythm, homeostasis.  A place where the effort, the balance between aerobic and anaerobic energy systems (fat & glycogen burning engines) synch up nicely and you just allow the ‘legs to carry you’…So after a steady start – just relax, run, take in the surroundings, and enjoy the ability to be able to go out and run 18-20 miles on a Saturday morning in Bend OR, with perfect cool weather, incredible views, fit legs and sound mind.  Allowing your thoughts to clear, to untangle the brain…and realize that you are actually running pretty well, clicking off some steady miles, feel energetic and like you…can…run….forever…THAT is the brain off running I talk about in my coaching a lot…but it only comes if you allow yourself to let go of ‘how’ you are feeling with regards to running, and instead absorb and experience your environment – surroundings – your body’s synchronicity.

It was nice to hear when I got back, that others felt the same way: connected, strong, like they could run…much longer…and that they kept looking at their watch saying “ok, just a few more outbound minutes”…!

That afternoon the kids and I packed up – and drove back to Marin, Bay Area.  I was hoping to get back before midnight – get a decent night sleep and be in the pool (remember the one I missed?!) by 8:30am for Masters…

Day 20: The Long Run

Day 19 – Rest/Recovery Day

After stacking 3 bigger days in a row, and a total of 15 hrs in 3 days, it was time to take an easier day.  Since I missed my swim on Thursday morning, I planned on swimming a bit longer this morning.  As with most camps, with the work being stacked, and everybody absorbing the training well, besides a swim there was choice afternoon.  This means if you so desire, we are in an ideal environment as well as a beautiful one, for an afternoon spin or easy trail run.

After morning 5300m swim I got my kids squared away at the skatepark as well as riding lessons, I did my weekly strength work in stretch cordz (600) and some general core and body stably work.  Solid day that might not have been a lot of hours, but good quality.  Swim was steady and late sets were still as fast/connected as the earlier sets.  The stretch cordz are pure technique combined with strength.  Of course all of us met at 10 Barrel Brewing Company in the afternoon and toasted our hard work so far this week…

Tomorrow:  2.5 hr trail run and thats a wrap for Bend!

Day 19 – Rest/Recovery Day

Day 18: getting to the back end

Last day of cycling in Bend.  The smoke has cleared and we started the day with a clear blue sky and views of all the seven peaks surrounding Bend.  Today the agenda called for a morning swim – 3 hrs bike with some cadence strength intervals on the climb up to Mt. Bachelor..followed by a fast focused run off the bike.

I missed my first workout in August today.  After picking the kids up from camp and running around with dinner and the group on Wednesday night, hot temps etc., I knew I needed sleep.  I didn’t get to bed until later, and I can feel the body creeping closer to the edge: training + kids + daily activities/work/dogs/life was starting to affect my recovery from these past 4-6 days of training.  I needed a good nights sleep – which I got (9hrs!)…and skipping a swim, well, that is one area I feel I can ‘catch up’ again quickly if I miss one…and I sorta feel good about my swimming for IM..

Off to camp after making morning lunches and breakfast etc…last day of camps!  Then off to ride bike.  Solid ride.  Legs responded immediately on the intervals – started off a little hot, but stayed within ranges (just creeping to the top end) – and I like playing mental games with this:  if I commit to a number early, well then I am ‘stuck’ holding it throughout the intervals…Can start off hot without standing by the watts/pace etc.  my…own…fault…right?  Finished a solid ride over Bachelor to the lakes and back, (60 miles) in 3:05, then off to run:  6 miles, dead on race pace.  Not quite as fast/smooth/controlled as the other day as well as I would have liked, but never compromised form, footwork and focus to finish the 6 miles as ‘asked’..

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Then – with my Park City training buddy in town, we closed out a good 3 day block with beers and lunch at Cascade Lakes Brewing Co.  Off to get kids from Camps, then to pump track for some dirt biking fun…ouch…late night dinner out in Bend…and a few drinks too many as the morning alarm clock’s gonna hurt…7am swim:  5000 meters of steady work at pacing sets.  Later stretch cordz, core and strength work.  Easier day is planned.


Day 18: getting to the back end

Day 17: BOR day

There are days – where you just go out and ride…long.  Why?  We had done solid quality the day before (4.5 hrs at race pace or faster) and today a 6 hr ride was scheduled.  All was going to be a day just like last week in Park City – 3 hrs out – long chill stop – and a long ride back…throw in that today was also over a beautiful landscape with McKenzie pass on the agenda.  Flat roads into Sisters – then a nice 15 mile gradual climb into Lava fields and spectacular vistas.  Then the plan was to descend down the other side, flip a b*tch, back home we go.

Why not ride focused?  Why just a big ole ride?  Why turn the brain off?  When we just ride, we again listen to our body and tend to ride smarter.  There are days to push – watch the watts, HR, pace etc.  Where we want to grind out the work, keep the technique sound while being very focused on keeping up the intended workload. This days require mental and physical engagement…and therefore they are quite taxing for both – brain & body…And while we often feel ok enough to come back and do it again the next day, it often is not as effective as taking a day to focus on aerobic training, relaxed riding, good circles, good breathing – allowing the body to create the fatigue based off the distance (100+ miles) vs. the effort.  The load stacks well for a few reasons:  first, because the brain and body need a break from the efforts/focus the day before, secondly if you look at the energy burned (kj) and training stress, 6 hrs easy, on feel, burns the same energy and stresses the body the same as 3-4 on intervals and focused numbers.  So – at the end of the day the body still had the same energy load, but the brain and body got a break from pushing it to the edge again.

Plus – when we just ride on a big ole ride, its seems less easy those last few hours since the body is tired anyways…so the brain and body get to a similar point just on time alone.  Mitochondria is nicely stimulated in this the of ride, and often that means one needs to ride easier than you think!!

The constant triathlete mantra SHOULD be – but is often forgotten:  train hard on focused interval and speed days, train easy on easy days.  It allows your peaks (stimulus) to kick in stronger, since your valleys (active recovery/rest days) are well absorbed.  Too many do the good ole triathlete misstep:  train a tick too hard on easy days, and not hard/focused enough on the hard days…  IF you stack it right – the body will respond better and better to the stimulus…and that is our entire goal right?

So often coaches (like me) look at the athletes training plan and we wonder why the athlete can’t execute the training as written (data/testing/races all provide the validation that the intervals SHOULD be doable), but because the easy days were not quite easy enough..the body was just not ready/available..OR the athlete get sick/injured after a few weeks of this “just a tick too hard” on easy days…because the fatigue causes a crack in the armor…and gradually the body breaks…all because of that incremental “tick too hard”…

If you wonder if you are going easy enough….go easier…then you are getting close…and watch the fast days crank up!

Great day today: a little over 100 miles, 6500ft of climbing, good company, and steady, relaxed, aerobic legs all day.  Never went over the wattage I held yesterday for 77 miles…despite climbing 15 miles today…all low watts.

For me..tomorrow quality again – 20 min intervals climbing, strength work, and a 45 min race pace run.


Day 17: BOR day

Day 16 – Race Simulation – because it presented itself perfectly.

The temps started heating up in Bend today – day 16 of this awesome stretch in August.  After a solid recovery day it was time to really push a focused workout that had race sensations and focus written into it.  We had a 3 hr bike planned with an hour run off the bike at race pace/feel.  We started mid morning (9:15am) so the temps were quickly coming up in the high desert out towards Prineville, OR.  A very flat – fast – steady course allowed for some good interval work followed by some steady IM watts.  Of a 77 mile ride, 60-63 were non stop head down aero bars.  Temps worked there way into the 90s and it was really (really) dry.  Forest fires in the area added a little haze and seemed like they keep the heat captured in the valley…

The goal today was mental, in combination with the watts.  We are all familiar with training days where visually everything keeps us engaged, as well as smooth pavement, cool conditions, we are topped off, with fuel and hydration..: well today was NOT that.  Hot & dry, headwind, little water, visually not that exciting as it is all dry grass, rocks and bushes…the fires even stole our views of the mountains surrounding us.  It is on days like these where dropping down in the bars and just doing the work, the watts, staying somewhat smooth, drinking hot water and remaining relaxed while the body is achy holding position on a crappy chip seal road – that taxes you.  We all knew it riding…no talking – just getting through miles and miles of flat – dry – windy roads..keep the watts – do the work – get it done.  It was actually the perfect Kona stop (signs or lights) for 30 miles – quick turn – then again for 15 miles etc.  Dry hot – and mentally fatiguing…but awesome…so perfect.  Again – a rare opportunity to simulate and work the brain and body at the same time.  77 miles, 3:22 of riding..

Run off the bike was beautiful given it was 95 degrees and dry..we ran on trail just next to the Deschutes River – but where it is canaled through a tighter section and therefore flows strong with white water and speedy drop offs.  Running in the heat – cotton mouth and drinking hot water in a water bottle you carry – while the ice cold Deschutes is splashing next to you – is again – a fun mental game…60 minutes at 10-12 sec faster than IM pace off the bike…Check!  Might have pushed the last 2 miles a bit harder…but it was a solid day and I wanted to close it out with good form, fast turnover..

DONE – Race sim – complete – hydrate – eat – pick up kids from camp – then out to Worthy Brewing Company for a fun group dinner….

Day 16 – Race Simulation – because it presented itself perfectly.

Day 15: Recovery Day

Day 15 was a recovery day.  Up very early for a swim, only to get to the pool to see it crazy crowded!  5:45am: packed!  Bend, I tell ya.  But we got in a nice 3600m.  Breakfast sweets at Sparrow Bakery with a perfect coffee and home to the kids for a day of camps, skating, playing, pool, and a bunch of training plans and emails!  But was still nice to have an afternoon trail run before picking my son up at outdoor survival and adventure camp.

Again:  easy on feel is so nice:  no Hr or pace, just running..

Best part of an easy day in the midst of a lot of training?  EATING ALL DAY LONG!

Day 15: Recovery Day

Day 14: Sunday Sunday Sunday!

What an epic day.  Early morning start in order to beat traffic as well as get the day going as the previous day we spent all day out doing the Bend triathlon.  Makes it hard when you leave your kids al day with your friends.

37 and clear made for a chilly start but the beauty of riding uphill to Mt Bachelor from the first pedal stroke made this a lot more manageable.  We had 75 miles planned with a one hour transition run.  Quickly an athlete of mine asked about wattage and how to ride today’s training…and most heard me say: just ride …but what HR?…just ride…but what watts?…just ride…but how do you want me to just ride?…just ride!   I know that may seem short, and not like a good coach answer…but I tell most of my athletes that when out on the road, whether for work or play, that new roads, especially in epic places…just ride, just run, just go on feel.  There are a few benefits to this:

  1. Chill out!  We are so technology driven in this sport, that just going by feel or how the body WANTS to that day is a very important ingredient in a good training plan.  If you are wound that tight that you can’t enjoy a beautiful ride in one of the most scenic spots in the country (Cascade Lakes Scenic Highway), then I am concerned more about your approach to the incredible fitness and health you have, and not enjoying it for what it’s worth.  I ride quite often just on feel, with no devices, and there is still a great training benefit as well as I am able to soak in the surroundings and my environment.
  2. If your devices go out or don’t work on race day…uh oh.  You have no idea what to feel…plenty of stories and examples out there if devices being stolen, not working or just malfunctioning on your BIG day…no biggie if you have also trained plenty on feel.
  3. Even if all your computers are working, there are race days when the HR is just not doable or the watts are way too forced.  So many things can favor into that, whether outside environment or internal stresses.  But riding and running on feel allows you to find you natural feel and cadence for the day, and often the watts/HR settle in after, but you allowed your body to dictate the day, vs. dictating a forced number to your body.  At every Tour de France you see riders get spit off the back, but once they settle into their own rhythm and feel, they often regain their placing or stay quite close!  It’s all about practicing YOUR Feel.
  4. When we are home is when it is ideal to do intervals.  Sure – I have been on the road for 3 out of 4 weeks now…and I need to get in some intervals…BUT – usually I say – when you are at home – in your usual, measured and familiar environment – that is a great time to do the focused interval work.  But when out on the road – for work or for play – it is important to not force intervals in where you don’t know the route (frustrating!) – and to not try and look for great results as often too many variables come into play.
  5. So, off we rode:  I told that athlete to put his computer in his pocket and look at it after, see how he rode on feel!

