Artificial intelligence (AI) and related technologies are not only changing triathlon training for athletes, they are significantly changing the role of a triathlon coach itself. Today's athletes are re-assessing the value of a coach and their expectations of what a coach brings to table. In this episode, we discuss how technology is changing the triathlon coaching environment, how athletes can determine if, when, and why they should hire a coach, and how coaches can best leverage technology (as professionals in other industries have) to increase their value to athletes and grow their business.
TriDot Podcast .018:
Tri Coaching in the Era of AI: A Guide for Coaches and Athletes
This is the TriDot Podcast. TriDot uses your training data and genetic profile combined with predictive analytics and artificial intelligence to optimize your training, giving you better results in less time with fewer injuries. Our podcast is here to educate, inspire, and entertain. We'll talk all things triathlon with expert coaches and special guests. Join the conversation and let's improve together.
Andrew: Welcome to the TriDot Podcast, everyone. Today we have a hot topic that has just been everywhere in the tri world lately. We're talking about triathlon coaching. More specifically, triathlon coaching in the era of artificial intelligence. We’ll be hitting questions like how should coaches best train their athletes? What benefit is there to the athlete to have a coach, and how is technology changing the coaching industry? Okay, y’all. I just went through USA Triathlons Coaching Certification Program, and I'm pleased to announce that I am officially a Level One USAT Certified Coach. That's right. No applause necessary. I'm not any faster than I was before. But maybe, just maybe all the things I learned in the course, will help me ask the best questions possible for us all to keep learning from our podcast experts. Now, enough about me. Let's introduce our expert coaches on the podcast today. We have not two but three experts joining us to talk about triathlon coaching today. First up is coach John Mayfield, a successful Ironman athlete himself. John leads TriDot’s Athlete Services Ambassador and Coaching Programs. He has coached hundreds of athletes ranging from first-timers to Kona qualifiers and professional triathletes. John has been using TriDot since 2010 and coaching with TriDot since 2012. John, how's it going today?
John: Going great, coach. How about you?
Andrew: That's still weird hearing that, it still is. Next up is pro triathlete and coach Elizabeth James. Elizabeth came to sport from a soccer background, and quickly rose through the triathlon ranks using TriDot from a beginner to a top age grouper to a professional triathlete. She's a Kona and Boston Marathon Qualifier who has coached triathletes with TriDot since 2014. Elizabeth, thanks for joining.
Elizabeth: Always a pleasure to be here, Andrew. Thank you so much.
Andrew: Next up is TriDot Founder and CEO, Jeff Booher. Jeff is the chief architect behind TriDot’s insight optimization technology that powers TriDot training. He's a multiple Ironman finisher, who has coached dozens of professional triathletes and national champions, as well as hundreds of age groupers to podiums and PRs since he began coaching in 2003. And since this episode is specifically about tri coaching itself, I want to add that Jeff has a USAT Level Two certification since 2007, and is a USA Track and Field Certified Coach, as well as a USA Cycling Level Three Coach. We're all aspiring to be on Jeff Booher’s level. Jeff, thanks for coming on.
Jeff: Oh, glad to be here. This is gonna be fun. Get to wear two hats today; coach hat and then the technology engineer hat too. So, great topic.
Andrew: All right. And who am I? I am Andrew, the average triathlete, voice of the people and the captain of the middle of the pack. We'll get going with today's warm up question and then get into the main set conversation discussing how coaches and athletes can benefit from technology in the sport. For our cool down, we'll leave you all with some quick practical training advice that can be applied to your next training sessions. It's going to be great. Let's get to it.
Time to warm up. Let's get moving.
Andrew: All right. Fun group warm up question today. All Ironman events keep the finish line crowd pumped up and enhance the finishing experience for the athlete by blasting upbeat music as the MCs call every racer home. With thousands of athletes on course, we obviously have zero control over what song is playing while we cross that finish line. But imagine a world where we could, what song would you want pumping through the speakers as you made your way down the red carpet and across the finish line? John, I kind of in my head equate this to the baseball player walk-up music, which is I know a sport near and dear to your heart. So, let's start with you. What song would you want playing as you finish an Ironman?
