IRONMAN Wisconsin Race Report


IRONMAN Wisconsin 2019 was a fantastic day, one that I am incredibly proud of. IRONMAN is when you find out what you are made of. IRONMAN is when you discover if you are out there for the right reasons. 

Leading into race day, I was feeling the most relaxed and confident in quite some time. When people would ask me how I was feeling, I could confidently say “excellent”. 

The changes I made into this IRONMAN

  1. My long runs, I never emptied the tank. The sessions were steady but rarely insane. The final six weeks to race day I made sure never to test myself and put in stress that would haunt me on race day. The last eight weeks are the most stressful on the body as your volume is at its peak, and inserting too much intensity is hard to shed on race day. Commonly when you see people underperforming on race day, it can be pinpointed to the run training into the race.

  2. I didn’t taper the bike or swim volume into the race. The weekend before the race I still rode 4 hours with 2 hours of quality. Monday I again swam 4k in open water. The only tapering I did was Monday-Wednesday. These three days were enough to shed the fatigue in my legs and by Thursday I was doing my standard Thursday/Friday bike block of tempo work. I didn’t do the same level of volume of intensity, but it was enough to make me feel like I was building into the race.

Standing at the swim start, I was excited to go. The training is done; my body felt great; my mind was ready. I noticed that the paddle boarders and kayakers were having a hard time staying in one place; they were continually pushing backward. This was the sign that our swim was going to be rough. Every Tuesday we have open water swim practice and I’ve never seen Lake Monona like this. Where there are waves in Lake Monona, there will be wind for the bike. I’ve never felt stronger and confident in the swim. I felt strong until the finish. 

The bike was challenging with the wind and nutrition changes. My original plan was to consume smaller bottles early as I knew it would be cold then settle into 24-30oz of fluid for the rest of the bike. By 30 miles into the bike, I had already peed twice. I went through 16oz of liquid and peed twice more. Luckily I don’t consume calories through fluid, only electrolytes. I was able to get in my planned 400 calories per hour of gel. When I got to Cross Plains, I hit the train tracks and my front tire exploded. IMWI was the 2nd triathlon this year I’ve flatted in, and it never gets easier. I changed the tire quickly only to have my tube explode when inflating it. When the bike support got to me, we found a gash in my front tire which would explain my 2nd tube blowing. Thankfully they put a new tire on and I was off. 

I was off my bike for 24 minutes. It felt like forever. All I could do was watch everyone ride by me. But I never thought about quitting. I didn’t train this hard to stop. What was I expecting? To have no adversity on race day? My legs were not injured; my body was fine. No excuses. Yes, I was disappointed. I saw Cindi on Old Sauk and let out some good tears. However, after that moment I was back on track. 

At the Athlete Dinner, one of the messages delivered was “Only you decide if you are having a bad day,” and this was in my mind after my mechanical. I have no reason to have a bad day. I could make this a good day if I wanted. I didn’t spend my Saturday’s away from my family to quit. They allowed me to have a great day and I set out to do precisely that. 

The run went phenomenal. It was my faster IRONMAN Marathon at 3:24. I couldn’t have been happier. 

The whole race I felt grateful for the opportunity to be challenging myself. I felt grateful for everyone who was cheering for me and offering support. To everyone who encouraged me, thank you. 

To Madison Multisport for being so supportive and uplifting. Grateful.

To Amanda Marek for achieving her dream of qualifying for Kona. Winning her age group and winning the entire female AG race. I was getting so much inspiration from hearing her updates.

To Ken and Michael for being everywhere on the bike and run course. Grateful.

To my family for being out there all day cheering me on. Grateful

To Cindi and Lucy for the constant love and support. For pushing me out the door to train more when I didn’t want to. For providing me with the desire to become better. I am so fortunate to have a family that supports my goals. I completely lost it when Lucy ran up to me on the run, looking for a hug. My eyes were filled with tears. Grateful. 

Sunday was a great day.


Winning USAT Age Group Nationals


This opportunity to be apart of a team that wins the Age Group National Champion doesn't come very often. I still remember seeing the results of the race and letting out a stream of excitement. As a coach, the messages I try to get across to every athlete are:

  1. Achieve consistency, no matter what. Even if it means slower and less work.

  2. Don't focus too much on the long term. Immerse yourself in the daily details to achieve consistency.

Rachel Creates Success

Rachel is very competitive and incredibly intelligent. She does her research. She knows the courses. She knows who she’s racing. She knows where every QOM is in Madison (A true Strava hunter!). Also, what I like about Rachel is that she does have an off switch with triathlon. She isn't afraid to have a beer and burger. I would say that she is 90% committed to being excellent and this is, in my opinion, the reason she is the best age grouper in the nation. When you immerse yourself too deep, too frequent, your chances for burnout go up. You essentially lose your life balance and Rachel has the right balance on life and triathlon. 

Rachel Shows Up

In 2018 Rachel was 9th overall and 3 minutes away from the overall win at Age Group Nationals. At 2018 ITU World Championships she was 5th Overall (3rd AG) and less than 2 minutes away from the overall win. 

These two results showed that big things are possible. The work that went into the 2019 offseason was not fancy. It was very routine every week. 

The main focus for Rachel in 2019 was 

1) Stay healthy running 

2) Achieve consistency in training 

3) race more competitive events. 

I felt that because Rachel is still new to triathlon, we needed more underlying work that would provide her the ability to race harder and longer. We avoided big spikes in training hours and just focused on training. We only had two hard run sessions a week. The rest of the runs were ceilinged at 8:00 per mile, no faster. These changes allowed Rachel to remain healthy, unlike in 2018 when we pushed too much and dealt with reoccurring injuries. 

If you are injured, you are not training. We would finish up hard Tuesday PM Bike/Run practice and Rachel never missed Wednesday AM swim workouts.

Communication Builds Champions

When training isn't going well, I hear about it. When something is bothering her, I hear about it. This level of communication is the foundation of success. There is no hiding workouts, thoughts, or agendas. That builds mistrust. I am open to Rachel training with other athletes and groups. If it allows her to be better, it makes sense. I am far from a controlling coach. I am the middle person who overlooks her stress levels. Communication is critical if you want success. Sometimes communication can be hard, but when she is standing on the top step, it's worth it.

Less is More; More is More.

Because Rachel's triathlon age is still quite young, I need to train her accordingly. Rachel has a good swimming and running background, but when combining all three at a high level, we needed to be careful. Less training is commonly better than more early. Doing more when the body isn't ready to accept it will result in fewer adaptations and more injuries. Rachel is also a very explosive athlete and in my experience, these athletes can be more injury-prone. Also, understanding Rachel's physiology allows me to balance her intensity buckets better. We don't need to do as much high intensity running as we do tempo/threshold running. 

Once we found the least amount of work possible needed to achieve results, we did quite a bit of training at this threshold. It's not as if we are lazy, Rachel trains a lot and hard, but its enough for her at this time. The acceptable load of an athlete changes as they change. So find your optimal training dose, train as much as you can at it, and slowly increase. Less is more because it allows you to train more. 

Always Close to Peak Fitness

With short course racing, I don't believe in extensive builds to achieve peak results. I am a firm believer that an athlete should be no more than 4-8 weeks away from a peak race in a four-month period. Short course racing is different than long course racing and the training is slightly different, as well as the mentality. When preparing for shorter events, you should always be developing different buckets of intensity and specificity while maintaining a substantial level of base work. When you get closer to a race you start to add more water in certain ones but never going full in on one. Plus, Rachel needed more experience racing and when naturally racing to win, she needs to be close to your peak form. 

In the final period before Nationals, there was never a workout when we said "Yes, that's it, you are ready" as I feel those moments are risky. We didn't go seeking confidence in workouts. There was just the confidence that she was healthy, focused, and more experienced.

Also, I've never been a fan of formulating a big game plan before triathlons. I don't believe athletes remember them and they do more harm than good. Before the race, I sent her a message saying, "You know what you need to do and how to do it. You've done it and you've done it well. So tomorrow is about going out there and doing it again."