    A great ride with 5800 feet of steady grade climbing in 75 miles. Beautiful crater lakes, mountain vistas and great roads.

    After a gorgeous, and I mean incredible, run along the Deschutes river trail:  white water rushing amongst lava rock and through some beautiful forest landscapes.  As one of my athletes said: she felt like she could run forever on the soft dirt, pine needles and the amazing visual stimulation.

    Another 5 hrs of training in the books!  Rest day tomorrow!

    Day 14: Sunday Sunday Sunday!

Day 13 – Bend Triathlon

After a long day of driving with the kids from SF to Bend (taught class in SF in the morning, ended the day at dinner in Bend) – I wasn’t sure how I would feel today for our triathlon training day – 1 hr swim – 3.5 hr bike – 45 min run.

Started with a morning Long Course swim – outdoors, here in Bend. 3000m, long – stretched out and effective.  Then a quick transfer onto the bike for a 75 mile flatter – rolling ride to Sisters and back.  Close it out with a 6 mile run at Shelving Park (where we parked for the bike).  I am looking forward to this week of training.  The guys all seem to be ready to train – very little complaining, quick transitions today and overall the group was prepared for whatever the day brought.  I was impressed.

Riding up here in Bend is also unique – from horse farms to high desert plateaus – to mountain passes or even 40-50 mile flat roads, its all here.  We go a nice taste of all today.  The group might have started a bit aggressive, but that will only show itself in a few days after we layer this training for some big miles…

Observation today – after a week of training on HR in Park City – the response to wattages on the TT bike today was well aligned to what I had been seeing last week.  I feel good that the HR last week was at the right wattages, and feel even better that the HR training last week kept things more natural and tempered in this big block.  Wattages always pull you into a bigger number – if it feels good – you tend to drift higher…if it feels hard, you keep trying to re-engage into getting back onto a decent number.  You end up pushing, grinding a number that is not ideal for form, efficiency and aerobic – relaxed, sound technique riding.  Today, seeing wattages that were really good AND feeling good about the technique – form and relaxed aero position, validated last weeks training to me again.

13 days in, just under 50 hrs over training.  Another 6 to go tomorrow!  A beautiful scenic 5 hr bike via Cascade Lakes Highway and Mt Bachelor.  Then an hour run on the Deschutes River trail..

Good night – 8hrs to go…

Day 13 – Bend Triathlon

Day 12: Driving to Bend

While the day had little training – just a morning class – and although I felt really good – one can push through 90 minutes of intervals quite nicely. BUT – while driving north 8 hrs. to Bend, OR – I was thinking how well the training is going and why I felt so good through this big block. Some things became very clear to me:

  1. I have been getting good sleep – always around 8hrs per night. Some nights a little over 7, but still good quality sleep.
  2. I have been drinking a lot of water – looking at 3-4 32oz Nalgene’s per day – when not training. A gallon of water helps.
  3. I have been eating a ton. I always eat a lot – but I have been reminding myself to keep eating…Never stop eating…always be eating..and the right foods. It becomes quite habit forming to time the food right.. its training, big training, not a weight loss plan. If I come out of these three weeks weighing the same – perfect. I am not looking to be that much lighter for Kona, I want to be fitter and stronger.
  4. The recovery between workouts has been focused. While working, I am constantly drinking water – eating well, and have my legs up or resting.

It seems so basic – but sleep often doesn’t stay this consistent…remaining on top of the fluids is often overlooked…and the food isn’t as good for fueling…Mix them all together right and it seems to work for me.

Day 12: Driving to Bend

Day 11 – Halfway home?

Closing out a quick stay at home today in Marin.  Gorgeous day at home today – mid 80s and clear coast.

The day started with a fun swim.  Always a good reminder of what swimming used to be like when swimming with all the high school kids currently.  We did a set of 200s and the are holding 1:55s and pushing 1:50 on the faster ones.  Interval 2:10…I remember those days…but 25 yrs is a long time ago!  Instead I swim 2:10 and roll on a 2:25 interval…humbling, fun, and very worthwhile!  Solid 4000 yards in just over an hour.

Quick turnaround to a 5 hr bike.  Or so the plan, but a flat and buying more tubes at Pt Reyes Bike shop (Black Mountain Cyclery) delayed me, and kids were waiting at camp, so it was 4:45 instead.  But – beautiful day at the coast today (see pics below) and while it took me a while to settle in, I still go in my 2×15 min intervals and another 4×10 min.  80 miles in Marin – 4300ft of climbing via Marshall Wall (where I got my flat…) – 3.5 bottles at 28oz per bottle – all water.  2 Cliff and 1x Chomps.  (Stoked by the way that GU is introducing energy bars ‘sticks’…)

No real observations today – just work!  But another solid 6 hrs of training – layer upon layer….

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Tomorrow:  Class in the morning and then drive to Bend, OR – training week in Bend and training heaven location #3 for the past 4 weeks.  Tahoe, Park City, now Bend is next…

Day 11 – Halfway home?

Day 10: Air doping

Wow – that was all I could say today…After a light day of travel, swim and catching up on work, I got to be early for a good 8+ hrs of sleep in my own bed heading into today.  4:30am wake up call for Indoor Cycling class.  Great group in attendance which always makes it fun to wake up to and train effectively.

Back on my road bike with the proper fit and a good night sleep – I immediately felt good on the bike.  I hadn’t ridden since Sunday – so I was not that surprised about feeling good on the bike.  But once we got into the intervals (see below) the legs felt great.  Closing out the steady state pieces I kept adjusting the watts since my usual watts were too easy… some catching up with clients and bike fit work, then off to run…and THIS is where it got astonishing.

Sure, a beautiful morning on the SF waterfront.  Ferry Building, ATT Park, Hunters Point – just spectacular sights and weather (clear and sunny 70s at 8am!) – but when looking down at relaxed 6.40 pace, I knew it was going to be a great run.  2×2 miles inserted at Half IM pace was a controlled 6.15, it was harder to slow from that pace than to hold.  Pure – rich – moist – thick sea level air.  Coming down from 7000-9000 ft to the Bay Area was powerful.  I could have run faster or forever…

I experienced altitude training differently in the past.  1) for swimming we stayed at altitude longer – meaning we went through a full cycle of training until we were fully acclimated at 9-10,0000 ft (Flagstaff or Toluca, MX) and then returned for the full benefits in the pool.  The key there was getting acclimated at altitude in the pool takes 2-3 weeks.  It was hard, painful, and really boring!!  2) For some reason Tahoe area training never really kicked in like this.  I cannot say for certain that the extra 1000 ft make a difference (PC is at 6800-7200 ft vs Tahoe at 5800-6200) – and we did a lot of riding at 8000-9500 ft, which we don’t do in Tahoe…but this time was significant.  I don’t feel it as much in the pool on Tuesday since I went from the plane to the pool on a short night of sleep..

The afternoon strength & stability session was a bit lethargic to start – but then felt solid in the 640 StretchCordz (on my way to 1000) and core/stability, jumprope was dead on the usual.  Little soreness will kick in tomorrow during swim practice!



I like oxygen rich air!  Considering another PC window in September – but will want to see how the next few days feel – if just a short window, then might not be worth it…If it last for a a week or more, then might time it just right..Bend will have another nice effect next week as it is at 3600ft with plenty of training at 5500-6000 ft.  And – throw in Boulder later this month…

When running opposite direction in a bike lane in SF…they don’t like you.  Or – at least some agro cyclist take their real estate seriously – as one guy spit at me! Running on the sidewalk is not always ideal (concrete sucks and Hunters Point really stinks for sidewalks) – this Hipster thought my running on the side, mostly out of the bike lane – was somehow not cool, I’m the loser.  Oh well, I just confirmed my mantra I have on a T-shirt:  Don’t feed the Hipsters..we might have too many of them…If you are that upset to spit on someone while riding with your skinny jeans rolled up on one leg (they are skinny jeans, why roll them up??) – one of those funky back-encompassing recycled rubber backpacks – no helmet with perfectly groomed (greased) hair and beard – and you own the bike lane to spit at me?  Then you might just be a bit too lame to enjoy the privilege of SF city cycling with its wide bike lanes and plenty of respectful cars, runners, pedestrians…I’d invite you (that guy) to join me some time, back country hunting for chukar on a ridge up in Susanville – where your backpack and DocMartins might not fly, either out there or in the local watering hole..Spitting on someone…Please..

Tomorrow – Day 11:  4000yrd swim and 5 hr bike with some TT intervals.

2x thru:

  • 7-5-3-1 – all with 1 min rest
  • 7 is 4/3 low Z3/upper Z3
  • 5 is 3/2 upper Z3/low Z4
  • 3 is 2/1 low Z3/upper Z4
  • 1 is max watts
  • then 5 min steady smooth, efficient, relaxed and focused mid Z3/T1

Day 10: Air doping

Day 9 – Moving Day: PC to OAK to Marin

Waking up at 4:30 this morning was sort of uneventful.  Quick drive to SLC airport and a flight home to Oakland.  Took a while to get bag, so drive home was rushed in order to get to swim practice on time.  Long – stretched out – relaxed 3700 yards back home in sunny Marin.  Settled in at home by 11am and a full day of work to dig into.  A full recovery day with only a swim.

As is important for any recovery day in big training phases…I eat…all…day…long.  Yoghurt and granola, fruit, 2 ham sandwiches on wheat, quinoa chips, more fruit, salad and pasta for dinner with Udo’s Oil and lemons. Some sea salt dark chocolate for dessert and now I’m ready to hit the hay.  Oh, and 2 beers, Little Sumtin and a Summer Solstice…

Tomorrow is quality and power:  90 min class with some longer build intervals (2×25 min with the last 5 min of the interval at tempo) – 10 mile speed run with 2×2 miles built in at 6.30 pace – Stretch Cordz, Core and jump rope in the afternoon.  I am confident a good night sleep – and some rest today will set up a strong day tomorrow.


Day 9 – Moving Day: PC to OAK to Marin

Day 8: Looks doable …but sucked

Ouch!  Early rise again in order to be in SLC for meetings and office time.  Late night with early rise after a 30 hr training week hurts!  But once the coffee went down the hatch and the shower kicked in – it felt ok.  Only a banana for breakfast as I was looking to just get some energy until later in the morning, then the plan was to rehydrate and fuel for a 2 hr trail run…up in PC again.  Well, meetings lasted longer, lunch was smaller – and while driving back up to PC I was busy with calls, no food/hydration either…the problem becomes aware to me 30 min into a 15 mile trail run in….the…middle…of…nowhere.  no water, food, shelter or even dwellings out here.  while beautiful and perfect for a focused trail run….not idea on a light/empty stomach…But I committed to a) doing this run aerobic with a focus on light – relaxed form – light feet – quick & light turnover…b) I own my mistakes for the lead up to this run – so I will focus on making it through while still getting the training effect.  15 miles in 2 hrs (1 bottle of water – thats it – stupid!).  Positive split by 2 min.  Not the run I wanted, but I will return to this canyon and execute the run right, strong, and smarter some time between today and Kona…

Observations – I do NOT like running in the afternoon.  Actually – I don’t like training in the afternoon.  One feels lethargic, sleepy, hot, slow and flat.  While there are plenty days where this is just unavoidable…I still can say I don’t like it…Running on a big open trail run – when tired – make everything feel longer.  When you can see the trail on the horizon, knowing you need to run there – ugh…and when tired the legs – work – form really require some focus as they just want to plod.  Lastly – dunking your head in a cool creek and getting soaking wet is a saving grace, but don’t let your mind wander to drinking that water (as I was contemplating) – as the 4 weeks of ghiardhia following the run would be awful.

Quick trip to Whole Foods to get protein drink, and a big sandwich…refuel and rehydrate…back to normal and able to join a fun close out BBQ with friends before an early 6am flight back home to the Bay area.  Park City is truly heaven to train, love the area, love the town, love the vibe, and love my friends there…surely not my last visit over the next few months.