John: So, on these podcasts, these are always far and away the most difficult questions that we are posed. So, I appreciate the fact that you gave us time to prepare for this one. So, I actually have answers, not just one, I have multiple answers for today. [crosstalk]
Andrew: Perfect. I knew this would be a doozy, so I really wanted you to dial in your answer.
John: So, first answer and first thought was if I were faster, Queens We are the Champions would be fantastic. But I think it’d be kind of awkward like, in where I come in across the finish line.
Andrew: You can’t be 133rd in your age group blaring “We are the Champions.”
John: It’s just not the same. And then second answer, I actually have to credit [crosstalk] coach Jeff Raines with this fantastic answer of Chariots of Fire and do the full-on slow motion down the red carpet, which that would be completely epic. But mine, this kind of this random song that's popped up a couple times in like the last week, would be Rollin’ by Limp Bizkit.
Andrew: Rollin’ by Limp Bizkit. That's the one that starts off, he's like rolling, rolling, right?
John: Yeah, Radiohead [crosstalk].
Andrew: Okay. All right. I can get behind that one. All right. Let's move to Elizabeth James. Coach Elizabeth, what song would you want blaring through the speakers as you finish an Ironman?
Elizabeth: Man, I love such a variety of music, but I'm thinking that a good one for the finish line would be Nelly’s Here Comes The Boom.
Andrew: Which for the record, if you're not aware of Nelly, Here Comes The Boom that was like the song of and the soundtrack to the Adam Sandler version of--
Jeff: The Longest Yard.
Andrew: The Longest Yard. The Adam Sandler version of The Longest Yard [crosstalk] Nelly, Here Comes The Boom on was like the theme of like them playing football on the field. So, I want you guys to go listen to Nelly Here Comes The Boom on Spotify, iTunes, whatever, and just picture Elizabeth raging as she comes across the finish line. So, Jeff Booher, what would you want?
Jeff: Well, this is hard. I'd love to take Elizabeth’s- when I was planning I could finish within that same song, get that close to her, that would be a great day. I might have to modify the words, my nickname is-- since my last name is Boo. So, Here Comes The Boo, maybe, so I adapt it. But seriously, I thought of a couple of them depends on how the day goes. Maybe the theme song to Top Gun would be kind of cool, the epic music that came out the remix would be cool. Or if I had a PR, it might have to be Moving On Up, the Jeffersons theme song. So, I think that’d be pretty cool.
Andrew: You’re really diving into the TV and film soundtrack for your, which is fun cuz I hadn't even thought of that. I hadn’t even thought of like a movie score, right, but there's some epic music in a lot of movie scores.
John: So, if mine shows my age, Jeff's definitely shows his age.
Jeff: Moving on up to the big time.
Andrew: Well, I thought about this and I was bouncing some ideas off my wife. And I kind of had the same approach as Elizabeth. I was trying to think of, okay, what are the songs that I really rage to during those zone four efforts in my workouts, and what's a good pump-up song? But it's also I mean, coming across the finish line is also a moment of celebration. So, I was like, okay, what's, a good song that when I hear it, it just puts a smile on my face, when I hear it like it's pumped up, but it's also fun and celebratory. And so what I'm going with, Space Jam, from the movie Space Jam. Classic 90s movie, Michael Jordan [crosstalk] playing basketball with the Looney Tunes. But when that song comes on because here's the thing, it'd be fun for me to finish too, but it'd be even more fun for my family at the finish line because my wife loves that song. And Morgan Harley, when that song comes on, on our Spotify, like she goes hard jamming out to that song. And so it'd be fun for her to rock out, for me to finish too, it'd be a nice little Harley moment at the finish line with that 1990s Classic Space Jam blaring across the speakers. So, hey, we're going to take this question and we're going to throw it out on the TriDot Facebook, TriDot Instagram, and we want to hear from you guys; what song would you want to be blaring over the loudspeakers as you finish an Ironman? I'm sure there's some great answers out there from the TrDot Podcast Family. So, be on the lookout for that post going out today on our social media.
On to the main set. Going in 3, 2, 1.