And she did. Better than anyone else.

In conclusion, I feel incredibly fortunate to work with Rachel. It's not often a coach works with the USAT National Champion. To win this race is a tremendous honor. If coaches are reading this, I hope you found this helpful and feel free to reach out if you have questions.  

Winning Door County Sprint


Winning Door County Sprint was special. Its not often you have the opportunity to win an overall race. It takes a village and special thanks to Cindi, Lucy, our Madison Multisport Teammates, and High Performance Advisor, Wheel Renter, and Motivator @imkenwood ----

This was the 4th year i’ve raced in Door County and i’ve always raced the Half Ironman Distance. Since having our daughter my racing schedule has changed to where I can’t race every event under the sun. The events I choose have to make sense for our family. Happy Wife, Happy Life. Last year I raced the Half Distance when Lucy was 1 and it was an extremely stressful weekend for our family and promised to not do that again.


#1 Did Well: Swim warm up in choppy section of race. I saw that it was going to be choppy past the breaker wall and this has always been a moment of weakness for me. I warmed up a total of 400 before the race. I swam to the breaker wall and did 2 50 efforts into the waves and around the buoy to feel the transition of smooth to wavy water. During the race, this didn’t effect me at all. I knew what was coming and how to handle it

#2 Did Well: Focused solely on technique and sighting. I was in 3rd place for much of the water and knew I was doing well. I was focused on my counting, my catch phase, and my sighting. Swimming a straight line helps. Duh

#3 Did Well…Transitions: I worked on them in the days leading into the race. I often overlooked them. This time I had some of the fastest transitions

#1 Didn’t Do Well: Mental Space on the bike when I didn’t have the legs or power. I was negative. Really negative. It amazes me how quickly I go into the negative thinking when something isnt going to plan. This DOESNT happen in training, but snakes out in a race.


Take aways for the final 7 weeks into IMWI

1. Don’t panic

2. Don’t do anything stupid

3. Don’t feel the need to prove my fitness every weekend

4. Bike alot

5. Swim alot

I'm Not Improving, Part 1

This is so frustrating. 

I'm putting all of this work in with no return. 

Is this worth it. 

Maybe endurance sports aren't for me. 

I could be doing more with my time. 

I'm so slow.

Everyone is faster than me. 

These are the words I hear too often as a coach. I see them typed on social media, I listen to them whispered to friends, and I see it in athletes' eyes and body language. As someone who spends their day investing in others, listening to other people's stories, it is hard to witness such discouragement. Endurance sports can be enjoyable with the right mindset. Endurance events are an accumulation activity and what you put in, you will get a return. However, you need to be in the right mindset to reap these rewards. 

I was coaching an open water swim class this morning and this topic came to mind. The three main reasons people don't improve boil down to 1) Measuring 2) Effort 3) Expectation; and today I will focus on the foundation point, measuring your fitness.

  1. Measuring

In my experience the people who are discouraged continuously don't measure their training, so they have no clue how fast or slow they are going. They measure their effort off of other people which undoubtedly leads to dissatisfaction. Hot tip, there will always be someone faster than you, so this isn't a consistent measuring point. Using others as motivation is also a short term fix. You are ultimately out there for yourself. 

We coach six swim sessions a week that have ranging abilities. I was working with an athlete who stopped mid-workout to express dissatisfaction in how little they felt were improving. My heart sank as this is a horrible feeling as a coach. I asked, "how fast was your last 100 repeat?" The athlete responded, "I don't know." I took a moment and replied, "How do you know you are not improving if you don't know your speeds?" and the athlete responded, "Well, this person has been swimming faster than me."

Here lies the problem with group training, its a constant measure of your rank, which feels like a measurement of your worth even though it’s not. I am swimming the slowest which doesn't feel good, which must mean I'm not improving. A reoccurring observation is that athletes know their running pace but don't know their swimming pace. This is a reason people don't like swimming.

As a coach I know my athlete's swim paces. I time intervals of each athlete throughout practice and thankfully I happened to time this person's last interval. I reminded the athlete that when they first started, they were swimming at 2:00 pace for 100 repeats and this previous 100 was a 1:50. There was a moment of silence as this information was sinking in. The athlete was improving all along but never realized it. I stood next to this athlete the rest of the practice providing splits for the main set. The motivation for the remainder of the swim was something we never saw before; the athlete only got faster the rest of the class! The only difference was being more engaged in the process of swimming. 

This concept is not rocket science, but you need to know your ability. You are waking up every day to better yourself, and the only way to receive productive feedback is by measuring yourself. If you are an athlete, you should be doing tests in the swim, bike, and run throughout the year. It is imperative for long term success. 

Coach Steve

If you are interested in coaching, click on the link HERE


Race Report: American Triple T


American Triple T was everything I thought it would be plus a few more. 

I knew of this extreme grassroots race from Cindi, my friends Justin, Ken, and Tim and always wanted to attempt it but the timing was always difficult. When Cindi gave me the green light I was pumped but immediately fearful. The right kind of stress. New race, new format, big early season fitness. Would I be ready?

140.3 miles of racing over 3 days/4 triathlons. Over 10,000ft of elevation gain.

Day 1: Super Sprint. The theme for me was to keep it under control and i did just that. 


Day 2: AM Olympic distance. Friday we discovered that Michael’s di2 rear derailur motor was broken and there was no way to fix it before the race. He was going into Saturday’s race with 2 gears. When we left the cabin in the morning i discovered that my di2 was completely dead. I had 15’ before transition closed to charge it. That 15 minutes was dreadful. I sat on the couch with my head in my hands. I was able to get some energy into it but as i mounted my bike after the swim portion… the battery was dead. 2500ft of climbing in my 53/19, not ideal. I made it to mile 6 before i said “(explicit) it” and turned around. It took me 2 minutes before i turned back around and reminded myself that i was here to challenge myself, not to give up. In these tough moments I often think of Cindi and Lucy. The time i’m away from them to DNF? How could I explain that, you can’t. If you can finish, you finish. I owed it to them as much as myself. I knew i could finish the bike, so i did. I never got too upset. I took it for what it was, a poor mistake. Because some of the hills were so steep I had to walk my bike 3 times while having over 200 people ask me “are you ok?”. As I walked some of the hills I would just laugh to myself and think “I’m now that person who forgot to charge their di2”. I was certain my legs would be toast after riding 25 miles with an average cadence of 50 but they felt good for the run! After the race, i didn’t fret. I was having fun. A shitty day is better than a DNF. Then sense of overcoming a mistake is better than the feeling of quitting. Go Steve Go.

Race 3: Olympic (bike, swim, run)... my di2 was recharged and so was my motivation. I had frustration to burn so I went full gas the whole second race. I was in the hurt box by mile 2 of the bike and loving it. With the swim happening after the bike i chose to wear my Blueseventy Core Shorts. The air temperature was in the 80s so the swim felt refreshing. I loved the swim coming 2nd as it was different and fun. As Michael and I sat in the tent post race, there wasn’t alot of talking. We were both just staring and the occasional chuckle. A chuckle that meant, “What did we sign up for? How are we going to do a half ironman tomorrow?” Our legs were shaking and mentally there wasn’t much left. We just sat there in silence. A solid second day.

Race 4: Half Ironman. I woke up with two feelings, excited and scared to death. I was ready for the challenge of this half distance course, i’ve been thinking about it for months. 4000ft of climbing for 56 miles and 1000ft on the run. We were given all of that elevation gain. At mile 17 I felt the dreaded THUMP… THUMP… THUMP. My second ever flat tire in a race. From what happened with my Di2, a flat tire was nothing. I was in a good mindset that i just got off and fixed it. No frustration, no swearing. I didn’t give up, make excuses or “mail it in”. I got back on my bike and found my rhythm again. I kept telling myself, “let’s keep this challenge going”. The run was hard, that’s when the accumulative fatigue hit me the hardest. The run course was absolutely brutal with the constant hills and sun exposure. I didn’t mind running the exact same route every race, the better I know a route the faster it seems to happen. The 1st loop i was in a mental and physical rut but something clicked the 2nd loop and i was moving. My mindset the first loop was “Oh (Explicit) this is so hard” “My back is killing me” to “I can (explicit) do this” “I feel amazing” “Lets go!”. I ran 3’ faster the 2nd half and it was effortless. When you think negative thoughts, negative things happen. When you refocus to the process the pain can disappear. 