Home: off to swim a quick 4000 yds and take the dogs on a nice chill 45 min trail run – no watch – no HR – no pace…


Day 8: Looks doable …but sucked

Day 7: Over the mountains and through the woods, to Hanna we go…

This had been the one I was really looking forward to.  While it is on the back end of a solid (!) week of training – the body had been holding up well and we had an epic ride planned.  Early morning rise into a swim is always hard – that first wake up movement is always a but achy and stiff (yes – even when 27 yrs old vs. 45) – and while the coffee kicked in well, the 7am swim is what will really wake you up.   2700 yrs of some speed and aerobic work, and quickly out of the pool to get some breakfast.  Note to self:  swimming at 7000ft in a pool with turns and breathing patterns is different than a lake a 7000ft…harder!  And – all of us noted together that after swimming the body feels looser and more refreshed – ready for 6 hrs on the bike!

Quick bagel breakfast (3 bagel with eggs, sausage and cheese as well as bacon – need fuel and fat for the day!  – and off to pack bikes, gear for the day.

Driving out to the bike start we review the course – the terrain and how we want the day to go – whether not getting dropped too quickly – or how to get picked up at a certain spot – we were ready for a long 15 mile climb over Summit Pass and turning around in a tiny Utah town of Hanna.  Myself I knew I want to climb smart – be conservative early to get a feel for the terrain and then ride the return knowing how I’ll work in different sections.  What an epic ride!  Not only do we ride by beautiful ranches with horses and buffalo (!) – but also a spectacular canyon with fly fishing streams and a big open pass that displays the grandeur of the Uinta Mountain Range.  Steep – aggressive climbing from the one side – but after 6 miles of solid 8-10% climbing we roll over the summit – 9500ft – and descend into the next valley.  Pictures below…

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Once in Hanna (temperatures quickly rising into the 80s) we stop for fuel and water.  But this fuel was a bit different as we sat for a full 75 min lunch with pizza and ham sandwiches.  While this might not be your usual refuel stop on a long ride – today was a long casual ride – we did our work and interval for the week, we did the load until now – today was just about riding…so a long lunch and then turn around and ride back over this spectacular pass….and while I was well fueled, the food sat low in the belly – which meant the restart was somewhat uncomfortable…gradually – 12 miles into the return climb the legs and stomach had recovered and we crested the pass with some great TT and steady work on the return.  Quick turnaround at the car and I rolled out to pull/guide the lost puppy Florida based rider back to the rendezvous point of out finish.

An epic day ended with a great dinner and fun at High West Distillery & Restaurant in old town Park City.

84 miles of cycling – 6000ft of climbing (all at once) – 5 hrs.  7 bottles of water (24oz each) – 1x ClifBar – 2 slices of cheese pizza – 1 ham and cheese sandwich with tortilla chips and pickle – no idea how to apply those calories…!

Observations:  riding at that altitude is not an issue for me – controlled breathing and nothing too sudden allowed for HR to stabilize and the riding to be steady – climbing front side was higher wattages but due to grade – not effort/riding style.  Back side of climb was longer, lesser incline so the steady climbing cadence was more fluid at times and allowed for higher watts longer, not as spikey.  Also – need to be careful to drink and – in racing – to pour water on me for the descents as one feels quite lethargic restarting after a long 10 mile descent.  Lastly – pizza is not a good fuel for cycling (or running I assume).

Day 7: Over the mountains and through the woods, to Hanna we go…

Day 6: Tour of Utah

This is where the training plan for the month of August started lining with some great training.  Park City is that – great training, great community, great location.  Perfect day today – beautiful cool temps after late night thunderstorms here in Park City.  Clear mountain air, cool temps in the low 50s, sunny and everything is flushed out from a solid rain.

Roll out at 8am – with local friends as well as those who flew in.  70 miles of beautiful countryside and perfect 4-8% grades for 20 min climbs..rollers, dirt roads, canyons, fly fishing streams next to the road, country stores, and overall perfect riding roads & conditions..

Home at noon – quick fueling stop – then off to run 6 miles, steady with race sensations.  While the food in my stomach limited any type of light feet, the engine still felt good, and the focus was more keeping the HR under control vs. pushing a tick too hard.  BIG day of riding tomorrow.

Riding on someone else’s bike is always different – but this one felt great all day.  Never an issue and the fit was mighty close to perfect.

Observations:  riding at 7000ft requires smart timing on food.  If you eat while climbing or out of breath – it takes a while to have the HR catch up to the breathing again – I should say gasping vs. breathing… I am also told the the dry buggers go away once you live up here (good to know!)…HR while elevated, still settles in and once you find your sweet spot – you can actually ride quite well at altitude.  I pushed some intervals today – and while the watts were dead on, the HR actually settled in only 2-3 beats higher than normal.

70 miles on the bike – 2 bars, , banana.  4x24oz water.  While the food was a bit low – ate 2000cals for breakfast before push off, so that carried me 2 hrs into the bike, which then means 300 cals per hour was dead on big training caloric needs.  (Breakfast 3x english muffin with jam and butter, 1x egg & heirloom tomato sandwich on wheat bread, banana, 2 cups coffee, 1x peanut butter and honey sandwich)

25 hours of training into the epic August so far, 21:30 this week, the 6+ hrs tomorrow ought to add just the punch in the gut to leave me tired…

Below some pictures from todays tour…plenty of dirt roads & climbs.

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Tomorrow – 6 hrs on the bike – 10,000ft of climbing is planned.  But we’ll start with a morning (early morning) swim – and then finish our ride in time to see the final stage of the Tour of Utah coming into PC..

Day 6: Tour of Utah

Day 5 of 21: Travel day

Early rise today for class as well as packing, getting kids to camp – and getting on a flight to Salt Lake to head up to Park City.  Today could not have gone smoother.  Felt great in class – with plenty of upper Zone 4 work, and a good mix of steady state tempo intervals built in (Intervals below).  Race home, pack for 5 days of training in PC, but luckily no bike.  Using an Orbea from a friend locally.  Get kids off to camp, home, prep house for being away, exercise the dogs, and off to Oakland Airport.

Talk about an easy trip – in truck at 10, boarded and in the air by 11:45…land in SLC at 2:20, in PC by 3pm.  4 hrs door to door!  Although funny was that I had to check my bags because….the chamoix creme for this trip was too big of a tube allowable for carry on!  You know you are training big when you travel with the BIG tube…

I got a ride from SLC because my friends flew in from Boulder and Florida in a similar window.  Off we go:  quick lunch in PC, then 90 minutes on the trails:  perfect 20 min loop:  since I want to negative split this run I plan to run a minute faster each round….for 4 rounds with a longer warm down.  Glad to hold 7:15 pace for 12 miles at 6800ft.

Its nice to train in new terrain but I find it quite important to be conservative.  New roads, terrain, climbs and trails require patience as we can quickly shell the legs for the next 4+ days.  Its also nice to train with good friends.  Its starting to become a fun group that we are meeting up all over the West Coast in 2015.  These guys did the Coast Ride in January with me, a training week in Marin in early May, IM CDA, Vineman, now PC, then Bend, then Boulder.  Training with true training friends is a rare privilege – especially when this sign was waiting for me at the airport after I walked out to baggage claim…(see below):  Nothing like a solid ribbing to not only give me grief, but also a gentle reminder of what we are doing here.  Although they meant nothing other than a good laugh at my expense…

Up and at ‘em tomorrow:  3.5 hrs on the bike with a solid 1 hr transition run.  Goals tomorrow – good ride intervals, plenty of hydration (drink lots of water) – eat well, and run great off the bike… nothing but good sensations..

10 min easy
7 min mid Z2
5 min upper Z2/low Z3
3 min mid Z3
1 min upper Z3/low Z4

5 min low Z3
3x (1:40 at 120%/upper Z4 high cadence + 40 sec easy/rest/recovery) +1 min after round
4 min mid Z3
3x (1:40 at 120%/upper Z4 high cadence + 40 sec easy/rest/recovery) +1 min after round
3 min upper Z3
3x (1:40 at 120%/upper Z4 high cadence + 40 sec easy/rest/recovery) +1 min after round
2min lower Z4
3x (1:40 at 120%/upper Z4 high cadence + 40 sec easy/rest/recovery) +1 min after round
1 min mid Z4
3x (1:40 at 120%/upper Z4 high cadence + 40 sec easy/rest/recovery) +1 min after round

Day 5 of 21: Travel day

Day 4 of 21: Early Bird

Quick post today – since the workouts were quick..

Slept solid into my 5:20 alarm, then did the typical morning mind game: can I swim later?, maybe I just run first, then swim?…maybe I can run this afternoon and swim at 9:30am, maybe, maybe, maybe…but after 23 yrs of swimming and getting up for morning practices, I know that a) the sleep after that first wake up and mind games is never that good – its compromised by guilt…b) you always regret not just getting it done early…end up trying to fit in the workouts vs. really doing them as planned.

Up and on my cruiser bike by 5:35…in water at 5:50 (yes – I live close to pool) – 4000 yrds, felt decent, not great – as some fatigue from StretchCordz and days prior creeping in.  But some fun IM mixed into distance freestyle set was just right.  Also was nice to swim with a good friend of many years.  He pushed me a tick harder than I would have on my own…

home – quick coffee and bagel, then out the door for a trail run.  Ran with dogs – early enough that it wasn’t too hot for them yet.  10 miles of single track rolling trails back in the Redwoods of Baltimore Canyon.  Aerobic run.  Just looking to layer these days well as the work begins tomorrow:  Morning class with lots of intensity – then off to Park City – with an afternoon neg split 90 min run.  Not sure if it will be trails, but either way – neg. split focus, fast feet, light finish.

Home – bigger breaky – more coffee – and pack it up to head to Berkeley Skatepark!

My morning mind game reminded me of what this training (and coaching) is all about.  The way we perform come race day is the result of a lot of small decisions/choices over time.  We tend to fall into a line of thinking that how we race when it counts is because of one large, meaningful focus, change, commitment.  Actually its about all the accumulation of the little choices that make the greatest impact…especially in a past life where your focus is 3-4 years away, its easy to ‘pass’ on the occasional workout, drylands, sleep, nutritional focus…These smaller choices look small in the short-term, and when looked at individually, they appear to have little impact…but as time creeps along (and it does on some of these long training days or in a 4 year Olympic cycle!) these choices, this awareness, this ‘paying attention” begins to add up.

One morning sleeping in – pushing the workouts to later in the day, but not feeling that good, or being as focused, might not create much of a gap between me and my desired finish line time/result, but a season’s worth of the occasional compromised workout, lack of focus, or slip ups will quickly create a very noticeable (and regrettable) gap between my result and desired outcome.  Too often after the race it’s “what could I have done better”?  Unfortunately we then focus on those bigger things:  different training, losing weight, bigger base, changing coaches, new bike (!)…but its those little battle that add up to feeling good about your result – no matter what that result is!  I did what I needed to do in order to have the best outcome today:..focused on technique..reflected/took accountability of my training…won the small battles by focusing on today…did something a bit better today than yesterday…

Friday Funday tomorrow!

Day 4 of 21: Early Bird

Day 3 of 21: Short but sweet!

Early rise today.  4:30 wake up, prep for class I teach.  90 min on Computrainers, 20 bikes, fun class with music and TVs.

I like class.  It’s focused quality and intensity.  Dial up a wattage, do the work, then rest.  Same environment, same machine, very replicable training and therefore valid to measure results.  Temps always about the same, so HR vs. watts is a valid indicator of being fresh (?) – fatigued (!) – or dehydrated, etc.  lots of inputs when one can replicate 2x a week, in the exact same environment.

Solid class and despite a slow start (lighter warm up) – the workloads at Z3, Z4 and above felt good, as well as a lot of high cadence pieces.  Plenty of hard work, but good intensity and 90 minutes is not that intimidating.  Class protocol we did today is listed below.