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On the podcast, we talked about the things that are relevant to triathletes in the triathlon market as a whole. And a topic that I see coming up just in a lot of different places right now is triathlon coaching. I've seen athletes asking if the benefit of having a coach is worth a price tag. I've heard new and established coaches both asking if TriDot’s technology can coexist with our coaching approach. And recently, the whole TriDot team, we were at a major triathlon conference out in Arizona, and I sat in conversations where the industry leaders were talking about what the future of coaching looks like for our sport, particularly as technology becomes the standard. Today, whenever we mentioned technology, what we're really talking about is the machine learning, artificial intelligence, and advanced analytics, and other related technologies that are starting to make their way into triathlon training. So, today, I asked a few of our experts to come on and talk about triathlon coaching. Where is the industry heading? What does it mean for coaches, and what do athletes need to consider when working with a coach? So, Jeff, let's start here. The hot topic is technology and how it's ushering in the next wave of coaching. Tell us a little about how coaching has traditionally looked like, and how tech is changing how coaches coach their athletes.
Jeff: All right. That's a great place to start just kind of surveying the landscape of coaching and what the industry look like or and still looks like to a great deal. Triathlon or coaches in general have been generalists. They've been consultants, subject matter experts, nutritionists, they do training, program design, motivation, accountability, biomechanics. You know, you think of a lot of things when you think of a coach, someone to go to for advice, and motivation and such. And then, based on your background, as a coach, or what you're looking for, if you're an athlete looking for a coach, there's some level of specialization. So, you're wanting someone with some unique, whether it's what interests you the most, where you need the most work. And so a coach is good to have or develop some sort of a service mix. So, there's all these services that coaches can provide, and how do you differentiate yourself and accentuate that these are the type of athletes that I like to work with, this is what I say how I'm different, unique. So, a great fit for a coach is when you match that athlete need with the coaches specialty, and then there's a great relationship. They get along well, communicate well, kind of see the world the same way or at least they have that good understanding where they're coming from, and that takes years to develop. So, kind of most coaching services, most of the ones I just mentioned are really, they're improved by technology, but not substantially changed. For example, social media allows you to give attaboys and catch up, recognize athletes, motivate them, build community online. There's video feedback, so you're able to not actually be present, but do a video of me on the treadmill or bike fit or a number of different things, talk, you can build a relationship better, faster, quicker.
Andrew: So, that's one way coaches are using technology.
Jeff: But it's just a modality, a method of communication. It’s not really substantially changing the actual service that they're offering. And where I see the biggest change, and this has been you know, for going on, almost for 15 years now, and huge changes in the triathlon training program design piece. And that's where you can leverage this data, more and more data, it’s getting more and more accurate, more and more sources, where that AI machine, learning analytics; all that stuff is doing things that only that technology can do.
Andrew: And program design, just for our athletes that are listening, when we talk about that, that's like what workout you're doing on what day building up towards your race. That's what we mean when we say program design, right?
Jeff: Correct. Program design, building it out, where are you now, what should you do every week, mesocycles periodizing it, managing stress loads, workload shaping is what we call it. So, a whole lot of decisions go into that. That’s the core of our technology. So, and I think in-- Well, I know that that is where the industry is being impacted the most, that program design. So, we've effectively decoupled program design from coaching. So, five years ago, 10 years ago, when you, and still today, a lot of people think coaching, you think program design. I need a coach.
