Wednesday, April 12, 2017

2017 Tucson Cycling Camp Report

Tucson is such a great place in which to ride a bike.  The terrain varies from steep mountain climbs to false flats, and everything in between.  Factor in awesome weather at this time of year (70's and 80's) along with bright sunny skies,  and it's pretty hard to beat.
Tucson Cycle Camp Class of 2017!
I started doing triathlon and cycling camps in Tucson in 2001 with my friends, Colleen Kelly and Mike Urquhart, who lived in Flagstaff at the time.  Our first camp attracted 15 triathletes from throughout the U.S., and we based it out of Starr Pass Resort.  Needless to say, we were a little 'green' at the time with regard to the Tucson camp management and logistics! Looking back at that time, I'm just happy to say no one got hurt or killed! 

Flash forward over 15 years, and we offer very 'dialed in' training camp experiences where safety and participant experience is most important.  Wow, what a long ride it's been... with an estimated 300+ athletes from around the world having attended the Tucson Camp programs!  I can't begin to tell you how many people have actually relocated to Tucson (or bought second homes here) as a result of their Tucson Camp experience... very cool! 
Pace line work with the PWR Train!



This year's cycling camp was a little different, as every year we try to add something new and unique to the program to keep it 'fresh'.  Our 'base camp' was the Westward Look Resort , and awesome 4-star resort hotel in the northern foothills area.  The focus of the camp was cycling, although we had several triathletes attend too.  We wanted to keep the camp smaller, limiting it to only 12 people, in order to cultivate more connection and exclusivity.  I felt that we accomplished that mission, with 2 folks having to cancel and 10 people making the journey to Tucson.
Getting ready to climb Mt. Lemmon!

Our group this year, as with every year, was spectacular. One thing is for sure.... cyclists and triathletes are 'generally' super nice people!  We had folks from as far as Canada and the Bahamas attend, with backgrounds and histories as diverse as their home addresses.  It's always fun to meet new people, and learn about them over a 4 day period.

Camp started on Thursday evening with a brief 'meet and greet' and orientation, followed by a nice group dinner at the hotel restaurant. Good food, and nice conversation, as everyone got to know each other.  Camp counselors this year included the best in the business, Spencer Roberts and Mike Urquhart.  I couldn't do it without these pros! 

S'more's by the camp fire! 
Day one of camp started with our staple ride up to the small town of Oracle.  There, we stopped at an eclectic cafe for a quick lunch, before our descent back into Tucson. Overall, it was a great first day of riding, totaling almost 70 miles.  We rounded out the evening with a Yoga for cyclists class, to stretch out tired muscles and prepare for day two. 

Day two began with a unique Staff Stretching class by local guru, Dr. Jim Wagner.  Then, we piled into our MB Sprinter Van for a ride out towards Three Points, to climb 12 miles to the Kitt Peak Observatory.  This was a first for me, and my legs were barking at me!  Wow!  The climb averaged about 7% all the way up, and the winds were brutal!  After the ride, we treated the campers to lunch before heading back to the hotel, followed by a lecture on nutrition (Ketogenic Diets, was the topic) and dinner.   There were some tired athletes in the group! ;)

Day three included a long ride of 84 miles over mostly rolling terrain.  Our main group of 8 athletes pace lined like a UCI Pro Team, averaging around 20 mph!! This group included both A and B riders, just working together the entire time.  It was super fun.  That night, campers came over to Casa Jacobson for dinner co-hosted by Jen and I. They were educated on the nuances of training as a Masters Athlete by Coach Mike, and even enjoyed a bon-fire, including S'mores!
Lunch after a tough climb!

Day four was highly anticipated as we drove out to the base of Mt. Lemmon for an epic ride up the 'mount', and towards the 9500 Ft. Elevation.  Mt. Lemmon is an incredible experience as you ride through 5 different climate zones on your way towards the top (26 miles).  Everyone loves this ride, and remembers it for a life time!   After a quick lunch and getting back to the hotel, we met for our final 'celebration dinner' together at a local restaurant sponsored by Life Time, enjoying stories about the adventures that week and discussing the 2018 camp.  
Training Lecture by the fire.

In a nutshell, Tucson is simply a great place to be for anyone who likes to ride a bike on the road or in the dirt, especially in the winter and spring.  It was a pleasure for Jen and I to spend time and train with a super group of people we're now happy to call our friends, and we hope to see them back in the desert again someday soon!   

Look for more Triathlon and Cycling camps presented by Life Time Endurance for 2018,  coming soon.  We hope you'll be able to join us someday for an experience you'll remember forever! 

Coach Troy 

Friday, March 31, 2017

Writing Training Plans - My Process

Since I started coaching triathletes and cyclists for a living in 1992, I've been writing training plans for athletes from different sports, backgrounds, etc.  I can't even begin to tell you how many plans I've written; for individuals, for groups and 'generalized' training plans for the public... but it must now range in the thousands! 
Gotta work on my guns!