After class on Wednesdays I get my kids back, so home, cook breakfast (we are a breakfast bunch with bacon and sausage and eggs etc.) – and the day got busy.  Fit in my Stretch Cordz (10×50) alternating with 200 jump rope skips and some core work.  Why do I do Stretch Cordz (Red resistance in case you are curious)? – mainly to provide some extra strength to my swimming (upper body has disappeared with triathlon years) – as well as that strength works well in open water where I often feel I need to muscle some stretches of an open water lake or ocean swim.  So much of the training in triathlon is below the chest – that some arm resistance bands with clean pulling lines is quite helpful for me.  Core is a no brainer – and jump rope keep the light feet focus, single skips – fast feet.  I’ve been a jump rope junky for many decades now (!?) and I really like it after long runs (bring back cadence and light feet – sorta like rollers after a long ride).  But working them as quick stations:  50 pulls, 200 skips, some solid core reps – then rest – 10x through for some stability and strength – effective 45 minutes!

Run – 45 minutes felt ok – light – relaxed – no pace – no HR – just a watch.  While daughter was at her riding lessons, and son is at his skateboard lesson, I have a great hour to kill in a great trail marsh that has water fountains and marked miles.  Might have been fast, might have been slow.  Might have been suppressed HR – might have been elevated…no idea.  Just a run on a hot afternoon:  86 and sunny with some NorCal fires mixed into the air..the jump rope left me light and bouncy – felt good – but no numbers always feels good!

Tomorrow – early rise for a 4000 yard swim and a 1:20 aerobic trail run.  Then off to Berkeley Skatepark with the kids and some afternoon beach time with the dogs.  Park City Utah bound on Friday!


Shift – 8.5.2015

10 min warm up spin
5 min build to Z4

6×2 min:  alternating mid Z2 (80%) – and 120% – continuous.


3×15 minutes with 2 min rest/easy

  • 30 sec high cadence spin + 4 min steady + 30 sec high cadence spin. (high cadence is always T1/mid Z3) +1 min full rest
  • 30 sec high cadence spin + 3 min steady + 30 sec high cadence spin.+1 min full rest
  • 30 sec high cadence spin + 2 min steady + 30 sec high cadence spin.+1 min full rest
  • 30 sec high cadence spin + 1 min steady + 30 sec high cadence spin.+1 min full rest
  • 30 sec high cadence spin + 30 sec high cadence spin.

Round 1: add watts each round 90-T1-110-120% in the middle minutes

Round 2: 80/120% equal split of the middle minutes.

Round 3: add watts and 120% equal split 2nd half.  (4 min example: 2 min 90%/2 min 120%) // 3 min is 1.5 min T1/1.5 min 120% etc.


Day 3 of 21: Short but sweet!

Day 2 of 21: A cool day in August

Rare to have cool temps here in August – actually might have been the first real cloudy day here in 2015!  But it did allow for a day with limited sunscreen and perfect training temps in the low 70s.

Today the plan called for a swim, long aerobic bike and a choice run off the bike.  I knew early on that I would not be running today – I wanted to give the running legs a break:  3 days of running in a row, along with some speedwork on Sunday meant that today needed to be an off day for that discipline.

A late night yesterday meant a late start today.  A fun dinner in SF at The Progress meant my morning started at 6:30am instead of my usual 4:30 or 5am.

GOAL today was focused swim with some good efforts but nothing too deep.  Then a solid aerobic ride with limited stops and a focus on watts above 230, but never really over 280.  Build the ride in the middle 4 hrs, so that the second half is a bit higher watts and throw in a ‘feel’ interval at mile 70 to test how the legs feel vs. wattage vs. HR. I also knew based on riding 5 hrs today in Marin that I would need to ride with a ‘race power’ approach:  this means that I coast the downhills, back off the effort when pedaling would just be wasted energy.  I am not looking for a ‘chain tension’ ride today, which would have meant limited coasting and constant pedal focus/pressure.

In the pool at 9:30 – a solid 4000 yards in just over an hour as well as some humble pie with all the college kids home and in the lanes next to me.  Out of the pool – home – quick transition and on my bike by 11am.  Solid 93 mile ride in 5 hrs, with 5700 ft of climbing (typical Marin). 6hrs and 7 minutes of training today.

Some observations:

  • Late evening along with a few good beers (CaliCoast Kölsch and a Fort Point IPA) also meant my HR was a few beats higher than usual on the bike.
  • Knowing I have so many days in a row to ’stack’ this training, wattages are not that important.  This does not mean I don’t pay attention to the Rx for the day.  It means I allow the wattages and legs to settle in and come to me.  Today this happened about 50 min. into my ride. It often requires some climbing or a solid interval to ‘wake’ the legs.
  • I felt very efficient in the aero position today.  Dropped down and off I rode.  Felt more comfortable aero today than sitting up.
  • 6 bottles: 5 water + 1x GU Roctane.  950 calories in 3 CliffBars, 1x Gu Chomps.  Little light on cals.  Should have had about 200 cals more.  But came into morning with a big 2000 calorie breakfast.
  • Late interval worked well, need to be careful to not push this but truly ride on feel as in race miles 70-85 etc.
  • Was able to ride second half of ride 12 watts higher.

And finally – this greeted me at the swim this morning:


While not all applies to my day – it hit home in the last 4 lines….technique ALWAYS trumps speed.  Especially us endurance athletes.  Speed will wane, technique will keep you efficient.

Training tomorrow:

  • 90 min cycling class + 45 min strength & core + 45 min easy run


Day 2 of 21: A cool day in August

August is gonna hurt

I don’t do blogs…

But here I go.  Why?  Its August 3 and I have 10 weeks to Kona 2015.  Been here before – many times, but this will be my last one for a while.  So why a blog?  Couple of reasons:

I have an epic August lined up with training.  Not on purpose, it just sorta settled into place like this…78 hours of training in the next 20 days.  Park City, Bend and Boulder in the next 28 days.  It’ll hurt, it’ll suck, but might as well document it for some future read.  I’ll get into why this is my last Kona for a while in some future blog.

Also, some day, I’d like to look back on this window of life, the training, the long days, the fatigue, the depths of hard training…and I’d like to read it and smile, with a little twinkle in my eyes…remembering how fun it was – how alive I felt and how good friends, family and loved ones set up a successful window in time like this.  A training partner – way back – from Sweden once said to me in his broken English: “you won’t remember the easy days of training, so you might as well stay on the couch and rest those days…what you will remember are the hard days” – And when he said hard days, he meant it – for him by definition that meant anything under a 300w ride might as well be a day on the couch…I missed doing this type of diary for my swimming days.  I have so many stories – experiences – events – friendships but I never captured a window in time with a diary…or in today’s world – a blog.

Another reason is accountability.  Writing about my training, my days, my life the next month, helps keep me accountable to this, the blog, the diary, the snapshot into a fun window of life.  Accountability also in thinking that someone, somewhere – even if it is my kids some day – might read this.  This will be Kona number 13 for me – not sure if that is lucky or not – but the point here is I know what the training leading up to October is like…how hard it gets, how tired, how flat at times, how solitary, how stressful on schedule, life, kids, family etc.  I have done all the different approaches: gone away to train.  Stay home to train.  Train big, train fast, train aerobic, train lots of simulation, train alone, train with pros, train at altitude, train low.  Geez, just writing this makes it exhausting.  So – writing about it – sharing it – being accountable – even if it adds that little extra ounce of consistency, motivation…then it is already worth it…

Sort of a bigger commitment.  Writing every day of the 20-30 days…and sort of pompous, narcissistic…to think that someone will want to read…well maybe read one day, but then not ever again…but I do have a few athletes that have mentioned that they would love to get an insight into my training, how I prepare, how I get tired, cranky, and balance this training, life, family work thing…And – if it helps in coaching, if it helps in connecting with some of my athletes, if it raises the right dialogue and questions, even better!

Not all entries will be this long. I figure a little bit of background…then down to the simple daily inputs/observations/training comments and diary:  Hey – it looks as though I am doing my own Training Log updates…the ones I request from so many of my athletes…ugh.

Thank you in advance to Mike Radogna for posting these every day for me and keeping the website up to date.  No way I could do that…!

Monday – August 3rd.. Training Plan?  I’ve just come off a solid recovery week.  I’ve had my kids for the past 8 days, we did some awesome adventures, so training is always a recovery week when I have them for longer periods of time.  Last week was an easy 16hrs of training – and July was a little of a mix&match month of training…After IM CDA I just trained on feel into Vineman, then used a week up in Tahoe to get my aerobic legs back under me.  So that was a big week of training (26hrs) at the back end of July, last week 16hrs of easy recovery and it begins today:

  • 3 hours on the bike with 1×15 min at HIM race watts – and later in the ride 4×4 min at threshold (LT/Zone 4) with 2 min recovery.  After that – settle into the aeros and let the legs dictate the watts – focus is aero, efficient and relaxed.  
  • 30 min run off the bike – 10 min easy at IM pace – 10 min Fast on Feel (FoF as I like to call it) – 10 min easy again.  

Today I wanted to be real careful – easy when not ON an interval, smart training – big block ahead.  Tons of fluids – to stay on top of hydration.  Good calories and an overall awareness of getting my sh*t together in mindset, nutrition, focus and prep for every day over the next 21 days.

3 hrs was good – intervals were all in line but the 4 min intervals were a little ‘hot’…need to err on the side of a bit easier.  Run:  4 miles, 28 min: 10 min 7:14 pace – 10 min 6.34 pace – 8 min 7:10 pace – avg HR 136

4 bottles: 3x water 1x GU Roctane drink.  2 Clif Bars. 

Also – my some serious commitments:  I will not compromise form for speed, pace or watts over the next few weeks.  I will not sabotage the training over the next few weeks:  I won’t force it, I won’t go too hard on easy days, I will not justify going easier because of some voice telling me I have permission.  I will focus only on getting today done…right, to the best of my ability

Tomorrow – swim 4000 yards, bike 5 hrs aerobic, short transition run….

August is gonna hurt

IM CDA Race and nutrition plan

IMCDAPre days (as of Thursday) – arrive midday Thursday (early rise on Thursday AM – but then well hydrated and good eats while driving) – upon arrival get settled/organized in order to register and go to store for food, fuel and hydration for the next 3 days. Food will be bland – but lots of it.

Friday – logistics day – swim in the morning – finalize anything needed for race, work through details – be done by noon with logistics/registration etc. Lots of hydration and clean foods today.

Pre race day Saturday– simple breakfast – then snacking lightly until big afternoon meal around 3-4pm. Sweet Potatoes, some salad, brown rice, pasta & chicken are all part of the selection. A combo of all along with good bread. Also add some Udo’s Oil (travel with it). Another snack, more simple bland foods around 7pm. To bed early but might be watching a movie, reading, watching TV. 9pm lights out usually.

Race day Sunday– Wake at 4am. Coffee – choices are bagel with butter and jam – bagel or whole wheat waffles with almond butter and banana – pancakes with jam or also some almond butter. Can also eat oatmeal with peanut butter, honey and bananas. All successfully tested choices.
Sip water – then electrolytes – then water again – all while going to race and transition etc. If hungry – eat small bites of simple white bread bagel
Depending on conditions expected – Osmo PreLoad.
Before swim have choices of a chew – some bar – or some simple drink.

Swim – no food or drink. Simple 2 loops course. Long and strong first loop after a fast start, then maintain energy and feel for stroke 2nd loop. Be alert for exit and entry after 1st loop to keep HR in balance – not go too hard or exert myself too much to elevate HR while running. Once HR goes up like that, takes too long swimming to allow it to recover.

Bike – wattages will be determined by temps and weather. If hot it might require earlier push in watts, then backing off to a solid floor number. If cool, then holding a steady wattage might be the strategy. Rolling course – will require balanced energy output: on ups keeping it controlled, but on the quick downs also keeping wattage up. This will burn legs differently – FYI.