It’s amazing what you can put your body through in 3 days. Looking back on the entire weekend I’ve come to the conclusion that I wasn’t physically prepared enough to meet my goals going in. I was too inexperienced. I mainly lacked the strong bike miles to run well off it. My ambitions didn’t match my fitness. I was out performed in every aspect, every day and i knew it during the races i was going strong. I wasn’t even close to where I thought i would be. Days later as i sit and reflect I get more moments of frustration than pride. My thoughts continually switch from “you should be proud of yourself” to “Is what your trying to do even worth it? What’s the point.” 

However, this is why we race. This is why we train. This is why we step outside the uncomfortable zone. When you try and take the first step its scary to where you are dangling that leg out thinking “no no no I can’t do it”, but once you center your mind and take that step it’s incredibly freeing. We expose ourselves to reality of success, disappointment, failure, humiliation, criticism which all can turn to growth if you treat it right. This race was outside my comfort level. It was amazing. It was special. It was hard. It was rewarding. It was exactly what I needed.

How My Training Has Changed

When I first started with triathlon my primary goal was making the distance, not to “race it”. I talk to my athletes about being able to see the finish instead of swarming yourself with the “how can i complete the swim” mentality. This is very normal with newer athletes because each discipline is daunting and no matter what i say, they simply have to experience the race and distance to feel more confident. Especially for people making the jump to the longer distances. When I did my first Ironman in 2010, even though I had already qualified for multiple 70.3 world championships the distance of the Ironman intimated me to where many of my swims, bikes, and runs were all at or above my desired race pace. I did this to prove to myself that I could accomplish the distance. I was literally searching for confidence every weekend! 

When I trained like this I would determine the outcome of my season through EVERY SINGLE session months in advance of my Ironman. If the session went well I was confident. If my session sucked, I was instantly regretting everything i’ve done and rethinking a new plan. So dramatic! If i was ever hurt I was already on WebMD diagnosing I had a stress fracture. I was an emotional roller coaster!

I’ve heard this phrase “endurance training is alot of general conditioning with a tad of specificity” and I really enjoy it because its how I coach and how i view my own training from a physical and emotional stand point. I never get too emotionally high or too low. If you are too far on the specificity side than you are dialed in too often and that creates injury, burn out, and emotional swings. This isn’t healthy. YES, you should compare and track your sessions but not every week. I find that people go full specificity mode when training starts to get feel good. They get motivated, they’re seeing improvement, then they blast it all of the time, every session! Then they quickly find themselves tired, exhausted, and needing a break. They forgot what type of training got them to this great shape. Think about it…

What training in a more general sense brings is greater enjoyment, more fluctuation of training intensity, longevity with athletes, and fewer burnout. Training in a general sense allows you to just go out and ride! No structured intervals, just ride! This is why in key long rides I commonly split sessions between specificity focus versus kilojoule focus. When its specificity focus it may be something like, 3x30’ @ IM/70.3 Power and when its KJ focus it may be, “get your KJ budget in however you want” and many times people enjoy this approach because you can either go short and hard or long and easy. General training does NOT mean training with no plan, structure and make it up as you go. That’s just an excuse to be lazy. Don’t switch your focus every month off of what you read or whats being spewed by the Youtube experts. Being general means have greater long term approach and higher fluctuation in the intensity you’re training at. Find a coach who doesn’t flip flop like a pancake. The ones that hold steady but are flexible to your situation are the best coaches.

Also, with a more general approach you don’t experience as much fatigue build up from all of the long hard demanding sessions. These are the “look at me sessions” you do to look good on social media. I was as guilty as anyone for doing these sessions. I remember doing a session that was 100 miles at IM watts followed by 13 miles running at desired IM run pace (6:45s). You know where that got me? On the couch for a week. The big sessions don’t create the fitness, the weekly consistency does. Those sessions may feed the lack of confidence, but they increase the physical, emotional, and hormonal damage. Also, these sessions create the greatest fatigue which is the reason athletes underperform on race day. Too many hard long training days, too frequent, too close to the race. You enter the race so deeply fatigue you have nothing on race day. Commonly you see people firing on all cylinders during this phase but miss time the stress dosage and show on race day mentally and physically fried wondering why they couldn’t reproduce the magic on race day. I get it though, you’re fit and ready and want to show it… but don’t show it every weekend in training, save a little. The big training days are OK, just not every week.

Now that I no longer have the fear of completing the distance, I’m more cautious during training intervals and my pacing. That doesn’t mean I don’t train hard, I certainly do at times. It just means I don’t go above my prescribed ranges to prove anything. I also go way easier on my easy and endurance training sessions. This approach seems to work as I never get down after a bad session, I don’t take it personally, I just role with the training to build consistency. When you finally get over the “make every session count” mentality, you open up a sense of relaxation and freedom.

My take aways:

  1. Not every long ride is a chance to prove yourself

  2. Going slightly easier will help you in the long run

  3. If you are always going hard, you really aren’t training hard enough

  4. Have a beer, wine, cheeseburger every once in awhile. 

Hope you enjoyed reading!

Race Anxiety: 2 Weeks to American Triple T

American’s Triple T is 2 weeks away and i’m officially stressing out. 

Here is the layout for TTT:

Friday: Super Sprint

Saturday AM: Olympic

Saturday Afternoon: Olympic (Bike, Swim, Run)

Sunday: Half Ironman

All 4 races will equal an IRONMAN distance. I mean, what the heck was I thinking? Then when you add on the difficulty of the course it adds another level of worry. The bike leg for each Olympic Distance is shown at 1,800ft of gain. The bike leg for the 70.3 shows 4,500ft of gain. Over 3 days of “racing” we will be climbing over 8,000ft on the bike and close to 1,000ft on the run. WHAT WAS I THINKING?

In all seriousness this is exactly what I wanted to spice up my early part of the season. Too many season’s i’ve mapped the same progression with sprints, olympics, then a 70.3, then an IRONMAN. I got bored. I needed a new challenge. I needed to train harder and different. Triple T has provided me the fear needed to be in good shape in June. It’s the best June shape I have been in since 2010! My plan is working!

I’m currently dealing with race anxiety. One way I am seeing this is through wanting to over train and never take a break from hard training. Who needs rest days? Why would i ride my bike under 70% of FTP? Why would I run slower than 8:00 pace? I tell my athletes that the final 8-12 weeks to your A race is when your injuries will happen. It’s because you start to push the recovery runs and rides too hard. You are trying to eek out just a tad more fitness. Stephen Seiler who is one the best sports scientists explains that over training happens when all of your training starts to become “simply hammering” and this is when you lose all training benefits. You’ve lost the balance because you want to feel accomplished only to underperform on race day. I’ve become good at catching myself and sticking to my recovery efforts and using HR on my recovery days and keeping it below 75% of max HR. I also do all my recovery runs with our dog Cedar which includes many walk breaks, pee breaks, and nature viewing. Its a perfect distraction from all the data points. 

I was talking with an athlete yesterday about how to avoid underperforming when it matters the most and i boiled it down to two areas. 1) Setting too high of expectations for your race 2) Focusing too much on what you want versus what can you do. 

It’s amazing what people imagine or feel they can do versus the physical reality. You can tell everyone your big goals but if you dont have the thresholds or aerobic capacity to hit them then you won’t on race day, and that self realization will creep in. BUT if you go into the race with realistic expectations that you will feel confident. Its like thinking you want to Boston Qualify at 3:00 but have never run a long run at sub 7:00 pace. Or trying to Kona Qualify at your first Ironman. Plus, if your motivation for racing is Boston or Kona than you’re already setting yourself up for disappointment. Your race motivation should be on personal performance, achieving your potential, not BQ or KQ.