Every time I write a plan, I notice that I implement a process.  Since I just wrote the PWR Cycle Training plan for April , on behalf of Life Time, and the Spinervals Super6 plan too, I thought I'd share my process with you.  Who knows, maybe if you're an aspiring coach you can learn something. Even if you're not, it'll give you an inside look at how I "make the sausage". 



Writing a Training Plan 101:

Step 1:  Know your athletes.  
I always start off by determining who I'm writing the plan for, their training history, skills and abilities, fitness level and goals.  If it's for a group, I follow a broader approach, looking at the generality of what the plan should accomplish, and where the plan should go in terms of their annual training progression.    I consider the science behind my methodology, but also the art of training. I try to make training plans challenging and effective, but also such that they fit into the lives of my target athlete(s).  A cumbersome or overwhelming training plan doesn't work for anyone.

Step 2:  Work back from the primary goal(s).
I like short term goals that lead to the key long term objectives.  Typically, I'll look at the desired end result, and work back from there, picking benchmarks / check points along the journey.  So, if an athlete is preparing to race in their 'A' race in October, all of the events (And training) done beforehand is designed to prepare them for a peak performance at the 'right time'.  In doing so, I pull out the calendar and my notes about how I want the athlete to progress, and start developing the next block of training plan based on that information.  Again, the key to long term success is to test yourself periodically, along that path, to discover what's working, and what's not working.

Step 3:  Foster Life Balance
It's easy to load someones training plan with huge volumes of work and intensity.  The problem with this approach is that it forgets that people aren't machines, and need balance in order to be happy and effective.  Athletes, especially adult athletes, who lose that work/personal life/training balance typically burn out, suffer a major set back in work or personal life relationships, or get injured.  When developing a training plan, I often try to put myself in the athlete's shoes. If its an individual athlete, I also try to look at their life from a global perspective, and create a training scenario where they can grow their athletic performance while maintaining balance and happiness overall. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't, depending on the individual and their personality... but it's always the goal.  

Step 4:  Safety first
Going back to Step 3, I also look at an athletes health and safety, and if the workout regimen supports that notion.  The way a 22 yr old professional athlete trains, in terms of frequency of workouts, intensity, volume and so forth, is very different than the way a 45 yr athlete with a job and 3 kids can train.  A healthy program for the 22 yr old might put the 45 yr old in the hospital.  Knowing that most endurance athletes tend to err on the side of doing too much, over doing too little, I sometimes skew workouts to doing a little less than the athlete may be capable of.  This works well, as most competitive athletes tend to over train anyway.  Rest days and active recovery days are part of the performance equation, as I'm very fond of saying to my coaches at Life Time.

Step 5:  Start Writing!
This step takes awhile, especially for triathletes doing 3-4 sports.  Considering each element of a workout, including duration, frequency, and intensity, and how one day compliments the day before it, and the day after it, takes concentration and time.  You can't rush it either, so most of my workout writing is done in a quiet area with my noise canceling headphones on.  I also tend to like working under the pressure of a deadline (don't know why!), so I work fast and focused.  Early mornings are best for me.... and coffee helps too.

Step 6: Review your Work
After writing the workout draft, whether it's a spreadsheet or on trainingpeaks, I leave it for awhile to marinate. Then, I come back after a bit and check my work and my progression.  Does it make sense? Will it prepare this athlete for their upcoming benchmark race? How does it fit into the annual training progression?  I also do a 'peer review' in my mind, asking myself to critique the workout as if I were a peer professional coach.  If I can't justify the 'why' behind each workout and the general overall design of the program, I go back to the drawing board and start over.    Having written workouts for major publications over the years, I know that my reputation swings in the balance every time I publish a workout or article, so I want to make sure it's 'air tight'.  

So, that's my process in a nutshell!  Check out my latest workout plans by doing PWR Cycle at Life Time (www.lifetimefitness.com) or the free April Spinervals Super6 program

Always an Adventure!
Coach Troy

Monday, March 27, 2017

2017 Life Time Vegas Cycle / Tri Camp Adventure

Our 4th annual Life Time Endurance Cycle / Tri Camp in Vegas was yet another awesome experience.  Ideal weather conditions, super nice people, great local organization (thanks to Pat Treichel and his crew), and scenic routes lend themselves to a wonderful training camp experience for all 38 participants from throughout N. America.
Trail running near Red Rock.


Held each year in Summerlin, NV (20 minutes north of The Vegas Strip), 'basecamp' is at Las Vegas Cyclery.  LVC is the most spectacular Bicycle Retail and Outdoor Adventure store you'll ever visit, and is situated next to The Element Hotel, a nice hotel with great amenities including kitchenettes, and a complete hot breakfast served daily.  