Andrew: You think that's the number one thing a coach should give you is-- [crosstalk]
Jeff: Yeah. It’s either-or. Are you going to train on your own? Are you gonna hire a coach? So, and the coach means I'm getting a training plan designed whether it's a custom one time plan or they're monitoring it and adjusting it on an ongoing basis. But that is the core of the service provided by a coach. And with our technology, we make that piece of all of those services largely, I want to say obsolete, it’s not the right word, but the technology can do it better than the coach can. And that's what-- but that's just one service that the coach provides. We have the stats, we track this. So, our training optimization technology delivers 2.4 times more training improvement than a coach designed and optimized plan. When the coach is manually adjusting it over time, and that's just not highlights or anecdotal, that's across more than 15,000 athletes in those studies. So, it's demonstrably more effective, more accurate, and better. And then I see that, I guess it goes a little bit beyond the scope of what we're talking about today, like how that technology works, and what all that does. I just refer you to a couple of podcasts for our listeners, maybe you can put them in the show notes. We have the Episode 15, which is training analytics for triathletes. We have the evolution of athlete, the data and the feedback, how the preseason project has changed that year after year. We’re going on 10 years of that research, which kind of maps how we come and learn and progressed. There's Episode Nine, doing the right training right, harnessing your DNA to optimize your training, optimizing your training schedule, so some of exactly what goes into that decision making. [crosstalk]
Andrew: Yeah. So, any of our listeners who want to hear who haven't heard about how our technology works, those are the episodes they need to go listen to. Today, we're not diving into the technology as much as we're talking about how the technology can help.
Jeff: How it impacts the environment of a coach, the approach of an athlete if they're saying, hey, I want a coach, I want to do better. What do I look for in a coach when coaches are looking to hone their skills and stay, you know, up to speed with their skill set? The technology removes the inefficiency and the waste in the process. With tons and tons of surveys we've done with coaches, we find that coaches spend two thirds to three-quarters of their time per athlete per week. So, if you're looking at athletes per week, on average it’s about two hours per athlete per week working without that athlete or the athlete’s data. Two thirds to three fourths of that time is spent writing the plan, modifying the plan, monitoring process.
Andrew: So, that’s 66 to 75% of their time is traditionally has been spent writing plans?
Jeff: Correct. That's a huge component. Now, here's something that can do that entire piece without any time being spent. The coach can still go in and modify and that is not saying that there aren't things that a coach can do to further optimize, make it better. And for the athlete, there's many instances like that. But the core of the bulk of it is like the most, actually most in the same surveys, we look at the coaches and most of them don't like doing that part. They don't like designing the training. Some do. It’s about 20%, you know, give or take, but, and they keep, they take pride in the work. And they do it diligently and they work hard at it.
Andrew: But I think most coaches get into coaching because they like the people, and they want to spend time with the people. So, if you're only spending 25% of your time coaching the people and 75% of the time writing plans and workouts for the people, you're not doing what you love to do.
Jeff: Exactly. So, some coaches enjoy doing that, most don't, they'd rather work with people, and then that kind of goes back to that other part that relationship, how important that relationship people is with the athletes. And so the more inclined a coach is to spend time on the data with their nose in the weeds and the numbers and looking at those things, the less likely they are to be building relationships and getting to know their athlete as a person, as a human being; the non-data elements of that athletes personality, emotions, aspirations, dream. From an athlete standpoint, think about if you're paying for a coach, not using software to do this, they're doing it old school manual way; two thirds, two, three-fourths of every dollar that you pay them is going to do something that you could get better, more cost-effectively, in a better product some other way with optimized training. But also, all of that money could be spent, you look at the opportunity cost, that time could be spent on higher-value things that you can deliver, that only a person could deliver.
Andrew: They would have potentially more time to work with you on your form, to potentially have more time to answer your questions about your upcoming race if-- [crosstalk]
Jeff: Right, help with understanding, education, occasion nutrition. I mean, it’s endless, the number of things that, you know, the broad spectrum of what coaches can offer, do. But unfortunately, you have to have a plan. And so when coaches are doing a job, they're forced into that spending without technology, two thirds to three-quarters of their time, doing stuff that can be done with technology. And so it's an example of how in our industry now TriDot is using data and technology to enhance triathlon coaching, but it's just like data and technology has been used in dozens of other professions, and it's just fundamentally changed the way those professions operate, and the way you engage and professionals employ their craft or the trade.
Andrew: Yeah, what it reminds me of a little bit is, is right now when you look at the kind of real estate buying, selling your home industry. Traditionally, you would have to go through a real estate agent or realtor. And they're the ones that can come out to your house and help you evaluate what it's worth, and what you should sell it for and what you should buy another home for. And now, you're having Realtor.com and Zillow, and all these other kind of technological services coming out that can do a lot of that for them. And so in the real estate industry, you see, you still use a realtor but the role of the realtor is somewhat is changing to be a little bit. So, I kind of equated to that a little bit on how the role of the coach is starting to change. What are maybe some other tangible examples like that have some technology, some industries where technology has really come in and enhanced the profession?
