Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Quality Feedback

In coaching, feedback is a highly sought after commodity.  Coaches ask their athletes for feedback on how training sessions went for them.  Athletes ask for feedback in return from their coaches on how they are doing.

What gets lost however is a clear understanding of what quality feedback really is.  As an example, I often ask my clients to tell me how specific sessions or a week of training went for them in hopes they provide me some insight that will allow me to make adjustments to their training based upon the feedback provided.  In 6 out of 10 instances I get back "fine", "good" or "okay".  It is tough to determine much from that response.

In 3 out of 10 instances, I get a highly detailed report which often necessitates pouring a cup of coffee.  Truly enjoyable reads and lots of insight provided from which I can offer back feedback, praise, solutions to problems arising or address something the athlete may not have known was an issue.  Reading a historical perspective of a week's training logged with detail allows me to see patterns of positiveness as well as negativeness.  Perfect starting points for meaningful discussions and addressing potentially season ending issues.

What does the final person report with?  Nada.  Silence.  These are the difficult athletes to work with as we know very little of what is happening in their training and life.  Silence is a killer.

Starting in the fall of 2012, we will be utilizing Training Peaks software as a means to communicate with all our Customized Clients.  In the trial period thus far, I have found it a highly valuable tool to prescribe training programs, receive power meter or GPS files and receive and provide comments.  I have been using it myself and I find the accountability in logging my files and comments to be highly motivating.

The Endurance Coaching Team is expecting each of our athletes to diligently record, upload and post their data and comments in a regular manner so as to allow their coaches the ability to modify and adjust training programs in a more timely manner.

Uploading power or GPS files allows the coach to see what you actually did or did not do.  If a higher average or peak power value is recorded, we can inform the client of it and perhaps modify their training zones.  The same for running in which the software can calculate the impact of running on an uphill gradient had on your session.  The athlete may have thought they "sucked" that day but in fact when variables were factored into the equation, we can report back that no you did not "suck" today and were right where you needed to be.

Needless to say we are excited to offer this service starting this fall which will increase the communication between our coaches and athletes!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Calgary 70.3 Recap

Two weeks ago I had the privilege to present to a room of 20 triathletes on the topic of "Establishing Your Training Plan For A Great Calgary 70.3 Experience". There were some great questions from the audience which showed they were engaged in my talk!

The following are some highlights of my presentation for those who have requested a summary;

GENERAL GUIDELINE: target an 8-12 week block of training comprised of approximately 10-12 hours/week of consistent training spread out across the week versus doing 70% or more on weekends.

Don't over think the Periodization plan with complicated bi-weekly totals but rather strive to perform training daily.

Identify opportunities to train that are not influenced too often by “life” to ensure a consistent weekly pattern and schedule these as your training days.

If there are specific days that you struggle to get in any training simply schedule them as rest days.

Training Periods

March 5th – May 27th: Consistent 10-12hours (+/- 2hours) per week primarily aerobic training.

May 28th – June 3rd: Planned recovery week.

June 4th – July 16th: Progressively bigger volume weeks 14-17hours (+/-2hours) per week with
more specific training at race pace/intensities.

July 17th – 28th: Taper period. Maintain the frequency and intensity of training sessions
but reduce the per session duration by 30-50%. Highly variable and
dependent upon the overall amount of training you have done.

Training Considerations

Identify the discipline you struggle with the most and address it early on in your training versus closer to the event.

Many people focus too much training time on the swim and neglect the bike and run more so.

Considering the swim takes roughly 11.6% of the overall race duration, the bike ~51% and the run ~36% (based on an average age grouper’s finish time), one can see that more time can be made up on the bike and run. Now if you don’t know how to swim then spending more time on it early season is a definite priority.

The bulk of one’s training should be comprised of aerobic training. It is highly valuable to get a fitness test done in order to help establish what your actual aerobic training zones are and ensure you are not working too hard all the time with either heart rate or power output and running paces. Knowing your numbers will enhance the use of the many training devices athletes possess.

Training too hard or too much which leads to excessive fatigue and therefore time off hinders the process. A balanced approach allows for this consistency and helps offset large pits of fatigue. This isn’t to suggest you avoid higher intensity training as it has a place in your program but shouldn’t be the mainstay of your training for long periods of time and must be utilized carefully.