How am I getting through these next couple weeks? Simple. TrainingPeaks and visualization. I will look over my previous workouts and see what i’ve done in the past 3-4 months in swim, bike, and run. Then go into the % i think i can sustain off of those. If i race an Olympic at 90-95% of FTP, should I race TTT at 80-85%? I will also visualize the process of my swim stroke, my nutrition execution, transitions. I’m not trying to figure out silly swim, bike, or run times. They don’t matter. Who cares. That’s not the point. The point is execution not end result. Even typing this out helps me relax more than where I was before I started this!


Another Step Forward


Since returning from our Arizona Training Camp my training has been going very well. I’ve been putting in 600-800 TSS weeks, 4-5x weekly swims, 4-5x weekly bikes, and 2-3x weekly runs, and 2x strength sessions at Functional Integrated Training. 

First thing you may notice is that i’m not running much. At first I had a hard time with this but ultimately it came down to reality, need, and time of season, and absorption. Outside of the final build to a big race, you rarely you aim to have perfect balance in all 3 sports. Why not? Unless you are very balanced in all 3, you should be focusing on improving one area which means you need to lower another. Commonly swim and run fitness don’t work well together. If you are running alot your swimming will take a dive. It’s hard to go through this compromise but I need to get better and this is the time.

My areas of weakness have always been the swim and bike and I commonly run well off the bike to my fitness level. With all eyes on TTT and Ironman Wisconsin which are both 140.3 miles, the swimming and cycling need the priority, especially the swimming. I believe I can muscle my way through a 70.3 with very limited swim training but the Ironman has been a different story and my constant struggle of endless 3:30-3:40 marathons When I should be at 3:20. The goal with the heavy swim block is to build the durability and pure conditioning so I can arrive to the run having spent much less energy as well as have a stronger 2nd half of the bike. I would estimate between the 3 weekly runs I am averaging 25-30 miles per week. Quality Hill and Threshold workout, Quality Long Run, Easy run. 

Second observation is swim frequency. I can’t tell you the last time i’ve swam 4-5x a week for an extended period. This didn’t take any convincing as I knew I needed to. Doing this was critical for accomplishing my long term goals. No one cares about how fast you swim and bike if you can’t run off it. Early in the block I sent some video to Coach C and we noticed some areas of improvement with my breathing and stabilization. Every stroke I took afterwards was focused on fixing these issues, thats alot of drill work! This past Monday we did the CSS 400/200 swim test. I did this test later last year and set two personal bests of 5:08 and 2:29! The morning of the test I was anxious to the point of shortness of breathe and slight shaking, I WAS NERVOUS! Through my nerves I convinced myself that my body was fatigued, my arms hurt, that this test wasn’t going to go well. Self Sabotage at it’s best! In the warm up I rehearsed the mental cues I was going to execute in the test, keep it simple, focus. 1,2,3, Breathe and Reach were the things I was telling myself. In the counting of 1,2,3 were focused on exhaling and the 4 was my breath. I have a habit of holding my breathe when going fast.  

200 yards into the test the fatigue level was pretty high and there was a moment where I said, “hey, you are ok, focus” and I kept drilling it while focusing on my cues to silence my lactate gremlins. The final 100 I was still holding it together. I finished the 400 and saw 5:05, a new personal best at 1:16 average! The 200 went off and around 75 to go my legs were going numb, it was crazy! I stayed focused on my technique and cues and nailed another personal best of 2:26, boom!

My goal of swimming under 1 hour at IMWI is becoming more real. Now, I need to build up the endurance to have the conditioning to handle 4k of open water swimming. The speed is there.

Thank you for reaching and keep training and believing!

Onwards and Upwards.


Race Week: Madison Half Marathon

Madison Half Marathon 2017

Madison Half Marathon 2017

It is race week everyone, Madison Half Marathon! I am pretty excited since I havent raced anything since Steelhead 70.3 in August. The training has been going very well and when training is going well, you want to race!

The Madison Marathon and Half Marathon is a huge event that starts on the Capital Square. It is one of last races of the year and attracts thousands of runners.

The course is hard because of all of the hills. Short hills, steep hills, long hills. However, what comes up must come down. Don’t think that you cannot run fast on hilly courses, you just have to run them right!

A half marathon is a challenging event to pace because it is close to your lactate threshold, but you cant run directly at your lactate threshold because you’ll bonk. I think of it as running on the point of uncertainty. Can I hold this pace? Yes? No? If I am having self doubt than I am running the right effort. From mile 1 I will be second guessing my pacing.

Also, I will rarely look at my running watch for the entire 13.1 mile race. Running a hilly race requires you to have a good sense of running off effort because your pace will constantly be slower and faster than what you want to average. When you have a constant influx of pace, that can create self doubt. I’ve been running long enough where I know the level of discomfort I can hold for certain distances. 

Race week is also interesting because its when you see alot of people self sabotaging all of the work they’ve put in. 

  1. Creating less aggressive goals

  2. Creating more aggressive goals

  3. Thinking they can run faster on race day, because its race day

  4. Thinking adrenaline will provide 5% increase in fitness

  5. Going to a Low Carb, High Fat Diet

  6. Going to a High Carb, Low Fat Diet

  7. Become Vegan

  8. Binge eating terrible food because your goals “dont matter”

  9. Figuring out your nutrition plan at the expo

  10. Asking your friend what pace you should run

  11. Buy a different pair of shoes because they will be faster 

These are all common mistakes people make race week. Seriously. They happen. 


Everyone gets nervous race week. Nerves make people do funny things. Things that you would never have done in your lead up to the race. 

How do you distract yourself from making these errors? Reinforce your race goals. Remind yourself how hard you worked. Go back and reread your training journal. Visualize your race before bed each night. Go to the expo with a friend to ensure you don’t buy anything silly. 

It’s going to be under 30 degrees for the race and that makes me very happy. Running in colder weather allows me to keep my core temperature down so you can run hard. I will be wearing half tights, a tight base layer with a t-shirt over it, gloves, and a breathable winter running hat. I do run with music and i’ve already created my playlist for race day. 

My A Goal is to break 1:23. Last year I ran 1:24:XX which was a 6:26 average pace. Breaking 1:23 means I need to average 6:20 pace. That is my A Goal. My realistic goal is to break 1:24 and to do that I need to average 6:23s.


I was blessed with short stubby legs which makes me excellent at running uphill but not downhill. One of my execution goals is to actively push the downhills out of my comfort zone. On a regular basis I get to run with an incredible athlete, Robin, who is shorter than me and is one of the best downhill runners. There is hope! My other execution goal will be to run more confident on the flat sections. If I dont execute these two things…I wont make up the time I lost on all of the uphills. 

My cycling and swimming this week will be reduced. This is also a recovery week for me so reducing volume and intensity is making my body feel good and my motivation high.

Lets go have some fun!


A New Challenge!

Big Ringers:

All is going very well on the training front and having a blast. I am finding a good rhythm each day with getting my sessions in. Coffee is set to automatically start at 4:00am, the alarm clock is set for 4:05, I am up by 4:10, working out by 4:45-5am. I am very much a morning person, as you can tell. If I could be in bed by 8pm, I would!

It is only October and I am obsessing over what races I am doing next year. I have been waffling over my first triathlon, Elkhart Lake or Madison 70.3? Both because they are back to back weekends?

THEN, a new challenge was presented to me…

American Triple T

It is 4 triathlons within 3 days… all totaling an Ironman Distance. There is also shorter version that totals a 70.3 Triathlon.

Friday: Super Sprint Triathlon

Saturday AM: Olympic Distance

Saturday Afternoon: Olympic Distance (Bike/Swim/Run)

Sunday: Half Ironman

Why the change? I’ve done Elkhart Lake and used it as a fitness gauge. Madison 70.3 is local and competitive, but it doesn’t draw much interest to me outside of the competition that would be there.

What’s also nice about TTT? I have inside knowledge into how to prepare and race it. How? My superstar wife has WON this event. Yea, I married up. Cindi has always encouraged me to race TTT and having that type of knowledge from a previous champion is second to none.