Elizabeth: I kind of liken this to the advancements in technology in the medical field. So, you have x-rays and MRI machines that enhance what doctors are able to do. Doctors are provided with additional insight that helps them provide better patient care. But these technological advances didn't replace the doctors themselves. You still need that actual person to care for the patient, and this is very similar. Tech is not replacing coaching, it's just enhancing the level of service that the coach can provide.
John: So, Andrew, your example of the real estate agent was great.
Andrew: Well, thank you, John.
John: It doesn't replace the real estate agent, there's absolutely still a role for that. But the technology can do things like pull comps and estimate values and all those things that are somewhat laborious and time-consuming so that real estate agent can do those other things that really enhance their service and provide value to their customers. I travel a lot, so one thing that I've definitely seen change over the years, and I think it's something that everybody probably uses is how we get around. So, I live in Houston, we're here in Dallas. And so I drove here, this time and I still use Google Maps to get here. Before Google Maps, it would have been the key maps, which probably half the listeners don't even know what key maps is. But it was this big book. And it had lots and lots of maps. And as you got to the end of one page, it would refer you over to another page. And-- [crosstalk]
Andrew: I remember AAA had a trip tik. And I'm like, anytime we did a road trip somewhere, like my parents would go to AAA and talk to an agent and get a trip tik. And they would have to go and look at oh, here's where the construction is, here's where the routes are changed because of this, this and this, and you had to pay AAA for that every single time you wanted to go on a road trip, or you were flying blind.
John: And coming here is a great example. We are on the west side of Dallas, I live on the south side of Houston. There are a lot of different ways to get across Dallas and it seems like every time I come, it routes me a different way because at any given time, there's a better way, perhaps than the one before. And if I were just looking at a map, I'd probably choose the shortest, but you know, it may be gridlock traffic or road closures and all that. I wouldn't know based on just looking at a map. Same thing like when I fly. Used to when you would fly somewhere, you'd call the travel agent and pay them a fee to book your flight. And now I can very easily go on to Travelocity or anything like that and book a flight from Houston to Dallas. I don't need a whole lot of help doing that. But at the same time, if I'm booking a European vacation and want to hit five different countries and spend three weeks over there, yeah, I need a travel agent that has that expertise, and can really add value in that way. So, again, it just kind of changes the role and allows these professionals to really shine in their areas of expertise.
Jeff: I love what, I mean what John was saying there, it kind of gets to what is the consumer, the athlete in his case, the traveler looking for, what value do they want out of that depends on what technology he uses, and how that has changed. You said a second ago, without that you're flying blind. So, my analogy would be actually a pilot. So, I'm not a pilot, so forgive me if I don't use a terminology exactly right. But as it's been explained to me, there's VFR visual flight rules and IFR instrument, flight rules. And so there's environments where it's visual meteorological conditions or instrument meteorological conditions. So, when everything is daylight and clear, little cloud coverage, anybody can go out and just look around and see and fly in. And so you can be a certain rating of a pilot and go fly in those conditions. But if it's cloudy or stormy, or dark, or night or all of these different things, you don't have visibility to what's out there, so you can't go by visual flight rules. You have to be instrument rated, and you have to be able to fly using instruments and not your eyesight. And I see that the instruments help pilots do what they otherwise couldn't do. And it helps the passengers go where and when they otherwise couldn't go. And so when we're applying that to athletes and coaches, with the amount of data that comes, and the amount of things that technology can do with that data, it provides visibility and numbers and correlations and all the kind of things that a-- [crosstalk] coach just can’t do. It's like flying at night in a storm, with mountains and hills and towers and all this kind of stuff that they just, they can't do that like technology can. But it's actually safer to fly with instruments than it is visual. Because it's more precise, there's backup plans and backups upon backups, and things happen. And so the value that's created there is just incredible. So, that's not something to be threatened by as a coach or to shy away from. It’s technology--
Andrew: It’s something to leverage.