  • Drink: water first bottle – start flushing mouth after swim and then finishing bottle 1 by 1 hour. Then alternating GU Roctane and water at a steady rate of 20-24oz per hour. If hotter then 24-30oz per hour (total cals in drink 400 but I count as 50%-200cals) – NO GATORADE ENDURANCE FOR ME
  • Fuel: no food until 30 min in: then 225-250 per hour. ClifBars to begin (250 per bar): carry 2 on bike and 2 in special needs (as well as extra different flavors) – on course are chomps and gels so no need to carry. Typical IM total kJ burned is 4400-4600, so I look to replenish 30% minimum, but closer to 1500 cals (vs. 1350 at 30%). Bars + Chomps + Gels (in that order) = 1300 cals + drink 200 cals.
  • No Salt on bike – plenty in Roctane
  • Special needs bag has back ups of all: Roctane, food and chews.

Run – off bike and relaxed, see what legs settle in at. Course is very familiar – so the goal is first to get out of neighborhoods and out onto Coeur D’Alene Lake Drive. The start paying attention to pace and turnover out on Lake Dr and back (6.8 miles). Once back into town and neighborhoods, the goal is managing body and fuel to get back out onto Lake Drive. Then 11 miles to go – push out and back. 4 sections total.

  • Drink – water every aid station, occasional splash of Gatorade but try to avoid. Depending on weather might run with own drink bottle, as well as grab a special needs. Water bottle (throw away) out of T2 in order to be topped off, flushed out and hydrated.
  • Fuel – hopefully smart calories on bike, then gel at miles 3-6-9-12-16-20 with Coke as needed mixed in at times. Always have back up of Gels I like in special needs for change in flavor etc.
  • Run is all set up by drink and fuel on bike. If good on bike then run can extend out cals and drink a bit. If not, then manage drink and food early to settle into an effective second half of run…

GEAR for the ride:

  • Swim – full wetsuit – one cap.
  • Bike – Disc with a bladed Xentis front wheel. Powermeter/Garmin
  • Run – no pace, no HR, just stop watch. Will know splits and pace based off mileage in my head

IM CDA Race and nutrition plan

Portland to SF Coast Ride | July 18-24, 2015

DATES:  July 18 – July 24.  Arrival Friday PM, the 17th as we push early Saturday morning the 18th.  We will have a fantastic group dinner to start on Friday evening in Portland.  You arrive in SF/Bay area Friday midday, July 24

ROUTE:  750 miles in 7 days.  Daily anywhere from 125 to 95 miles.  Approx 40,000 ft. of climbing, whereby most of the climbing is day 4-6.

  • Day 1 – 93 miles into Newport OR
  • Day 2 – 125 miles into Bandon, OR
  • Day 3 – 111 miles into Crescent City, CA
  • Day 4 – 106 miles into Fortuna, CA
  • Day 5 – 125 miles to Fort Bragg, CA – HARDEST DAY – 10k ft. of climbing
  • Day 6 – 110 miles into Bodega Bay/Occidental, CA
  • Day 7 – 75 miles over the GGB into SF!

PLANS:  We will only be taking 25 riders on this first tour.  We will be taking deposits in March to get riders confirmed.  Email me now to be on the early list.  It will fill!

PRICING:  This will be similar to the California Coast Ride, but with the mobile kitchen/dinner as well as extra SAG staff for this challenging route, approx. $40 more per day.

If seriously considering, please email Chris now to reserve a spot until deposits are needed.

Portland to SF Coast Ride | July 18-24, 2015

ROKA wetsuit demo and OW swim clinic. Sunday, March 15th


On Sunday, March 15th, up at the IVC pool, we will be offering a ROKA open water swim clinic and opportunity to demo these industry leading wetsuits.  Along with our usual weekly swim practice…

  • We will have plenty of ROKA wetsuits and demos to choose from with many different sizes.
  • We will simulate some open water swimming with no lanes lines and buoy swims (8-9am).
  • We will offer a longer – steady – open water ‘like’ swim practice while you are waiting to demo your suits.
  • We will have plenty of open water tips, instruction and a forum to ask plenty of triathlon swim questions.
  • Bring your own wetsuit to compare, also learn some tips on how you wetsuit should fit, how to get in and out quickly etc.

Time:  8-11am – but based on your interest to try the demos, we have the pool all morning into the afternoon. Arrive early as we will have the lane lines out and open water demo with buoy swim from 8-9am.

Discounts: There will be a specific discount code to purchase any of the ROKA suits if you attend the clinic & demo.

Who?  Anyone can attend or join – please feel free to share this.

Where: IVC is the Indian Valley, College of Marin Campus.  At the end of Ignacio Blvd. in Novato.  Outdoor 50m pool.

Cost?  $10 for the drop in to swim, demo, learn etc.  We offer this organized swim every week with 2 coaches on deck etc., so $10 gets you this and the entire swim clinic & demo day!

Feel free to email me any questions!

ROKA wetsuit demo and OW swim clinic. Sunday, March 15th

Coast Ride Observation

As I was riding the Coast last week I had plenty of time to myself, to think. I was riding sweep for a group of 28 cyclists, 495 miles down the CA coast from SF to Santa Monica.  In past years I used this ride for many different approaches to my training.  Last year it was my last prep aerobically for my 100 mile running race 12 days later – less pounding on the legs, but still 8 hrs a day of time in a HR zone.  Other years I have used it to go from out-of-shape cycling to in-shape cycling – BAM – in a matter of a week!  And, of course, there are the years where I have been fit and hammer with the front groups….key words being “already fit”…so I had my base miles in me.  After 17 years of riding a January Coast Ride, I figured it out pretty well on how it works best for me, and, I’d like to say for my athletes.  And, it keeps coming back to the same concepts…you can’t escape the base miles…

This year I finally made the decision to depart a day ahead of a bigger Coast Ride group that comes together every year.  That ride has gone from what the original Coast Ride was back in the early 90s to a mini race down the Coast.  Roadies and weekend warriors putting their fitness on the line to thump their chest that they had a solid Coast Ride….in January…!   Originally a bunch of very accomplished pro and elite triathletes started this in order to force themselves into 600 miles of easy aerobic riding back to San Diego.  It was on the Monday after SuperBowl Sunday every year, and since the 49ers seemed to be in it a lot back then, San Francisco was a fun place to be.  Besides many injuries, broken collar bones and road rash, the faster Coast Ride accomplishes very little other than going deeply anaerobic repeatedly for a couple of hours every day for 3 days (they only go to Santa Barbara, 370 miles).  That’s great when I’m preparing to race. In the winter, however, my training purpose is not race fitness; it’s base fitness. You don’t establish base fitness by going deeply anaerobic repeatedly for a couple of hours.

My notion of a base ride is a long, steady workout with heart rate mostly in zone 2. This is roughly a well-conditioned athlete’s aerobic threshold. Riding two or more hours at this effort challenges the body to make some improvements. One is to become better at using fat for fuel while sparing muscle glycogen stores. The longer your races are, the more important this shift is. The other critical shift has to do with increasing the capillary bed in the working muscles. The more capillaries you have the easier it is to get fuel and oxygen to the muscle. There are other benefits also, but for now we’ll focus on these.

The problem with this base workout is that it seems too easy at first so the athlete is tempted to abandon zone 2 and start riding variably paced with hard and easy efforts – fartlek intervals, essentially. And by so doing reduces the aerobic benefits of the day’s workout.

The aerobic threshold ride is sort of like Chinese water torture. What at first seems easily manageable eventually becomes challenging. One has to have the patience to hang in there to see what I mean. (This is one of the numerous reasons why I so often say that patience is necessary to be a good endurance athlete.) Ride for three, four, five, six hours at this effort and you soon learn what the aerobic system is all about.

Doing such a workout with a group presents problems, however. The greatest is that not everyone’s Zone 2 HR produces the same power or speed. The highly fit, usually young riders are talking easily while riding in zone 2 – as they should be. The slower, usually older riders who try to keep up are often well out of zone 2 but determined to hang on. While this workout is best done alone, if in a group the best option is for the group to split up into smaller groups of like ability – which I noticed many did during the Coast Ride – but not well enough I suspect…

The best way to do this ride is to have a power meter onboard in addition to your heart rate monitor. While in the base period I like to have athletes use their heart rate monitors to set the effort, what happens to power is the real story. The best way to explain this is to use graphics.

decoupling-01 decoupling-02
Example 1: 1% decoupling Example 2: 11% decoupling

Here you see two examples (double click for a larger view) of riders doing a steady, multi-hour, zone-2 ride. In both cases they are doing an excellent job of maintaining a steady heart rate as evidenced by the red line staying almost flat on both charts. But notice what happens to power (black line). In example 1 power closely parallels heart rate. That’s good. It says that the rider is staying “strong” throughout the ride. There is no fading of power (or slowing down, if you will, even though that’s not a very precise way to measure output on a bike). I call this separation of heart rate and power ‘decoupling.’ In fact, the graph shows us that in example 1 there was only 1% of decoupling. In other words, power declined only 1% over the course of two hours of riding.

For the rider in example 2, however, the decoupling is 11%. He is fading significantly as the ride progresses. From these two examples I can tell you unequivocally that rider #1 is in much better aerobic condition than rider #2. If all they had were heart rate monitors we wouldn’t know this. Heart rate is only effective when we can compare it with something else. By itself it tells us nothing about aerobic fitness.

So does this mean that if you don’t have a power meter you shouldn’t do this workout? No, not at all. It’s still beneficial to your aerobic system. You just can’t measure your progress or know for certain when you’ve achieved good aerobic fitness. What you can do is maintain a steady HR on a familiar loop, and watch how your avg speed drops off later in the ride (decoupling) vs. past rides where you might have been fitter – or monitor for future rides on this loop that at same constant low HR you are holding on to your avg speed better, late in the ride.  What you can always do in this case is to pay close attention to how you feel. If in good aerobic condition you should be able to finish the ride strongly, albeit tired. If you’re totally wiped after four hours and are struggling just to limp home although heart rate remains in the 2 zone, your aerobic fitness probably needs a lot of work.


Coast Ride Observation

Understanding the Pre-Season – 2014/2015 version

I wrote a similar Weekly Word last year – but I wanted to add some more insight, a new version, some new angles.

As we enter the dark months – or so I call them – the focus for training and the next event becomes difficult.  Some of us line up some winter events to keep us engaged, others lighten the load, and others take time off completely.  I have never been a fan of taking time of completely.  You work for months, sometimes even a year or more, to get to this level of fitness and being ‘in tune’ with your body, just to stop?  Yes, the brain needs a break – you can’t always be ON.  Yes, life around us needs some attention.  Yes, the body requires some rebuilding.  All of this can be achieved without being completely OFF.  And here are some reasons – some being repetitive from previous years, others being newer – for not taking off:

  1. You have all heard me say this before – why take time to get really fit, just to repeat the cycle again?  Taking time off (and this also includes the occasional run or bike or swim) puts you back to where you started, and it becomes even more frustrating retuning to fitness.  Why?  Because you have a sense & feel for what fitness feels like, so your return takes short cuts – you want it back.  If you want to progress, get ahead of yourself and your past results, you need to be ahead of your past training self.  Like they say – just focus on being a bit better each day – each week – each month.  A bit better is measured in many ways; it can be in any aspect of yourself or the sports we are training.
  2. Have you ever learned how to drive a car with stick shifting?  Those of you that have know what is like to let go of the clutch too quickly – you jump forward and stall.  Stopping and starting training is like popping the clutch.  You briefly jump, go, pop…but then you stop and stall.  Only now you are injured.  The body prefers to be training – since that allows for consistent adaptations and it helps you avoid injury.  Accelerating into a quick training build will most likely have you popping the clutch on your body.
  3. Training for endurance sports is like partying.  We used to be able to go out until 2am, sleep a few hours and be fine – maybe even do it again the next night. But as we got older, we no longer can do it.  You need & want sleep; otherwise you are wrecked for days.  Two nights in a row?  Talk to me in a week.  Our endurance training is the same.  As we get older we can no longer just put together a quick training build for the season.  We need more and more time to reach outstanding fitness.  We used to just hit it hard for 8 weeks and boom: ready to go!  Now, it requires bodywork, focus, consistency and a lot longer than 8 weeks to be ready for an endurance event!  We just need longer, gradual training builds, and too much time off just makes this all too hard to achieve without…injury.
  4. Remain attached.  It is ridiculous to think we can train at a high level year round.  The beer just tastes better when you’re not worried about getting up in the morning for a big training day or the pre-dawn run.  But, knowing you are 3-5 weeks away from ‘it’ – that feeling of being fit, fast and progressing – is what it means to remain attached.  This way, when talking about not being able to build as quickly as years past, you are not that far off at any point in time.  Remaining attached means you are fit enough to understand, feel and see (mirror/scale etc.) that if you needed to get going, you could be on your high level training within 3-5 weeks.
  5. This all said, we want a balanced season.  We want a healthy body; we want to avoid injury, as well as mental burnout.  This is the time of year to surely let go.  No powermeter, Garmin, nada.  Just listen to your body, your breathing, take in the sights and sounds of your training loops and rides.  Work on technique (light feet/land-lever-lift), cadence, relaxed feet in shoes, swim technique (send your coach videos of you swimming and swimming catch up!) – all the little items you did not feel you ‘wanted’ to address during the heart of the season.  Ride the routes you usually can’t, run the trails!  Get to know a Masters swim program.  Dial in all the training plans (track, groups etc.) so that come THE training time, you are ready.
  6. Mentally if you don’t feel it today… don’t do it.  Yes, you want your mind to have a break too, from forcing it to engage and remain ‘in the moment’, focused on your goals.  A day here or there is ok.  A week here or there is not… Exhale.  Introduce yourself to your life around you.  Sure – you might be still training, but this is the time of year to let your friends and loved ones know that you CAN be flexible…careful here though.  Just because I CAN vacuum the house, doesn’t mean I want people to know I’m good at it, and therefore have to do it all the time….