Importantly, Triple T provides me a lot of motivation. Its going to be very challenging. It’s also different than what i’ve previously done, which is good because i’ve found myself getting bored. My interest has been leaning towards adventure races, long trail runs, Canada Extreme, Swissman, Norseman type of events.

My theme for 2019 Ironman Wisconsin and all of the preparation leading into will be “Conditioning, Conditioning, Conditioning.” I have done many Ironmans so I don’t need more triathlon experience. My limiter for most of my Ironmans have been simple: Conditioning. Endurance. Fitness. GET FIT! Triple T keeps me in this mindset over the winter months leading into both races. To accomplish 140.6 miles, broken into 4 triathlons will require a lot of conditioning but not the same as a stand alone Ironman.

Add in that Triple T is under 300 dollars for the entry fee. 4 Triathlons, Race Kit, Finishers Jacket, and much more what what a single 70.3 event costs. The lodging offered is also very affordable. Plus, I love racing smaller races. The feel and environment of these grassroots events is always nice. Door County Half Ironman is also like this.

Until next week!


Cravings vs Hunger

A post from Expert Luke Briggs has really stuck with me. It has to do with emotional eating and the part that stuck with me the most is when he talks about Cravings vs Hunger. At first it resonated the most with eating (obviously) because I would go into a coffee shop and get a craving for something specific, I would then convince myself that it would be ok to eat it all the while it not supporting my goals. Luke talks about if you feel its a craving, wait a couple minutes without reacting to find out. If you are still “hungry” after 20 minutes… you are actually hungry.

It’s worked. In 4 months I have lost 8 pounds. Most of it by reducing so many unnecessary things from my diet.

I also have a tendency for buying unnecessary items because i’ve convinced myself it will make me faster. That sounds ridiculous as I type it, but I do it. This nutrition product. This helmet. This whatever. But it’s all bullshit. Total bullshit. Whats going to make you better is the hunger deep inside you, not a distraction that weakens you internally. This goes back to dependency and if you place too much dependency outside of yourself, you are weakening your confidence.

My swimming has gotten a lot better, in fact; I am swimming the best I have in years. I am only swimming twice a week with each session around 3,500 yards. Remember when I called myself weak minded in the pool? I feel like my commitment to eliminating all dependency of my buoy and paddles has paid off. I am now able to swim 1,500 to 2,000 yards on a 1:30 send off. All freestyle, no buoy. I go into my swim workouts with paces to hit. I am constantly challenging myself wanting to get better. This past swim session I was finishing up some strong 100s and cranked out a 1:09! I was full gas, giving it everything. 1:09 is not a personal best but being able to swim that fast under fatigue is a good sign for me.

Two things I have wanted to improve upon are happening. Body weight is reducing and swim paces are increasing.

What I'm Working On

This week our family took a vacation to Door County. It’s been around 2 years since we’ve taken a formal vacation and with the triathlon season winding down, we packed our bags and headed to the quiet town of Bailey’s Harbor.

Talking with Coach Kevin before I left, I was fired up to get back into hard training after the prior light week. We settled on making this week also pretty easy and he was right. When I go on vacation, my mind does the same. Every morning I am up at 4:30 to work, train or coach. However. when vacation came I slept till the rooster crowed aka Lucy woke up. My training goal was to get in 30’ of running a day, mission accomplished. I was also on vacation and the last thing I wanted to do was be away from my family.

I grew up running from middle school and high school and the first year at college. While I was never a talented runner, I loved putting in the hard miles. I was a coaches worst nightmare. Every run was hard. 6 mile aerobic run turned into 6 miles as hard as possible. 10 mile long run the day after a race turned into a hammer session. Like I said… a true nightmare. I look back on myself and understand why i never saw the improvement other runners saw, I never let my body rest, recover, and grow. I wanted to do more, faster, and more frequent. That’s the path to becoming amazingly mediocre.

Since we’re on the honest bus, Ive never shown much promise in swim, bike, or running. I had to work very hard for the results I’ve achieved. For most talented people, it takes them 3 years from nothing to something (Short Course Nationals, 70.3 Worlds, Kona Qualifier)… for me it took double the time. My parents taught me hard work, but didn’t give me the great genetics. I still love them very much.

So here I am today plugging away at the small details.

When I evaluated my running form. (How do I do this? I put my phone next to me on my treadmill) I notice that my left leg doesn’t recover as high as my right. The effect of this is that my left leg over striders causing me to look like I am cross country skiing instead of running, which causes me to over stride, which causes a lot of injuries on my left leg, which is REALLY limiting my speed potential. If you want to go faster you need to put more force straight down into the ground. When you over stride, you don’t do that.

Some people can get away with bad technique, but I’m not talented or genetically powerful so I need to fix these issues. Running technique is important, if you don’t think so you’re oblivious to the obvious.

If you are talented, more power to you! You have been given great genes and if you combine that with hard work… you’re going places. Talented athletes make many coaches look really good!

Here is what I am doing to fix my left leg, it’s pretty simple. There are so many fancy drills but keeping it simple and knowing the focus is key to learning. Thats what Drills do, they teach you something. How it should feel and how to do it correctly. Drills won’t automatically make you faster, in fact I see many athletes doing drills aimlessly. However, when they are done right they’re the foundation to your improvement.

If I am feeling fatigued I will do these before the run as a muscle activation set. I will always do them after my runs, especially a hard run.

3 Rounds:

20 Butt Kicks (Focus on tightening up my recovery phase to get my foot higher to push down)

20 High Knees (Same Focus on Butt Kicks, just different position)

20 A-Skips (Pull the leg up, FIRE the leg down. Putting it all together)

20 High Elbow Band Pulls (For swimming)

R:1 Minute, repeat.

Swimming Break Through!


Something I have been doing is replacing coffee with tea. Why? I drink a lot of coffee, sometimes 10 cups a day. On average I would say 6-8 cups a day. Some would be black coffee, some lattes, some red eyes (coffee and 1-2 shots of espresso). It was getting out of hand and my dad’s side of the family is known for having a bad heart. For almost 2 weeks I have been drinking 1-2 cups of coffee in the morning and then tea in the afternoon. Most green tea or decaf tea. I have felt a significant different in energy and sleeping better.

Back to Triathlon talk! Who reading this cares about coffee!

On most Mondays I go to Cindi’s Masters Swim Class in the afternoon because I get a good level of technical advice on my swim stroke. This is the time of season where you should be fixing your mistakes. Well… you should always try to fix your technical errors.

“All of your mistakes are happening because you are constantly off balance” Cindi told me. After watching the video I couldn’t believe it. When I swim I feel like i’m hitting a home run, on video I look like a gorilla trying to swim through the water. So much energy and extra drag/resistance to achieve these swim times.

Cindi pointed out these errors to me:

1) Wide Catch

2) Not getting full extension

3) Wiggling Hips

4) Splicing Legs

5) Minimal Core Utilization

6) Constant Redirection, Minimal Forward Motion

All of these mistakes are coming from lack of balance on the water. Which means my catch phase sucks and at some point I am losing balance on the water and everything falls apart.

For a reference point, I did a swim set with the group where we did a multiple pyramids of 100, 200, 300, 200, 100s. During one of the hard 300s I went 3:59 which is 1:20y average. I was swimming VERY hard to hit those times.

After discussing on what drills I needed to work on to fix this, I reduced my weekly swim volume by 50% and didn’t swim repetitions over 100 yards. Every swim was focused on executing the swim drill over a 25 and putting it together into a 25 freestyle. More swimming wasn’t the answer to my technical issues.

What did I notice throughout the process?

My swim strokes per 25 went from 20-22 to 18-20. My swim speeds remained the same at a lower effort.

On Friday I did my first swim test of the season: Max Effort 400 and 200. My 400 was a 5:08 (1:17 average) and my 200 was a 2:29 (1:14.5 average). Putting my threshold swim pace at 1:20y. The 400 was a lifetime best, yay go Steve! And to be honest, It was the “easiest” max effort 400 i’ve ever done. I literally couldn’t believe it. When I got home I told Cindi, “You saved my swimming!”

