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I received an email recently from the Ironman Cozumel team that showed the following:

This is such a big deal I cannot pass up the opportunity to write about it. I’ve written a lot of posts of race reports, but those are all after the fact. This is something that anyone who is looking for an Ironman event to do and hasn’t done this race needs know about. I did this race in 2012 with three friends, and it was a spectacular race then. The change to the swim course will undoubtedly make it an even better event.

This race has sold out the past five years. It is definitely a destination race since it is on the island of Cozumel which is by far the best place I’ve visited in Mexico. The industry in Cozumel is tourism, and the island is committed to being a premier tourism destination. The race can be on the warm side, and there are winds on the bike course to battle, but overall it is a fast course with spectacular support from the community.

The swim is amazing, but the new design will make it even better. Previously the course began in a depth that required treading water, and it began in the opposite direction that is shown in the picture. The current is so strong it definitely gave an advantage to strong swimmers, but it was so strong that there were a lot of athletes that couldn’t even get across the start line, and more that couldn’t make it past the turn to start heading to the left as pictured above. Finally, the old course ended up coming back into the strong current for the finish.

The swim definitely makes the triathlon an interesting event, but it is such a small component of the race that having a challenging race ends up ruining a lot of athletes’ day. The strongest swimmers make great triathletes, not because they are strong swimmers, but because they are strong cyclists and runners too. There are plenty of marginal swimmers that end up finishing on the podium, or qualifying for Kona, because they are great on the bike and run. The swim is generally not the deciding factor for who is on the podium. It does affect the weakest swimmers that are not podium contenders and just need to get through the swim within the cutoff time so that they can spend the rest of the day on the bike and run to finish an epic event that may have been a lifelong goal. For athletes looking to qualify for Kona, this is a great race to do that. It is at the end of the year, when fitness is at its best, and then you get to roll into the winter months for a break. If you qualify, you have all year to prep for Kona since you’ll be racing in October 2015.

Besides the new point to point swim course, this course is amazing for any triathlete. The water is warm, so it is not wetsuit legal. The warm water is so comfortable though, and it is so clear that it truly is a joy to swim in. The bike course is just as amazing. It has some windy sections, but the views of the coast are incredible, and overall it is a flat and fast course. The run goes through the town and resort areas where there are so many local families out cheering for you as well as tourists cheering with a margarita in one hand and a cowbell in the other.

The race is on November 30, 2014, and Thanksgiving is on November 27, so it is a different but spectacular way to spend this holiday weekend. Check out the Ironman Cozumel website and register here. If you are interested in having a coach for this event, please contact me. I am familiar with this event, including the travel, the lodging, and exactly what you will need to do to have a great race whether that means qualifying for Kona, or finishing before midnight.


A question I received recently was “I was wondering what your opinion was on long ride/long run workouts back to back (for example: Long ride-brick on saturday, Long run on sunday). I have read mixed pros/cons about doing them back to back and was just wondering what your opinion was about it.”

This is a common question, with arguably no right answer. One advantage of having a coach is you can work with your coach to determine when to schedule these workouts.

I feel that the long workout(s) are the most important ones in the week for endurance athletes. Every workout I write is important, and has a purpose, but if you had to prioritize the workouts the long ones come out on top. If a workout is not important, then maybe it shouldn’t be scheduled because rest is also important. Where to place each workout in the week can be a challenge because it has to fit into your schedule where work, school, or other obligations also have to fit in. Most of these other obligations are not very flexible, so the 5-15 workouts per week need to be fit around everything else.

For a lot of athletes there is more time to fit in long workouts on the weekend. The weekend also is a time when it is generally easier to do group workouts, and long workouts can be much more fun with company. I end up scheduling most of my triathletes for a long ride on Saturday (possibly a brick workout), and a long run on Sunday. This combination works because I really want them to get a lot out of the Saturday workout before being too tired, and then do the long run on tired legs. Triathletes have to be familiar with running on tired legs. After this huge training load I will try to give their legs a rest day on Monday. Rest days are relative to the athlete and where they are in their training, so this might be a complete day off, or a swim, or an easier bike ride.

Is the heavy weekend load ideal? Maybe not. A long run during the week might allow the athlete to get more time on the bike with Saturday and Sunday rides. This can be a good approach especially if the long run has a lot of Zone 3 and 4 running in it where I’ll want the athlete to have fresher legs. If I really want to answer the question of what would be ideal, I would have to assume that there were no other obligations, so that long workouts could occur on any day, and there was time for naps and/or relaxation between workouts. Most competitive triathletes are trying to fit in a lot of workouts with an already busy life.

This challenge isn’t unique to triathletes though. Competitive athletes of any sport can also find themselves doing multiple workouts a day. It is pretty common for swimmers to swim an hour in the morning, and two-three hours in the evening. Runners with high mileage may run an easy run in the morning, and then have a focused run in the evening. Cyclist may need to have several workouts during the week that are two-four hours long in addition to long weekend rides.

The question on when to schedule your long workout becomes much more complicated in that you have to schedule all the other workouts too. There may be drill focused workouts, speed days, tempo workouts, recovery workouts, recovery days, core strength and cross training days. Every coach has some of their own preference, but I have found every athlete has a different schedule that can benefit from having personalized plans written and monitored by a personal coach. If one approach isn’t working, then have that discussion with your coach. Below is a (simplified) sample plan for a triathlete with 11-12 workouts per week.








Swim distance 

Run speed 

Run drill

Run tempo 

Swim drill

Long bike

Long run

Or day off 

Bike tempo 

Swim speed

Bike drill

Bike speed

Transition run


I have written about this workout previously:

Why write about this now? It’s pre-season, and I am putting this workout into some of my athletes’ workouts. I also am doing 20 second intervals. Looking over these posts I see that I was doing them in preparation for Superfrog Triathlon on 9/11/2011. My race report is here. I did well in the race. These intervals weren’t the only reason why I did well, but they were part of the early prep to my build up for a peak Half Irondistance event.

Intervals of such short duration and high intensity are not the core of long distance triathlon. To race a triathlon (that is not draft legal) well you really need to have a high Functional Threshold Power (FTP) and a big aerobic engine. This allows you to maintain a high power over a long period of time. The triathlon does not have a lot of surges or sprints that require a high power. If all training is focused on zones 2-3 this does not improve your peak power, which is a significant metric for strength.

During the early season I focus on getting a lot of zone 2 work in. This improves aerobic fitness which is essential in order to tolerate the high workload that will be necessary later in the season. Mixing in some very high efforts, such as 20 second intervals, early in the season provide some stimulus outside the heavy zone 2 work without taxing the athlete so much that it interferes with recovery and other workouts.

Another consideration for early season, or base training period, is high cadence work. Having the ability to spin a high cadence provides the athlete with more gears. Ramping up the cadence before shifting up is more efficient and effective than just shifting up and then pushing that heavy gear. I like doing these 20 second intervals with a higher cadence, usually 100+ RPM. I usually get a couple intervals in that are at lower cadence, like 60-80, but feel that the rapid turnover is valuable practice during the early season. With the lower cadence there is more torque because it requires more force per pedal stroke to generate that power. The force though is still relatively very low, although it doesn’t feel like it. There are other workouts that are better at generating max force.

Thanks for reading. If you are interested in joining our team and/or looking for a coach, we are getting ramped up for the 2014 season. Leave a message or send me an email at


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January 2014
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