All of this of course does not apply if you are less that 32 weeks out from you’re ‘A’ race.  That would mean you are IN season, and therefore need to get on it!  32 weeks from now? late June…


Understanding the Pre-Season – 2014/2015 version

IM Hawaii 2014 – Race Report

2014 marked a return to Kona for me. It’s been since 2011 that I raced, and quite honestly – I missed it. I like racing IM – and I surely liked racing Kona. While I can get my endurance giggles out at IMs around the world, Kona has the appeal of being the World Champs, and I have discovered I like competing – racing. The last few years have been somewhat of a transformative time for me, and without going into too much mushy detail, one of the things I discovered about myself: I like racing – I like competition. I am goal oriented and so having a goal of winning my AG in Kona works for me. Not because of the prize, but because of the sacrifice being worth the result: why do this? To be the best I can be. And to me (that mirror I look at) that means I compete WITH the best in the world in my AG and around that AG. I am not shy to compete – and get beat if it was a fair, honest, clean competition…

My training for 2014 has been great. Running Rocky Raccoon 100 miler in Feb set up a great endurance platform not only for running – but the time out there doing something endurance based for 16-20 hrs. I carried a lot of fitness into IM Texas, which surprised me with an 8:59. It gave me confidence that fitness gains were there – NOW the goal became two-fold: 1) not get injured into Kona – 2) not burn out mentally until Kona.

The summer unfolded well. Training was great – body was holding up – kids were not compromised with this selfish sport. Mind and body were dancing the Kona two-step build well. As many of you can relate – balancing life’s priorities with the training and the sense of urgency in each, becomes quite a challenge. Yet it remained harmonious this summer.

October came and I was healthy, motivated and grateful for all that 2014 had brought so far. I knew Kona was going to go well, since there were no questions. I had mentioned to some folks that there was a sense of calm going to the Big Island knowing I did everything I possibly could for this race. I trained all I needed/wanted/could, I executed, stayed present throughout. I saw the times in training knowing the pace and strength was there.

Race week was incredible. Not because it was race week, but instead I managed to stay as far away from the race as logistically possible. Bringing my daughter Ruby made this great. Snorkeling, surfing, beach days, swimming with turtles, dolphins and whatever else came around on our daily trips around the Big Island. Body still felt great and come race morning all was primed for a memorable Kona.

Swim: I made one strategic mistake in my planning for the race. I got so beat up and annoyed by past Kona starts that this day I committed to starting back a few people and not swimming hard off the start. BIG mistake – I was way too comfortable early on and was able to just roll into my inside the buoy line track with relaxed freestyle. Never settled into a good speed and rhythm – and while inside that buoy line I came across WAY more surfboards and paddlers than past years – and when I say inside buoy line, I mean I am basically swimming ON the line but passing each buoy on the right – besides the turn buoys. BAM – I get smacked hard in the head – an SUP guy was backing up from others swimmers ahead and brought the paddle directly on the top of my head. Dazed and surprised I swam a few breaststrokes and gradually put myself back into race mode. It wasn’t long until I started feeling a bit nauseous – I attribute that to swallowing some seawater when getting bonked or while getting myself going from awkward breaststroke to freestyle again. The swim then just happens – I don’t feel much – remember much – I just swim. I do notice I am swimming somewhat solo – no groups around me, and know that its not because I am that far ahead…. Out of the water in an underwhelming 56 minutes.

Bike: Once out on the bike I settle in ok. The 7.5 miles in town go well, very relaxed with watts dead on where they need to be. But out on the Queen K I quickly notice that things are off: headache and some more nausea. I don’t think it has anything to do with the paddle bonk, more that I might have swallowed too much salt water. I hold off on eating and drinking to allow the nausea pass. I am confident it will. In this window though I notice huge groups of draft packs riding by…like 20-30 guys riding in big groups, sitting up. I pass penalty tents with 25-30 cyclists backed up. Yet only 5 stopwatches to hold, so people are just signing in and off they go – no 4 minutes. Riders ride past me laughing about how ridiculous it is – having conversations! I am disheartened – I am distracted – I lose focus and confidence. Not in my ability but instead where I am in the race (placing) and question my desire to push back to the front. I am feeling better now – have started eating, hydrating but am distracted by the single column of riders up to Hawi – most, practically all – riding too close, constantly looking over their shoulder to see if the motorcycle is coming. It’s a joke.

I get to Hawi and I start snapping out of it. I will make the best of this day. I will make it respectable. I let go of any visions of placing well, but I will enjoy Kona, I will honor all the training I have done leading up to this. I will get back and run a solid marathon – see Ruby – and enjoy having her here in Kona with me on the course.

I ride home with higher watts than the 60 miles prior – rising wattage ride as many of you know from my coaching. I know I can run off that – I have done it plenty in training. The course has emptied out a bit, but still see bigger single file groups riding way too close. But now I don’t care – I have resigned to this being Kona. I actually ride past two guys – big guys – look at them and say “really? – you are just going to keep cheating like this?” – and ride on. Well, Head referee Jimmy Riccitello rolls up and gives them both penalties – good.

5:12 bike – my slowest split in 8 years. Darn. But roll into T2 feeling present – good – relaxed and enjoying the race!

Run: I have one goal – run well. Not hard, instead well. Well means steady – relaxed – present – soaking it all in. Not easy, instead I want to see how it all shakes out. I actually have a tiny voice in my head that thinks I can run a PR in Kona. That would be 3:06 or better. The first few miles feel great and relaxed – as they should, I only really rode 2.5 hrs at race watts of the 5 I was supposed to! Quickly the miles start ticking off and before I know it I have run the out and back on Alii (9miles). At no point do I think of placing. I don’t ask anybody – I am really not concerned as I am committed to running well, and having a respectable finish.

NOTE: we ALWAYS regret missing time on the run. I would be lying to say I did not look at my bike time/race time and shake my head in frustration. Even the 5-7 minutes I could have pushed up to Hawi from Kuahai would have made for a better time (not result since I am not thinking result at this point). In past years I have ridden up to Hawi in 52-57 minutes, this year a solid 1:07…ugh….My thinking here is “if I run 3:06-3:10 my time is XX, but had I gotten my head out of my a$$ earlier, it would now be 9:15-9:19 which sounds nicer than 9:20+”….

I hit 10 miles in 1:09, hit 13 miles in 1:30 something…Of course I know the hard part of the course remains ahead – but I feel good about the pace & effort balance. Queen K on the way to Energy Lab becomes a steady run – with a few other guys we are just in a zombie run: emotionless, in synch, running along this desolate stretch. In the corner of my eye I notice the sign at mile 13 “no bikes, scooters, motor vehicles or spectators past this point” – they shut down the road at this point, as in past years it would become this huge entourage next to the race leaders. I think to myself: well, this is it – from here on out it is whatever result you are in – nobody is out there to tell you, help you know any different…and I am, again, fine with that. I have no idea anyways who is where or what that means anyways!

I hit energy lab, and sure enough – there is my first difficult stretch – hit a bit of a side stitch – which seems to be something common at mile 16-18. I stop and stretch it –to no avail – I get to the RedBull tent and stop to exhale a bit, grab some Red Bull and give myself 60 sec to get it sorted. Well, Caitlin Snow comes by, I grab Red Bull and a big bottle of water and off we go to run. I know the water is too much for me – so I pour half the bottle on her – get my act together again and carefully run again. As you all know with sidestitch, if you carefully, gradually allow yourself to exhale, run, relax, and shorten your stride, it slowly works itself out. By mile 19 I am back in stride. The stop and RedBull tent cost me about 2 min.

Now, usually, this is where in past Konas I have been able to push another gear. Not because of fitness, or smelling the barn. No, its usually because I am chasing someone – I have seen them on the turn and know what I am trying to catch. This year I try to push a bit, but soon I run out of ‘push’. Not desire because I keep running solid, but just not the pushing, snot blowing, grunting, driving hard effort running. I just stay steady. I even get to the top of Palani, with the last 1.2 miles downhill and flat, yet don’t crush myself on the down. I say “don’t ruin your legs, you wanna have fun tomorrow with Ruby”. I roll onto Alii Drive, Nick with Ruby are there – we take pictures, even a selfie – and I run in it into finish. I feel fine – I walk through finish area – grab my water, Tshirt, medal and head out to see Ruby…

SO – what did I learn? Where does this leave me 2 weeks out of Kona? As many of you always hear from me, I like to wait 2 weeks after IM to allow emotions to settle down, in order to take a more pragmatic approach to this all-consuming sport. I have concluded I had a variety of issues on race day:

Positioning – I usually do not see the race from this perspective. I swim off the front and can count the people in my age group (or all age groups for that matter) that pass me. I see if there is anybody out of the swim ahead of me. This was not possible in Kona this year. I lost touch with the groups ahead of me on the swim, and then the draft packs did not allow me to count the race number range of my age group. I was racing blind. Or, for that matter, I was reliant on outside information in order to know where I stand in the AG race.

Distraction – I let the race distract me. With the draft packs rolling up, and their nonchalant attitude towards cheating I was annoyed, disgusted, demoralized by the sport. I allowed my emotions of the moment to dictate my racing. Because of this I paced my day instead of raced my day.

Strategy – While drafters are always in the race, usually I am ahead of them and although they approach, catch up, even pass me – their back half is usually slower (which it was here in Kona too as I rode the fastest back half in the AG) and it puts me right back to, or at least close to, where I need to be for the run. Can you say to always just race hard? Yes, but Kona is a different animal and the depth of the field usually does not allow blind racing in order to have a top result. This applies to the pro field too – those that race hard and blind get strategically outmaneuvered by the strong runners either way.

Poor planning – while this is not something I beat myself up for, I should have had the conversation on an update with Nick, or Jordan, or Dougy T – or even Ruby. Or Taylor, Ryanne or or or. Plenty of people I knew on the course, I just never – in all my 32 IMs – have ever not known my general place and where I need to be/get to in order to have my result. And although Ironmanlive was down for a bit, and even though there are stretches where the updates are not allowed, HAD I known at mile 9, 10, 11 or 12 where I stand, the 3-4-5 minutes could have easily been found. The argument here is why not just run your hardest/best? Because there is always another gear for me when ‘racing’ vs. in your own world, head, place…

Trust – I did not trust in my strength, fitness, knowledge, and experience. I was going to Kona with the goal of winning my AG. If that is the case, I should have believed that despite things going wrong, despite falling back and the day unwinding differently, that I would not be THAT far off. I swam comfortably; I rode Z2 HR/watts the first 3 hrs. I should have trusted that despite those bike numbers and swim time I would still be near the top of the AG. I did not think with logic – I thought with emotion.