For years I have been swimming the same paces, never making progress. My motivation in the water was slipping because I wasn’t getting better. But heres the thing, I was the problem. Not swimming. Not the pool. I never really put the time and effort into fixing my swim stroke. I liked to complain about it, but never put the effort into fixing it.

What did I learn?

1) Reduce swim volume when fixing technical errors. You can’t fix technical errors when half of your concern is on the length of repetition. If you keep swimming longer repeats on a broken stroke, you will become a broken record.

2) Go to the pool with 1-2 objectives. Don’t try and fix your kick and your breathing at the same time. You will get confused and upset. The only improvements that will be made is increased hatred of swimming.

3) Don’t just swim drills. Thats worthless and doesn’t translate to holding good technique under higher speeds and fatigue, unless you plan on swimming your Ironman with a closed fist. Execute Drills into Freestyle of varies speeds and lengths.

4) Know your 25 speeds and your 25 stroke count. Every triathlete knows their cycling cadence and power and their running stride rate and pace. Why don’t you know this stuff in the pool. Its an IMMEDIATE display if you’re getting better.

In the Swim Smooth Calculator, it estimates off of my 1:20 threshold I am capable of swimming a 57:40 Ironman Swim. Now that sounds awesome, but I lack the endurance and open water skill to swim that fast. However, it is good to know I have the potential to swim that fast come September.

Hope you learned something from this!


What Is Your Commitment Level?

Week 1

Previous Week Training Hours: 11.5

Commitment Level: 6/10

Current Weight: 159

Current FTP: 3.9 w/kg

What is commitment level? I think of this as my marker so I dont burn out too early. One question that was asked was, “Can you really hold this level of intensity for over a year?”

Of course I can’t and I wont even try. 

While I am against people taking weeks and months off of training. I am also against people getting 100% focused for a goal before the new years if there event is in the late summer. I have seen friends and fellow athletes finish a season disappointed and get reengaged too early only to be burned out in March. It happens so often! 

I am 100% committed to the program. I am 100% committed to my coaches plan. But my lifestyle around training is a 6/10. I am still eating ice cream before bed. I am still drinking beer. I am still eating somewhat unhealthy. Kevin and I discussed this and after my previous weigh in and body fat test, I am in a good position for the fall. No need to lose too much right now. 

This past weeks training was awesome, I am so pumped to be working hard and doing structured sessions. While the sessions aren’t that hard, the grind of a schedule is exciting to me. I did a run session of 3x10’ at a Tempo effort and finished the last two repeats around 6:00 or 315-320 watts. It was cold, windy, and rainy and it felt effortless. This could be because I was still fresh from the week off but the paces still happened. 

In typical Kevin fashion, this week looks pretty similar to last week with some increases in swim volume and bike intensity volumes with the workout. 

Happy Training!



Week 3: Improvements

Week #3: 

Ironman Wisconsin happened this past weekend and it reminded me of why I want to do this race over any other one. We had athletes racing and two of my athletes finished 4th in their Age Group, 1 missed Kona by a single place. I was also able to watch a friend have the race of his life and earn his Kona Spot hes been wanting for so long. It was motivating to watch so many athletes I know and coach accomplish what they’ve trained for. I find so much encouragement and belief that if others are able to, I can accomplish my goals of faster than 9:40 at Ironman Wisconsin.

When I first started thinking of doing an Ironman in 2019, IMWI wasn’t my top choice even though it is in the same city I live in. All eyes were focused on Ironman Arizona. Why? I am not very strong on hills. Cycling or running I get toasted by pretty much everyone. When I look at my results from previous races, I am much more competitive in the flatter races than hilly ones. The percentages of how close I am to the front shows I am much better at flat races. 

This makes me self analysis why this is the case and how do I improve as an athlete. When I look at the power profile chart, my 1’ power is much lower than my FTP power. I think that if they are not even in the same category, this will lead to more muscular fatigue on race day that you should encounter. 

Why did I decide on IMWI? It’s the crowds. The support is unparalleled to any other course I’ve seen. IMWI has over 6,000 feet of elevation gain on the bike and 1,000 feet on the run. The run course also had over 20 turns which makes it a pretty close course. To re illustrate why, I want to have an incredible experience over chasing a fast time. 

How am I fixing my weakness?

Kevin and I talk about this alot and what the primary focus will be and its nothing fancy. All of the sessions we do is to getting me as fit as I possibly can be. This may seem basic, but over the past 5-6 years this basic concept is what I lacked. Its why I continued to fall apart late into races. Its why i experience GI stress in ever marathon. 

Develop the Bow before the Arrow

We are currently in the grind of muscular strength. We are in a phase of training where it consists of alot of 90-95% efforts in a big gear (65-70rpms). On the run it is also pretty similar, Tempo running and striders. We are building the biggest platform possible. While I am only training 8-10hrs a week, the intensity is high and I am loving it. Knowing Kevin, we will probably sit in this phase for 3-4 months. More and more Sweet Spot in a bigger gear. The intensity isnt so hard it fries me the next day, it allows me to put in alot of good work. 

The over gear work is for my weakness. Strength Strength Strength. 

It’s Happening, Already.

I am getting better. I like improvement. 

Swim: Last week I was able to swim 15x100 on 1:30 base. My avg 100s were 1:18-22 and I was cruising with minimal effort. Today I was 3x600 avg 1:20-25, 5x100 avg 1:16, 8x50 avg 34. Totally 3600y and it was the best i’ve felt swimming this distance in over 6 years. I have never swum 1500-1800 yards on a 1:30 base. EVER.

Bike: No improvements yet. It’s only been 3 weeks. Yet, I am feeling very strong. I love over gear work. If you want to get better, put that puppy in the big ring!

Run: The volume of running has been quite low. We do 1x Tempo Run a week where i’m targeting 6:15-25 pace (Half Marathon Pace) for 30-40’ of total work broken up in 10-12’ segments. The purpose of this is building a strong base. I have the Madison Half Marathon in early November where I would like to Run in the 1:20-1:23 range.

Confessions From A Weak Winded Swimmer


I have a confession to make. I am a mentally weak swimmer who’s addicted to their pull buoy. For years I convinced myself that all I needed to do was pull as it replicated the wetsuit. Here is what it really did, it made me mentally weak and unprepared for the hardships triathlon swimming presents. Anytime I would swim without my pull buoy it instantly became harder than I liked. I would grab my pull buoy faster than I do my Oreo Ice Cream. There were times I would forget my pull buoy at home and not even swim! Repeat this process over and over and I developed a dependency that was hurting my swim training as well as my confidence on race day. Sure, after some big swims my arms would be smashed and confidence would be restored (short term) but I never saw the returns on all of the pulling. 

Practice what I preach? Nope, didn’t do that. Ive been coaching swimmers from the pool deck for 10 years which means I have coached hundreds of swimmers. In 10 years of on deck coaching, I became very good at connecting body position errors and whats truly effecting it. The more I think of it with the coaching I prescribe in our classes, it rarely has any buoy work. 

For years I never USED the rotational aspect of my stroke to improve my distance per stroke. I knew it but couldn’t fix it because I believe that too much pull buoy, or the wrong pull buoy inhibits your ability to use your hips and core in the swim stroke. To improve usable rotation in your swim stroke, you can't use a pull buoy and I wasn't willing to give it up. So what was the result of all my pulling? Better pulling but not better overall conditioning.

Step 1: Cue Rocky Theme Song

Step 2: “Cindi HIDE MY SWIM BUOY"

Step 3: Harden Up

Step 4: Enter Cave Man Swim Training

Cave Man Swim Training (CMST) is literally something I made up. When I think of what the definition is, it resembles going back to the bare bones of swimming with no toys and simply getting the work done. I’ve removed my pull buoy from my bag so it not within reach. All of the my swims are purely freestyle, no toys. The 1st couple swims were exhausting. More open turns because I was so low on oxygen. More internal profanity. The bike and run sessions that followed would suffer because how much energy it took out of me. I didn’t care, I was motivated to break this habit. 