Campers enjoyed packed schedules each day, including swim practices at the nearby Life Time Athletic, as well as Yoga for Cyclists.  Riding routes took campers up and around the majestic Red Rock State Park loop, including a challenging 4 mile climb to the top, with the most spectacular views imaginable.  And after a day of swimming, cycling, running and lectures on training, campers either headed out to catch a show on The Strip, or gathered at local restaurants to celebrate a great day of training and meeting new friends.
Top of Red Rock. Photo Credit: Rob Abraham

I love hosting training camps.  I've been directing endurance training camps each year since my first one in 1995.  It was held at Gettysburg College, a small liberal arts college in Pennsylvania.  My mentor was a professor of Exercise Science there, and he suggested the location.  About 20 athletes attended that first camp, and took part in V02max testing, rides through the battlefields of Gettysburg, and lectures on training by top pro triathlete, Ken Glah.  For me, a young coach and athlete getting my business off the ground, it was an 'a ha!' moment. I discovered that camps could be profitable, fun, and a great way to meet other athletes! From there, I started to offer camps and clinics throughout the year of all sizes, at one point doing up to 10 a year!  Eventually, I expanded the scope of my camps outside the Mid-Atlantic region, offering camps in Arizona, Wisconsin, MN, MD, KY, NY and other venues.  My longest running camps are in Tucson and Lake Placid, at around 16 years each, respectively.    It's such a pleasure to run into campers from years past!
Heading out for a ride!  Photo credit: Rob Abraham


Overall, training camps are a great opportunity to meet like minded people, to learn, train, and to visit new areas.  I highly recommend that every athlete attend a camp to boost their fitness and knowledge base, and to elevate their enthusiasm for their sport to the next level!  I hope to see you at one , someday soon.
Tough Climb @ 12% grade!  Photo Credit: Steve Marshall

For more information about Life Time Endurance Camps, visit http://www.lifetimeendurance.com/training/camps-workshops/
702 Shifters - the BEST Ride Leads!  Photo Credit: Chistina Ross



Saturday, March 18, 2017

Desert Running Lesson - Look and Listen!

Starting to ramp up my run volume now for the Leadville Silver Rush 50 mile run, spending more time running in the desert.  Here in Tucson, we have incredible expanses of open desert that's accessible to the public (with a permit), both State and BLM land. You can literally run or ride for miles and miles without seeing a man made structure, or another person.

I love the desert.  It's raw and unforgiving in terms of the terrain, the vegetation (cactus are pokey.... ever had a jumping cholla grab you?) and the critters.  At the same time, it's beautiful and unique in many ways to this part of the world. As a transplant from the East coast over 8 years ago, I have a great appreciation for it.  I like the green rolling hills and green pastures of the east, but the mystery of the open desert speaks to me even more.  Combine that aspect with the mountains and the open SW sky, it's just awesome.

Now, back to the critters.  In the SW desert, the critters can be dangerous... in fact, they can kill you.  It's not uncommon to run across any number of desert species that will put a hurtn' on you if you disrespect them, or run into them inadvertently.  Probably the most famous of the dangerous desert critters is the Rattlesnake!

Yesterday evening, I was running and heard the bone chilling, heart stopping sound of the 'rattle'.  Turn up your volume to hear it clearly in this video.  This guy was only a few feet away from me under this cactus as I ran too close, and he let me know not to get any closer! This is why I NEVER wear headphones when running in the desert, and am very alert to my surroundings.  Had I been wearing earphones, jamming' to my tunes, I may not of heard his warning to STAY AWAY!

The desert is a magical place in which to escape the comforts of everyday life, as well as the hustle and bustle.  I really hope each of you can one day experience it, and find a deeper connection with nature.   From the sunrise to sunset, to mid-night when you hear the Coyotes yapping in the distance, there's nothing more peaceful and serene.   Enjoy the desert, but also respect it and it's inhabitants.  After all...It's their home, and we're just visiting.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Leverage your Passion!

Heading out on my ride, wearing my PWR Cycle,
and LT Tri Team Kit! I know, not matching
well, as Jen tells me daily.
I'm big on the idea of spending your time doing what you love, and trying to have a positive impact on the world in the process.

It all started for me about 29 years ago when I discovered triathlon.  I became passionate (alright, practically addicted) to the sport.  I read everything I could, experimented with diet and training methods, raced as often as i could afford as a student (thanks mom and dad!).  I even did this crazy race back then called Ironman... back in the day when there were only a handful worldwide.  I was passionate about the fitness, the competition and the lifestyle.  And that's why I became a coach... to monetize my passion and to help others enjoy the sport.

Flash forward 29 years, and I'm one of the lucky ones to have forged a good living around doing something I love.  Everyday I get to not only exercise, whether for competition, fitness or fun, but I also get to talk about training, whether it's teaching or sharing ideas.  My work is my passion, and your's can be too!

What if you could do something everyday as your work, something that you get paid to do,  that you would do anyway?  How would it make you feel? Good I bet, right?  If you're not passionate, at least in part, why are you doing what you're doing.... living in a passionLESS space?   Does that fill your cup?  Is it something you want to do for the next 10, 20, 30+ years?  I'm guessing the answer is NO.

 While I'm not encouraging you to be rash and quit that job you need to pay the bills, I AM suggesting that you look at ways to leverage your passion, and see if you can create opportunities around it.  Your personal effectiveness and overall happiness will be elevated through the roof, and you'll look back in a year and say to yourself, "Why didn't I do this sooner?!"

Live with Passion!
Coach Troy
Sr. National Director - Endurance, Life Time Fitness