Do I regret my day in Kona? No way. I got 3rd on a comfortable day, I know that HAD I lined up against the top 2 in my AG that day – head to head or the top 10, I would have beaten them in an open competition without drafting. I had a wonderful week with Ruby, I had friends there that reinforced our friendship. I was healthy, I enjoyed the race, I smiled, I helped others, I was relaxed and did not take myself too seriously (which has happened in the past). I actually enjoyed a race day in Kona, soaking in the people and the environment. The only thing I look back upon and wonder is HAD I had the opportunity to race, to dig deep, to really push, to chase or even run scared (if I were up front) – what would that day have felt like?

In training I go through a lot of visualization, I save parts of my mind for race day in order to envision where I will be and how to be in the moment. I like to run that course in Kona with stretches of allowing my mind to go to other places (home, long training day, places I have had hard yet effective training days, etc.) in order to really push. I enjoy that process: to close my eyes in Kona and go to the Silverado trail, to go to the Pacific Crest in Tahoe, to go to my 100 miler in February. Because of my issues mentioned above – I never got into the moment of that fun process. That is part of racing. Competition. I regret not having the opportunity to dig in, to go ‘there’, to go to that dark place where you can only get to when r-a-c-i-n-g… In the moment of that day 2 weeks ago, I was ok with not being there because I was certain my placing was not significant, and therefore I should only focus on the opportunity of the day, the privilege and the fun of Kona – a perspective and view I rarely get to take in when racing the day hard instead…Don’t worry; there is a big enough voice in my head saying “excuses, excuses dude…”

With the paddle incident, and my first 2 hours recovering, it would be easy to look for the 144 seconds to 1st place there. But, there were plenty of minutes on the bike and run to have been found with the issues listed above. No excuses. 2 weeks after the race, I actually look at the paddle incident as something that could have worked to my advantage, as a blessing in disguise. Yet I did not take advantage of my day, the real estate remaining. Its hard to recognize this in the moment, but it was there – the opportunity was presented to run myself to the front, a storybook ending to win an AG. This will remain with me – that rare chance to do something special like that. If ever again, I will script it differently.

As this email went out last year after Tahoe and what I need to focus on, here too, I see the lessons learned from this day. I know what needs to be done, where the blind spots are (as always – we never stop learning). But now I need to decide whether I go back or accept that Ironman is in the business of selling emotions, not really about racing world championships like other true sporting events. This might read that I am bitter, but I am actually relieved to have gained this perspective on our sport: that it is fiction, an event created as a challenge/dare, that now has moved on to being a business. While some may argue the Olympics are a business too, the underlying sports are structured differently. You have federations, validated distances, officials that are professionals in monitoring the performances of the sport. They have been officials at national and international competitions for years, and then a rare few are chosen to be at the World Champs or Olympics. You don’t have volunteers and part time racers deciding the outcome of the world championships on the back of a motorcycle. You have an opportunity to race in your sport – to compete – not just see how the day ‘shakes out’.

Understanding all this, and having this years’ perspective, I know how to approach the race next year. Or not. But as a close friend told me the other day: “maybe Ironman isn’t done with you yet. Maybe it wants you to come back – to continue to be a part of it as a racer vs. just a coach”.

IM Hawaii 2014 – Race Report

Initial thoughts from Kona 2014

…but in Hawi I snap out of it and get back on my watts, ride back way stronger and get my head somewhat together. Problem is now I have no idea where I am for the day, I figure I get off the bike in 18-20 place. I start running with a focus on just running, allowing the run to be fun, relaxed and feeling good about running a decent marathon. At no point do I know placing, where I am or what day is unfolding in front of me. I walk a few minutes in energy lab – don’t force it since I know I am in no hurry, surely that bike and swim have me way back still. I get past my sidestitch after a mile of walk and working through it, and get going again. Just steady. I finish the last mile down hill and onto Alii just chillin and talking with Ruby. I want to enjoy it. Even once through finish chute, another AG guy behind me say he thinks we might be podium, I laugh, say nooo…only to find out it was right there. Had I known I was running down first, my run would have been different. As you can imagine, I am not happy, frustrated by no updates for anyone on IM Live, its the WORLD champs, why don’t we get to compete and race the competition ahead of us? No updates, too much drafting. Its a sad result to this race, for me and for the race. As you can imagine – I am quite frustrated…

It is the worst case scenario: too close to walk away from Kona, knowing those ahead of me might be drafters (as on the run they were going backwards) and having my day in my grasp had I only known my placing and where I was.

Way more to follow with a longer update and race report, but I wanted to share my initial thoughts, frustration and disappointment.

Initial thoughts from Kona 2014

Understanding Z2 – Part II

After the mini camp this past weekend, I wanted to take an opportunity to go into more depth about Z2 aerobic training and how it might help if I showed you my data.  This might provide some color and clarity on how to do it – why we do it – why it is so important and how, if done right – it will make you fitter, stronger and faster than ever before.

This past weekend we did an approx. 100 mile ride in Napa.  While it is quite flat by our standards in NorCal – it still had 3500ft of climbing and a bit of a nasty headwind on the last 15 miles.  So an honest 99.5 miles.  Temps reached mid 90s.

Below you see the attached ride I did.  Plenty of details in here that I will go over but first some insight:

  • It was a solid Z2 ride for me.  Not in my zone, but on steady cadence and aero position.  This is the type of ride I like to do weekly, or maybe every 10 days to remain efficient in my cycling form and work on my relaxed aero position.
  • You might think based on zones and threshold this ride was too easy for me, but it matches almost identical to this ride I did 10 days out of IM Texas.  Last 15 miles are the same watts, same cadence, same conditions of temps and wind too.  I’ll take this on the back end of a 100, and relaxed focus aero riding.  I am not looking for POWER or SPEED – I am looking to be relaxed – efficient and economical because I have a 7 mile run off the bike in a few minutes.
  • We (I) came in with 17hrs of training already this week.  I had done my quality on intervals in classes (on the trainer) and was looking for a steady, energy efficient and balanced ride.  I think you can see mission accomplished.  I averaged 5 watts more on the front 50 miles than the back
  • I had a 7 mile run after.  It was based on feel, no interest in taking Garmin with me.  But I wanted to feel light and relaxed (listened to Germany vs. Ghana 2nd half, was not as relaxed as I wanted!).  Mission was accomplished since now, 22hrs into the week, I ran a comfortable 7.20 pace (I know the distances there all by vineyards) – avg HR 133

Now that you know how it was for me – lets look at the data.  Below are three charts.  Then entire ride on watts only, the first half of ride with watts and HR, and finally, the 2nd half of ride with watts and HR although I sent this to show my HR monitor went screwy – not to hide what my HR did the 2nd half.


Chart 1: The entire ride, watts only


Chart 2: First half of ride, watts and HR


Chart 3: Second half of ride, watts and HR

  1. My T1 (aerobic threshold) is 300w, my threshold (LT – T2) is only 330w (goes to show how little time I spend in Z4!)
  2. This ride averaged 205 but normalized 220w.  NOTE:  that is 25-30% BELOW my T1
  3. My HR the first 50 miles never leaves 120.  Almost a flat line.  No decoupling from the watts – which means they stay very aligned throughout.
  4. There is one bigger climb in this ride – yet it is quite hard to see/find AND I never leave my Zone 2 (220-260w)
  5. Cadence is steady in the 80s throughout.

Why am a writing you all this?  Here goes:

Aerobic platform training is about letting go, about using watts, HR and pace as a secondary means of seeing what you are doing.  The main driver is your ability to train the volume efficiently and repetitively.  My ability to do this training day, again, and again, and again…in the following days, is set up by doing this day correctly.  Could I have gone harder?  Absolutely.  But for what?  I have plenty of training ahead that I want to layer upon this day and many days ahead.

This ride was 25% below my T1 – and also below my Zone 2 watts.  Those of you that have tested – think about your T1, and take 25-30% off that number – how often have you done 100 mile rides that relaxed and easy?

I did not care about my avg watts for this ride – nor do I care for avg speed.  Its all USELESS if not relaxed, efficient and economical for the run after as well as training days after.

I receive emails and texts frequently after workouts – but also from those doing this ride:  They feel great a few days later:  YOU SHOULD!  If you went the right effort, every day is like this!  It should not tax you for more than a good nights sleep and some fluids and fueling can’t rebuild.

People in the community of triathlon also call me a ‘volume coach’.  Yes I am – but it is a crazy effective volume IF DONE right.  As you can imagine, a day like this – relative to your watts, HR and pace – will leave you ready to do it again, and again and again.  IF you ride a tick too hard, and keep questioning, pushing the Z2 effort, you WILL be flat, tired, and quite often, injured.  The volume only works in a delicate balance.

Many of you are in the heart of your training for the A races coming up.  The key to all this is your ability to stay fit, healthy and absorbing the training throughout.  Remember – what I base my ENTIRE coaching on:

Your ability to train effectively enough to stimulate the appropriate adaptation

This ride for me hit all that:  Effective enough because I can compare it to previous rides and IM prep and see I am dead on where I want to be.  Effective enough because I had a solid run after as well as a good training day Sunday and another 5 hr bike with some work yesterday.  Effective because I am not shelled, injury free.  It stimulated the appropriate adaptation since I am 16 weeks from Kona and want to gradually build my fitness past where I was for IM Texas.

Does this all apply to your training?  Are you looking for numbers, wattages, avg speed and running paces?  The more you force it, the longer it will take.  The more you force it, the more frustrating it becomes.  The more you force it, you play on a delicate edge of injury or fatigue.

Example:  I could have ridden that at 220-260w and had my HR sit a bit higher.  Still Z2 – but more forced into numbers and at a greater cost.  I know my training days ahead.  So what was the appropriate adaptation for me?  After 17 hrs of training so far that week?  It was this ride.  I relaxed – spun steady – and still rode an efficient 100 miles in under 5 hrs.  I let it come to me.

As you are training – and see your week ahead, days ahead, consider your approach.  How are you setting up a successful week.  YOUR training, not what someone else is doing.  YOUR best week.  YOUR best adaptation.  Not past numbers, not wattages or running paces. YOUR adaptation.

Also – please keep in mind – this ride and training is effective because I nailed the intensity workouts correctly too.  In this past week I hit all the workouts as designed in the following format of STRESS:

S – Strength – hills on bike and run as well as in classes on intervals.

T– Technique – plenty of that in this ride – in classes and running with relaxed form and focus.

R – Recovery – sleep – eat and an easy day or two with active recovery swimming only or OFF

E – endurance – did this here in Napa and the day prior with a 5 hr bike and 30 min run.

S – Speed – intervals in class and tempo intervals running

Specific – This day was about as specific as I can get for IM – 100 miles + 7 mile run – all steady aerobic at same HR.

There should be plenty of conversation with me about this – please send me any of your thoughts.

*I do this ride 1x a month until IM.  It is a way for me to measure how – in a relaxed, but NOT RESTED, state I can ride a clean 100 and run 7-10 miles off the bike.  It is important for me to have bad days on this ride – mentally challenging ones.  That way I know to relax – just focus on pedal circles and let go of any data (KEY is to continue to fuel and hydrate well).  If properly tired and mentally taxed, that section of bad sensations and focused only on feel will net me a wattage.  That is my ‘bad day’ wattage.  I also want that to go up over the next 16 weeks.  Why?  Because then I know at IM, that even on a bad day, I can hold THAT number.  And THAT number becomes my floor.  By then I’ll have done it plenty – so I’ll feel good about THAT number being a realistic floor.  

Understanding Z2 – Part II

Coach Chris Hauth : Weekly Word 12/10

Hi all –

First off, Happy Holidays. We are heading into crunch time at this hectic time of year, therefore you being able to find some balance with training is pretty remarkable. I know family, work and life seem to get quite overwhelming so keep on your training. It might need to be abbreviated but at least stick to the usual AIMP motto: a little something every day….