Guess what? I started to see improvement. I started to really connect my hips and core into my catch phase. My swim times for a set of threshold 100s went from 1:25s to 1:18s. I like improvement.

Sometimes it is cool to be the swimmer with all the gear on. Snorkel, paddles, buoy, band, fins. It may be helping you or it may not be. Do paddles, band, and snorkels have a place in swimming? Well, duh. Each toy has a specific place within swim training and fixing certain aspects of a stroke. In my case, these toys made me weaker because I started to depend on them too much. To become excellent at whatever it is you’re attempting, you have to have 100% belief in yourself. If you don’t because you rely on something or someone to do it for you, your chances of failure go up. You have to fix you before you can truly accomplish what you want.

Happy Training!


Cravings vs Hunger

(Video Link Above)

This post from Expert Luke Briggs has really stuck with me. It has to do with emotional eating and the part that stuck with me the most is when he talks about Cravings vs Hunger. At first it resonated the most with eating (obviously) because I would go into a coffee shop and get a craving for something specific, I would then convince myself that it would be ok to eat it all the while it not supporting my goals. Luke talks about if you feel its a craving, wait a couple minutes without reacting to find out. If you are still “hungry” after 20 minutes… you are actually hungry.

It’s worked. In 4 months I have lost 8 pounds. Most of it by reducing so many unnecessary things from my diet.

I also have a tendency for buying unnecessary items because i’ve convinced myself it will make me faster. That sounds ridiculous as I type it, but I do it. This nutrition product. This helmet. This whatever. But it’s all bullshit. Total bullshit. Whats going to make you better is the hunger deep inside you, not a distraction that weakens you internally. This goes back to dependency and if you place too much dependency outside of yourself, you are weakening your confidence.

My swimming has gotten a lot better, in fact; I am swimming the best I have in years. I am only swimming twice a week with each session around 3,500 yards. Remember when I called myself weak minded in the pool? I feel like my commitment to eliminating all dependency of my buoy and paddles has paid off. I am now able to swim 1,500 to 2,000 yards on a 1:30 send off. All freestyle, no buoy. I go into my swim workouts with paces to hit. I am constantly challenging myself wanting to get better. This past swim session I was finishing up some strong 100s and cranked out a 1:09! I was full gas, giving it everything. 1:09 is not a personal best but being able to swim that fast under fatigue is a good sign for me.

Two things I have wanted to improve upon are happening. Body weight is reducing and swim paces are increasing.


Planning Your Off Season

It’s that time of year when triathletes are finishing their season and transitioning to the off season. If you havent looked into structuring your off season, you should. If your off season consists of 3 months of no training and over 10lbs of weight gain, you are doing it wrong and putting yourself at major risk. Having a successful off season is critical for a number of reasons; injury prevention, mental health, and athlete longevity. 

Each year I have new athletes that are afraid to hang up their bikes or swim trunks for a couple months because they feel they will lose everything they’ve worked for, this is completely untrue. Trust me, I’m an experienced coach. If you keep pushing 12 months each year you will start to experience never ending overuse injuries, waves of low motivation, and lack of enjoyment for the sport you love. When you experience all of these symptoms, how can you expect to train at a level that will promote improvement? They wont. With a poor mentality you will fall into a poor training routine which will lead to a plateau of fitness. Doesn’t sound like much fun. 

Step 1: Take 1-2 weeks of minimal training. For my athletes, I call them “Free Days and Weeks”. These days consist of 30’ of swim, bike, run, or off day. There is no structure to the training. It gives them the freedom to relax. 

Step 2: Identify your weak link. Is it swimming? Is it running? October through December is meant for addressing your weakness. This is when you turn yourself into a single sport athlete. You are swimming 1-2x a week at 50% of your typical swim volume. You are also cycling 1-2x a week with minimal intensity or no cycling at all. The best Fall riding is to the bakery with friends.

I was coaching our Triathlon Swim Class on Monday and one our swimmers is signed up for Ironman Wisconsin 2019. Looking at his stroke we identified that he lacked the ability to change speeds. We did multiple 50s at different speeds, but there wasn’t much of a difference between the three speeds. If an athlete wants to see improvement but cannot sprint, their ceiling of improvement is limited. For the upcoming months this swimmer will be focusing on sprinting in the pool with a lot of rest. Think of this work like lifting weights in a gym. If you constantly are doing the leg press machine at 100lbs for 12 repetitions but never increase the load of your exercise, your muscle recruitment will never be challenged. We will be doing the equivalent of 5 repetitions of 140lbs. The goal of doing fast 25s and 50s with equal rest is that it allows the athlete to produce more power than they ever have. Here is an Ironman athlete learning how to sprint to improve their Ironman swim 12 months away. Doing long repeats at a slow pace in September won’t do you any good.

Also, I have never met a triathlete who didn’t want to improve their running performance. The Fall is the best time to become a better runner. When I talk with my athletes about Fall training we always discuss going “All In” with the running. This means we are doing more run drills, more plyometrics, more bounding, and more running volume. We turn into runners. We throw on the short shorts. We sign up for local 5k running events. We run! Athletes love this approach because they can focus on one sport instead of trying to balance two other sports at the same level. 

Coach Steven Brandes

USAT High Performance Coach

USAT Level 2 Coach

Door County Half Ironman


Every race has it’s positives and negatives and it’s highs and lows. My ultimate goal is Ironman Wisconsin 2019 and trying to achieve my best Ironman. Cindi and I have discussed the best path for me to achieve this performance. With all of this planning happening, I’ve found myself wanting to shut this season down, take a break and start the preparation into 2019. However, every time I start to think this way, I question the reasoning and I continue to come to the realization that i am in the process of self sabotage. I’m desperately trying to find the easy way out of this season. Maybe the stress of being a new father has taken more out of me than I expected. I know this because the drive to get in each session isn’t there and I’d rather get more rest than do the important sessions needed. Hard sessions turn into recovery. Simply put, this season hasn’t gone to plan and I haven’t seen the improvements I would have liked. Each races is a reminder of how much fitness i’ve lost. As I do find positives from each race, they seem to be stripping my motivation rather than increasing it. I still have 3 races on my schedule but plan on doing only 1, Steelhead 70.3. 


The Days Before:

I felt good going into this race because I was able to put in the bigger, high quality sessions. Everything seemed to be on track. Robin has been building for Ironman Wisconsin and its been nice to ride with her. I’ve also made chances to my bike position that continue to be a positive in regards to having a better second half to my races. The drive to Door County was pleasant. Justin was very helpful with meeting us at the race site to help us put up the tent. We settled back to our place, ate dinner, and relaxed at the pool. 

Lucy slept pretty well Friday night. She had a not normal wake up at 4am on Saturday and I was able to get her back to sleep. I decided to just stay up and do work. Being up at 4am is not an ideal thing to do the day before the race but work needed to be done. Saturday was the Sprint Distance and Cindi went down with the team and I stayed back till Lucy woke up. We made it to the race and was able to watch our athletes compete, one of whom won the entire thing! Way to go Bobby! Watching his race certainly motivated me. Lucy started to get tired so I brought her back to the condo for her first nap. My plan was to ride the trainer while she napped. Well, her nap only latest 30’ which meant no ride. I started to get in this panic where I know I needed to get my pre race workout in. It sounds incredibly selfish when I think of it. So I focused on the fact that I was able to stay inside, rest my legs, and relax while it was blazing hot outside. I was also able to have the ITU WTS Hamburg race play in the background. Cindi made it back to Condo and we switched roles. Bike done on the trainer, felt great. Drove to the race site to do easy run and stride, felt good but WOWZA it was hot. Then I went in an swam, felt awesome. Ready to go! Lucy slept awesome Saturday night which meant Cindi and I got great sleep. 

The Swim: D+



I sucked and have no clue why. Well, I know why… I dont swim much and still believe I can fake my way to a 30’ swim. NOT THIS TIME. 500 into the swim my arms were completely shot. “Ah your arms aren’t warmed up, they will come good”… They didn’t come good. I also was constantly drifting left. I literally couldn’t swim straight. I was convinced I was going to see 40’. The beauty of endurance sport is you get what you earn. I wasn’t trained for this and I got exactly what I deserved. 