Body Maintenance

Recovery is an important component of training and doesn’t always mean a day off. Active recovery sessions, massage, stretching, yoga, core and general strength training all help keep your body in tip top shape. Strength training should not however detract from your training but rather supplement it.

Listen to our body and understand the varying levels of fatigue caused by the training you do. Detect patterns or trends and know that life stress has a dramatic impact on your recovery and influences your performance.

Sleep is vital as it is the true time in which we regenerate our body. Make sure you get enough and don’t get in a pattern of sleeping less just to achieve weekly training targets.

Many people are under recovered versus over trained. Life stress can contribute to this in a dramatic way.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Saturday September 17th Ride

Hi everyone, thank you to those who have confirmed attendance for this weekend's ride. We are a GO! See everyone down there on Saturday.


Monday, September 12, 2011

70.3 World Championships Las Vegas 2011

Congratulations to ETS coached athletes Jeremy Broughton and Jim Fry for completing the 70.3 World Championships event on September 11 2011 in the new race location of Las Vegas.

Jim finished 3rd place in his division despite having had a set back the past month and a half due to a serious foot injury. Jim will next be competing in Kona at the Ironman World Championships on October 8th. Good luck Jim!

Jeremy finished 89th in his division and posted a respectable 5:02:25! I am thrilled for Jeremy's accomplishments this season as he has met each of his racing objectives despite juggling a travel intensive work schedule and family responsibilities. He has been a great athlete to work with and motivates me to keep training and not lose sight of the big picture. Congrats Jer and thanks for being a great person to work with!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

“The Deadly Sins of Triathlon – 2011 Season Celebration”

In celebration of the 2011 Triathlon season coming to a close, Cathy and Hillary are hosting a get together prior to the fall training season.  We would like you to come join us and celebrate whatever successes and triumphs came your way on the bike, run and in the pool as well as indulge in those things you may have given up for the tri season.


We are hosting a two-part get together on Saturday, September 17th.  The first is a potluck of those items you-dare-not-touch during tri season and then we are going to gather at the Rose and Crown to celebrate with a drink or two and some live music.  Spouses and significant others are more than welcome.


Potluck: 6:00-8:00PM

Five West, Phase 2, 910-5th Ave SW


Drinks to Follow: 8:30PM

Rose & Crown, 17th Ave & 4th St SW


Please RSVP to Hillary (hhigigns@brookfield.com) or Cathy (cathy_stanford@hotmail.com) prior to Monday the 12th so we know who to expect.  We hope to see you next Saturday for all or part of the evening!


Hillary & Cathy






Tuesday, September 6, 2011

September 17 2011 No Drop Group Ride

I have planned a group training ride for Saturday September 17th 2011 in the beautiful rolling region of south Calgary. We will ride the famous “Road to Nepal”, local HWYs and back-roads in pursuit of short rollers and hills! Road bikes are encouraged but triathlon bikes will be welcome.

This is a no drop-ride however let’s not plan to be out there all day! This means it is a no hammer day and we will regroup many times and finish together.

Total distance is roughly 71km. Planned route is below;

View Larger Map

Please have adequate food and hydration with you along with spare tubes, pump, tools and clothing appropriate for the weather that day.

We will meet in the grassy parking area at 37th St SW and Spruce Meadows Trail SE.

Time: We will begin at 9:30am.

Please RSVP to Jack at jvandyk@talismancentre.com by September 14 2011. If there is not enough interst the ride will be cancelled.

I will post a confirmation on this blog that we are either riding or not riding by 5pm September 15 2011 so you can make alternative plans if need be.

Let's get out and ride folks!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Hello all,

With race season well under way and 70.3 this weekend, I thought it would be a great time to do an open water swim. This Thursday, July 28, instead of the regular swim run workout, there will be an open water swim session available to the first 20 people to respond to grantburwash@gmail.com.

Tushar has graciously offered to open up Lake Bonavista for us to use. We will meet at 6:30pm Thursday night (May 28th) at the address below. Wetsuits will be required and I will be in the water with you to provide feedback, support and a little push. Hope to see you there and all the best to those of you racing this weekend.

Here is the address -

757 Lake Bonavista Dr SE, Calgary, AB T2J0N2

The link below can provide directions -

The general direction - From Anderson Road East take Acadia South. On the first set of lights, you will see Esso gas station on the right. There is small shopping center behind it and lake entrance is behind the shopping center.