Jeff: Exactly right. We're not putting the genie back in the bottle with data and technology. It's here to stay, it's common. So, you're going to either harness it, embrace it, or you're going to push it away and resist it. And so I just encourage coaches and athletes to just recognize the changing landscape, consider what you want out of that coaching relationship and see how technology plays into that and you can have the best of both worlds.
Andrew: So, Jeff at the endurance exchange conference that we were all just at in Tempe, Arizona, just a couple weeks ago, you and some of our TriDot team were attending a session with probably about 250-300 of the, just the top triathlon coaches in the sport, talking about the future of triathlon coaching. Now, it was an open forum where coaches were standing up and asking all sorts of questions. And about halfway through the session, a coach stood up and asked, “What about technology and artificial intelligence? Isn't that where everything is going? What's that going to do to coaches?” The moderator leading the discussion immediately pointed you out of the crowd, and asked you to address the comments, and kind of just riff on it a little bit, talk about it a little bit. You weren't even on the panel. You didn't raise your hand and asked to speak. It was just a sudden impromptu exchange. Can you describe kind of that experience and what that showed you about how technology and AI are being viewed by the coaches in the industry?
Jeff: First of all, the first thing I noticed was the anxiety in the room that there was a threatened feeling kind of like I was just mentioning of anxiety about technology and a perceived threat to coaches, and this is against us. You know, they were trying to talk about their, how do you get more athletes and make money and make this sustainable, you know, way of life? And so there was that big fear.
John: So, something that was kind of interesting was we were kind of in the middle of the room when we kind of got called out. And through really, this was like, the last day of the conference, it was in the afternoon. I think everybody was kind of starting to check out so it was a lot of eyes on phones, and that sort of thing. But as soon as this question was asked, it was like, all of a sudden, we had 300 pairs of eyes on us. It was kind of intimidating, but it was also really cool because here we are with our peer group, there's 300 of the top coaches in the industry, all of a sudden looking to us.
Andrew: And it was great that the moderator like when technology came up, the moderator knew that TriDot, oh, they're the people doing this, let them talk about this.
John: Yeah, unplanned, we were front and center, which kind of worked out. But yeah, it was definitely interesting to-- we were definitely put on the spot. But it was a great opportunity as well.
Jeff: Yeah, it was noticeably different. And honestly, their anxiety I soon felt. I'm generally not too shy about speaking in front of groups, [crosstalk] I’ve spoken in front of thousands before but I stood up at first and started addressing the question. And then it was just like John said, it was just a change. Like, I felt like every I turned toward me, and what happened actually right before that is he pointed me out and mentioned to me, why don't you talk about that. And then he started talking about another organization, was making some critical comments about their use of AI replacing the coach, and kind of negative criticisms, whatever, and then flipped it right back to me. And I'm like, oh, is all that going to come my way? And so all I could think was really I wanted to ease the fears of the coaches and the concerns about AI. We haven't really marketed to coaches heavily at all. We’ve really just been very athletes centric and a lot of coaches have come to us and we have a bunch of coaches currently, and we're expanding that. But I just wanted to ease their fear and just stress that technology is here to handle the data and do things that only technology can do. And that enables a coach to do the things that only human beings can do, only coaches can care for athletes. So, at the time those athletes weren't visualizing an environment where they could actually use the AI themselves and harness that-- [crosstalk]
Andrew: They saw it as the AI versus me.
Jeff: This other thing and-- [crosstalk]
Andrew: The AI is trying to replace me.
Andrew: And that’s not necessarily the case. That's definitely not the case from TriDot’s point of view.
Jeff: Exactly. Yep.
Andrew: So, you said that you know, so in that moment you wanted to assure the coaches that their concerns, their fears, were unfounded. Hey, TriDot, at least is not looking to replace you with technology. We're looking to empower you with technology, if anything. Is there anything else in that moment, you were kind of put on the spot, so I know it's hard to think of what you want to say put on the spot. But for coaches listening now, listening to this conversation, like what would you want coaches to know about how they can partner with technology?