Tucson 2014. In approximately 2 months is the AIMP Spring Training camp in Tucson, AZ. I have been coaching there for 8 years now and it is a great long weekend of training and feedback. I am working with some coaches on site to make some changes this year – so please email me ASAP if you plan to join. We will be renting houses and SAG Monkey will be cooking again, just this year way closer to our rides and easier for us to be together. Cost remains about the same as the past 5 years: aprox. $1195 for the 5 days, 4 nights all inclusive with food, housing, SAG, transport etc. So far we are 8 people. I’d like to cap it again around 12. That seems to be a sweet spot for coaching and camaraderie.

As many of you have seen, we are approximately 37 for the Coast Ride next month. Should be a great trip down the coast to San Diego!

Lastly, my weekly word:

Last weekend, during my 50 miler, I needed to make a brief, but difficult decision that I wanted to share with you. I had to pull out at mile 44, but it was not a DNF, it was a DNC. For me there is a difference between these two acronyms, and as a coach, it is valuable to share this with all of you.

We all know what a DNF stands for. But DNC? Did Not Complete. I apply DNC to an event when a bigger picture is in play. Could I have finished the 50 miler on Saturday? Yes. But with a 100 miler in 8 weeks, I wanted to be very careful on my recovery and ability to train the appropriate adaptation over the next 6 weeks. My right leg was getting quite sore (VMO – Vastus Medialis) from all the downhill running (10,000 ft of climbing on this 50 mile course) and knowing that I need it to recovery fairly quickly, I stopped at mile 44.

My training has been progressing well in that I recognized two things from Saturday: first, my progressions have been healthy. I have run 5, 6 and now 7 hrs at a time. I feel great throughout and have recovered quickly. Jumping from 6 hrs to 8 hrs in a a shorter window (2weeks) along with my usual weekly volume (approx 60 miles) would risk a bit much. Therefore stopping at 7 hrs Saturday, walking another 30 minutes down the mtn to the crew stop was a healthy decision. Secondly, my recovery has been remarkably quick. I am not sore from running 50k, 36 miles, even Saturdays 42 miles. Of course there is a deeper fatigue of sleep and hunger, but muscularly I feel nothing. No hip flexors, calves, glutes, not even IT bands are bad at all. To me this means my fitness is in line with my muscular endurance (This btw is a big factor for all of our endurance training: is your fitness in line with your muscular and skeletal fitness/endurance? More to this some other time)

Back to DNC’s – in this case they are quite important for all of us to understand. Many times in your training or racing you have opportunities to ‘open it up’, to push because it feels good, to throw caution to the wind and blow it out. While there are surely times for this, always keep your goals in mind. “Am what I am doing today jeopardizing my ability to train tomorrow or this coming week/month?”…If so – a DNC might be a better call. This applies to when we are sick (do I do the training or should I consider how this delays me getting back to full health/strength?) – or stress/life/work in general as we train. Sometimes going through the motions with the brain off, or stopping a workout early, is the best action in order to have a better tomorrow. Especially in racing this is a hard decision, since you don’t really know the answer until your A race some time in the future! In my case, I know it was good since I was able to run the days after for another 7 & 10 miles respectively.

While I am never a big fan of not ‘racing’ a race, there are surely exceptions (injury!). Would I have rather finished the 50 miler and then still do the follow up runs the next days? Absolutely. But risking a week off with a sore/hurt VMO, vs. being conservative and keeping the damage to a minimum – I am pleased with the outcome so far. More importantly I was able to move forward with my progression (6 to 7hrs at a time of continuous running) and maintain the training loads I have planned over the next 6 weeks.

I hope this helps you all in the coming season on making the best choices to have the best results possible. As always, please let me know of any questions.

Have a great week!

Coach Chris Hauth : Weekly Word 12/10

Weekly Word: The Coaching Syllabus

Every year when athletes inquire with me on being coached, I get a typical question: how do you go about your coaching? Can you give me training samples or what a typical week looks like? After coaching for 15 years now, I do think a lot of it is based on feel, intangibles and learning from previous years, plans, personal experience. BUT – I also strongly believe that coaches are educators – we help you learn, understand, embrace the training and plan that should lead you towards your goals. I have also come to learn that every teacher needs a syllabus for their school year – some basic principles by which they can format their teaching with. I have started this with my coaching over the past few years.

Many athletes might think that this means the same format year after year. But as most of my long term athletes can tell you – my coaching plans and training approach never repeats itself. The concepts of adaptation and stimulus might, but not the specific training needed to bring about the adaptation. Every year is different, but the road map rarely changes.

Let me remind you of my core mission as a coach to you: I am looking to coach you with a plan that allows you to train effectively enough (time available) to stimulate the appropriate adaptation (progression applicable to you towards your goals). Key words: enough and appropriate

Important is to also understand that this is a very general road map, but it allows me to time your season properly, stay within the phases, and build mini training plans within each phase. It also allows me to take your feedback, races and testing data and keep them in line with our timing towards that ‘A’ race. Sometimes its too late to address a specific need, so we place that need into the next syllabus…

The Road Map: We basically need 25 weeks. If you had all the flexibility of time without work, family, personal life as well as health and recovery getting in the way: 25 weeks is ideal. It follows a simple pyramid growth:

a. 8 weeks to apply the correct Z2 platform of aerobic base with 2 recovery weeks built in
b. 6 weeks to start incorporating Z3 and tempo work with 2 recovery weeks built in
c. 4 weeks for race specific steady state and race pace interval work with 1 recovery week built in
d. 2 weeks to taper and sharpen the blade

Looks quite simple right? Lets break it down a bit more:

Z2 platform: important is to come in with a solid base and the proper testing to truly apply 8 great weeks in a very tight range of watts/HR in order to maximize the Z2 aerobic platform. This is the first piece where individuality comes in: some need more weeks than others PRIOR to these 8 weeks. Those of you working with me for a season or two usually hit this within 4 weeks. Newer athletes usually require 6 weeks just to shift their energy systems to feel and understand Z2 aerobic work. Its hard to give me the feedback needed in the logs without knowing what Z2 aerobic training actually should feel like. Again: 8 weeks of aerobic Z2 work in order to stimulate the appropriate adaptation. What is enough coming in varies for all of you.

Z3 and tempo: Here is where things really become individual: The testing validates how much Z3/tempo work we will want to sprinkle in and your personal limiters help determine which discipline requires some extra attention: swimming, biking or running? Where to focus more time – what is our limiter in races? How much Z3 work, what format (cadence vs. muscular power?) – what is your appropriate adaptation – do you historically respond better to quality or quantity? The syllabus calls for about 60% still Z2 aerobic work in this phase – and 40% at Z3 tempo. So on a 16hr training week, that means 6.5 hrs of your week are Z3 tempo intervals or paces! Solid training!

Race Specific steady state and race pace intervals: even more individual training plans here: IM, HIM? Oly distance? Ultra running? Race course dynamics or profile? Temperatures (6-8 weeks out is when you want to start heat or altitude work etc.) – Depending on distance and limiters – now the ratios also change: 50% Z2? 50% Z3+ Z4? Or still 60/40? Or for IM, maybe 70/30 but the testing and your fitness gains make the aerobic work quite hard due to volume etc.

And finally resting/tapering: what works for you? How do you absorb the last phase as well as can you hold form until race day? How do we keep you sharp yet not tired?

As you can see – as your season advances, your plan becomes so much more individual and specific to you. Yet the most important ingredient for this entire syllabus is missing: your input and feedback. As we move through the season, your insights, observations, feedback, notes, and complaints are vital to make this plan effective. In order to train effectively enough to stimulate the appropriate adaptation, I need to hear from you, I need to validate our training with testing, and we need to apply in the real world of racing. This constant exchange of coaching and feedback keeps the syllabus applicable to you and allows for true progression: am I better today than yesterday? Why? Because the coach/athlete feedback loop is constantly being applied to tomorrows training plan.

And finally – what makes this syllabus change year over year, from athlete to athlete, is what I call Wedge Weeks. If we follow the weeks listed in the syllabus above, then the season starts about 30 weeks out from the A race (4-5 weeks to enter with the right platform plus the 25 weeks listed). Wedge weeks are what makes this training plan a realistic one: Wedge weeks are weeks inserted into those 30 weeks at any point in time due to injury, sickness, extra rest needed or life/family events. Any one of these reasons might require the plan to be delayed for a week or two. Work travel or a project overwhelming? Wedge Week…Sickness? Wedge Week. Family overwhelmed or Holidays? Wedge Week. Friend getting married in Bora Bora? Wedge Week.

Most of us went Pro in something other than the sport were are training for, which means we have plenty of Wedge Weeks (Pros have Wedge Weeks too!). On average I see about 6 a season…Now, the plan is 36 weeks…That means if you start this next week, your ‘A’ race is the first week of August…


Weekly Word: The Coaching Syllabus

AIMP 2011 Camp Selections

AIMP will once again off a variety of training camps in 2011, but this year we add the newer mini camps.

January 17-22 :: AIMP Coast Ride 2011 – 4 days, 565 miles, SF to LA

February 17-22 :: AIMP Tucson Training Camp – 5 days, 4 nights, all inclusive camp in the warmer confines of AZ :: see link to camp above

March 10-13 :: AIMP St. George Mini Camp – 2.5 days, focused, on course training & simulation for IMSG 2011 ::

April 8-10 :: Wildflower sailfish Training Weekend – 3 days, on site prep for Wildflower and big training weekend for IM’s in May & June ::

AIMP 2011 Camp Selections

Only the Lonely

I received some interesting feedback today regarding my coaching approach the last few weeks before the Ironman World Championships in Kona and I thought I would share my response as well as my coaching philosophy for these last big weeks prior to the main event.

We all go into an IM knowing that there will be some very difficult stages – some deep valleys as I call them. Understanding that we will be there alone, lost in our own raw emotions, feelings and resolve is an important crutch to have on race day. These last few weeks of prepping for Kona are the hardest. Our season has been long and the training partners have disappeared. Our body is tired and the days are no longer sunny & eventful. The training is familiar to us and the only remaining piece of this phase in our journey towards Kona is to execute the last big weeks, well.

But they need to be done alone – without much help – without much guidance – without much coddling – without much coaching – without much positive reinforcement from our loved ones etc. These are the weeks and workouts we will fall back upon in those deep valleys on race day. These are the workouts, because they were so hard mentally (not necessarily physically) that will creep into our mind like a slide show on race day. These are the ones that we envision ourselves running or riding while on that lonely strip of black pavement called the Queen K.

It is hard as a coach to let go of your race on race day.  I want to be out there with you – help you execute your plan and achieve your success – but I can’t.  And so these last few weeks are part of that step on sending you all out into that battle with yourself .

Anybody can stay alert, focused, positive and smile when the race is going well, when the body feels strong and the pace is according to plan.  But how have you prepared for those deep valleys?  By having practiced it and felt it in training.  You all know what I talk of – those bad training days where lethargy, self pity, annoyance and short tempers point towards what you might describe as a hard day – a bad day – a depressing result so close to our Big Day…. But most of you  have also heard from me that no all days will feel great, and not all days are designed to be a mental & physical boost.

The ability to execute when its NOT going well is called training.  The ability to get out there – find YOUR place, your rhythm, your unemotional, unattached training day, when it does not feel good – is what will prepare you for the deep valleys on race day…Train your mind and your spirit for those valleys, and may you have that race day that does not ask you to work through too many of them.

Otherwise this would all be called exercise…not training…

There are only the lonely on the Queen K come October 9th.  You might be around 2000 other competitors, but only you can have YOUR day.  Understand that it is coming, and you will already be many steps closer to achieving YOUR result.


Only the Lonely

AIMP Camps – 2011

Hi all – there will once again be a few larger training camps in 2011, but also a new addition to the offering.  Mini Camps!  After a very successful IM Louisville mini camp with 6 athletes, I will be offering more of these in 2011 – small group – very focused 3 days on site of IM races:  St. George – CDA – Louisville – and Kona!  More to follow.  Until then mark your calendars:

  • Coast Ride 2011 – January 18-21. Four days from SF to LA.
  • AIMP Spring Training Camp – Tucson, AZ – February 11-15.
  • AIMP Summer Training Camp – Lake Tahoe region – July 4th weekend – Donner Lake, CA

More to follow but for now we are lining up some dates!

AIMP Camps – 2011