The Bike: B+



When you aren’t swim fit you suffer the first part of the bike because you are trying to recover from the swim. I was uncomfortable. Heavy legs. Low power. Alone with no one in sight. Unmotivated. Making excuses. Convinced my brakes were rubbing.

Then… I saw people in-front of me so I made it my goal to catch them. From a distance it appeared these people were drafting which set me off into a hissy, it was exactly what I needed… some motivation. I rode past them pushing well into my threshold trying to create a gap so they wouldn't jump on my wheel. Looking back on this, it was quite stupid but it helped me mentally. Slowly I started to catch more people which changed my mentality. My goal coming into this ride was to execute a better 2nd half of the ride. Be more focused, consume more calories. I commonly see 8-10% of a drop off in the 2nd half which is unacceptable. Poor nutrition and bike fit caused me to slow down. This time it was only 5%. This was my best ride at DC by almost 2 minutes!




The Run: B


I got into transition ready to get after it. Earlier someone told me i was top 10, so after passing people I would thought I was 6th or 7th. When I ran past Cindi, she asked “Are you feeling ok? Jason Landretti is 7 minutes up” (Jason is a good friend and someone I like to race because of the banter back and forth)… However, these are not the words you want to hear. These words mean, you’re farther back then we discussed! Apparently I was in 13th place… note to self, don’t believe some random person’s place count. I went from being fired to running on auto pilot. When I looked at the results afterwards, it appears the front of the race was a draft fest as 4-5 guys were rewarded drafting penalties. One athlete was given 12 minutes!

The only turnaround is at 5 miles and up to this point I didn’t see a single runner. It was the perfect place for someone cruising, no pressure. THEN, I saw two guys coming up on me and one in-front of me. They were coming fast and I didn’t want to get passed. I started to push very hard and at times I had to slow down because I had crossed that lactate level line. “Dont look back, don’t look back, don’t let him see you looking back, it’s a sign of weakness, he’ll know you’re hurting” With 3 miles to go we are essentially on two long roads till the finish. I felt with every step I was losing time but I kept pushing. There is an acronym that sticks with me and its TUF, Toughness Under Fatigue. When you're at your limit, it is no longer up to your legs but your mind. How you mentally handle pressure, fatigue, and lactate determines your race results. I was literally at my limit. 1% harder and my legs would completely flood with lactate, 1% easier and Matt would have caught me. Weak mind? I would have been walking. It always funny because 5 miles earlier i was having a pitty part and now i’m at my maximal effort. The ups and downs. Here we are, 1 Mile to go and Matt was within 30 seconds. With the finish being downhill, I felt I was at a disadvantage because i’m short and Matt is tall. With the short rise before the downhill I had to push hard to get some extra time. I was able to hold him off, but holy moly I don’t think I’ve ever pushed that hard. Competition brings the best out of you. 

I joke with people that "every time I cross a finish line is a victory" and the feeling after maxing out is the reminder of why I love to race. Even if it's slower, I'm always chasing that feeling. 

Lake Mills and Elkhart Lake Triathlon Recap

Lake Mills and Elkhart Lake Triathlon Recap




Have you ever been stuck in a frame of mind that doesn’t parallel your current physical state? This is my current situation and it’s a very hard place to be because it tugs at the motivational heart strings. 

In 2010, I was 24 and training like a professional. My weekly training hours were between 15-25. I didn’t have a girlfriend, a real job, any responsibilities… it was fantastic! I am now 32 with a wife and a beautiful 10 month daughter who isn’t a fan of sleeping at night. The priority levels have shifted. But the problem is that I still want to train 15 hours a week. 

The past 4 weeks I have averaged 8 hours of training. I only swam 9,000 yards the past month. That’s not a lot of training. But, that is how my life goes. 

Lake Mills Sprint Triathlon

This is the first time i’ve raced Lake Mills and was very excited to see where I stacked up. The funny part is I had no reason to be excited. I spent the last 4 weeks with a calf injury limiting my running. I took a hiatus from the pool because when life gets busy the pool is the first thing that goes. The week before Lake Mills, I took a complete 7 days off of running so I could treat my calf with rest and self massage in hopes I could run pain free at Lake Mills… it worked. 

Lake Mills was one of the most mentally challenging races as I was excited to race, but I was incredibly unprepared. The whole week I fought the mental battle of not racing so I wouldn’t embarrass myself in-front of some of the best Wisconsin triathletes I used to race alongside. I continued to tell myself, “You quit once, quitting becomes a lot easier the next time.” 

Plus, I am not a professional triathlete. I used to put alot of pressure on myself before races to perform. There were years where I wouldn’t communicate with people before the start because I thought it would enhance my performance to remain “focused”. But the reality of this type of thinking is that it’s a complete waste of energy. In fact, it made my performances worse. I was losing the excitement of triathlon by creating so much unnecessary pressure. If you find me before a triathlon now, chances are I won’t shut up.

If you were to ask me what my goals were before Lake Mills, my reply would have been: “I don’t have any goals”… People look at me funny when I said that. They would then ask, “well what kind of paces are you going to try and do? “I have no clue, I’m just going to go as hard as I can and focus on what I can control”

It’s 100% true that during a triathlon I never start my watch for the swim. I rarely look at my power meter, and I NEVER look at my running watch. The races are done almost 100% off of feel. Why? It keeps me mentally positive. Countless times I have seen people get so wrapped up in their numbers that the second they are not riding or running to their numbers, they mentally quit. They start to blame some factor for quitting when in doubt, they were not flexible enough to adapt on race day. It’s an ego thing, I get it. However, do a race and don’t look at your pacing device. 

Lake Mills did go ok for me. I was able to place 19th overall. Not bad.

Elkhart Lake Olympic Triathlon

I love racing Elkhart Lake. It may be my favorite triathlon. It’s a family run event on a challenging course. Flat courses don’t interest me, their boring. Again, what was I thinking? I only swam 1500 yards twice the past month and it was done race week out of complete panic that I needed to swim 1500 at Elkhart. Let alone the fact that I havent run 6 miles straight in more than 3 weeks. But hey, lets have some fun!

Elkhart Lake is an event where you can see ahead of time who is racing. You get to size up your competition! What’s funny about this concept is that it doesnt help your performance. The worst thing IRONMAN does is release who racing ahead of time. Why? For the people looking to be competitive, they spend hours scanning through their age group to see how competitive they will be. Isn’t that ridiculous? You can’t change how you race off this information. Its the easiest way to come into a race with a deflated, fixed mindset of how they will do. It just adds more pressure that will sink their potential on race day. Literally, all of the hard work and fun you were looking to have is now gone. A poor mindset will haunt you. This year, I didn’t even bother checking the list. 

2016 was the last time I raced at Elkhart and I got demolished. Literally demolished by everyone and the course. There was a-lot of walking involved. I was also still trying to impress my now wife at the time. What do they call these moments, character building? Yea, sure. Also it’s a good thing she didn’t marry me for my athletic ability.

2018 was about redemption and it turned out that I had one of my best races in the past couple years. I was pumped! I was able to swim 1500, I biked one of my best power outputs, and I ran very strong on a challenging run course. No quitting, no walking, only fist pumps. 

I finished with a time of 2:26. In 2016 when I got obliterated my time was 2:23. In 2010, when I was 24 my time was 2:13. 

In 8 years I’ve managed to get 13 minutes slower over the same course. How could I possibly take confidence from this? Here we are full circle to where this post started. I had an amazing day of racing. Pushed myself very hard only to be reminded that i’m 10lb heavier than I was 8 years ago (too many IPAs) and 13 minutes slower. 13 minutes is over 2 miles! 

To conclude, it is ok to race when you aren't fully prepared. In fact, not many people show up to a starting line 100% ready. I love this sport. I love feeling healthy and I enjoy being around like minded people. Taking a step back and being able to remove unnecessary pressure is the reason I still do this sport. It’s not about times or placement, its about enjoyment.