Jeff: Well, aside from you getting on say a soapbox, but give them a sales pitch and helping them understand what the technology does, that would be one thing. I'd say that's not a topic for today, but go listen to the podcast, check it out, it's just like an instrument rating on a pilot. You can just, you go places you couldn’t before. But the big thing would be a lot of them didn't know that we serve coaches too. And I just want them to know that the TriDot is available for them and their athletes. It was built for athletes and coaches. TriDot has always had coaches. There's never been a time, I am a coach, like you mentioned kind of early on, a level two coach for what, 13 years now; USA Cycling, USA Track and Field, I’ve been in data and technology for 30 years, professionally, but I've also been a coach and trainer for 30 years; through the army, through college, 18 years as a triathlon coach. You know, I told them, I was looking up that panel, there's three panelists moderators. One of them, his dad, he's been a coach for forever, I respect him very much. Dirk Friel, his dad went to a clinic, did a clinic with Joe in-- 17 years ago, just have the ultimate respect for them, learned a ton from them. One of the other guys the other panelists was Graham Wilson. He and I roomed together at the Olympic Training Center nine years ago. We both had elite athletes that we were working with, a small group of 12 athletes we were working with for a week. So, we're coaches.
Andrew: So, all people you've coached with, and worked with and learned from. [crosstalk]
Jeff: Coached with, respect. I'm a coach, I'm working with athletes face to face one to two hours a day, five days a week. So, I just say I'm one of you. I'm not like a just a token get a certification just to be a data guy to say, hey, I'm qualified here. That's equal passion, coaching, and technology and it’s a marriage of the two. One’s not superior to the other. They should be complimentary. The other thing that I’d mentioned and was the theme, there's a big theme, there's a few themes there. But one lady really emphasized because we were talking a lot about data and what training they should do and how to handle athlete’s training, and just listening to them. And she came back she goes, sometimes you need to get, you know, spend less time on the data. and remember that you're working with athletes, you're working with human beings. And she got-- I wouldn’t say applause, but I mean, people are nodding their heads like, yeah, they’re people, you know, get too in the weeds, and your nose in your computer and not listening to the athlete.
And then on my mind, I'm thinking, yes, do that, exactly right. Let the technology do this. Exactly. I hear your passion. But it don’t have to be one or the other, it doesn't have to be neglect one and spend time on the other. Let's make them both happen. So, that was one thing. I think kind of back to the bottom line is the assurance that the coaches are here to stay as long as there's athletes that are human beings, there's going to be coaches that are too. But at the same time, we're-- the landscape has changed. Coaching is changing, these things again, you're not gonna put the genie back in the bottle. The coaches need adapt, they need to embrace, upgrade their skill set, learn and take a, you know, look at look at all the other industries and see what the successful professionals and all of those different vocations and industries have done and how it’s made the industry better, more effective, more valuable and more sustainable. So, you know, which path of you know, which side of that technology do they want to be on? They're going to be resisting or embracing or engaging with it.
Andrew: So, I think we've really covered and established kind of where the industry is right now in terms of coaching itself and the direction it's headed. The role technology has. So, let's talk for a little bit about what this means for athletes. Right? I've seen so many athletes on TriDot come in and say, “Hey, love the training, the training plans, love the workouts I have. Hey, with this training being so well designed, like why do I need a coach? Why can't I just follow the training?” And they know a lot of their peers have coaches and as technology is getting into the sport and it's making program design smarter and smarter, Elizabeth, what benefit is there for an athlete to still have a coach?
Elizabeth: Well, when I think about coaching, I always associate it with one of my favorite quotes. I have this quote on my Instagram profile, on my coaching page, my host profile for the podcast here, hanging in my home office for when I review [crosstalk] athlete training plans. It’s one of my favorites. So, Benjamin Disraeli said, “The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches, but to reveal to him his own.” And to me, that is the heart of coaching. That quote really kind of sums up my background and my previous professional career and education and highlights my passion for coaching. Because the bottom line in both of these is the opportunity to bring out the best in somebody else. You know, having a coach provides a direct line of personalized communication about an athlete's objectives and the processes in place kind of for their goal attainment. So, a coach hold a place of respect and authority while still being approachable as a role model and a mentor, that provide vision accountability and objective outlook for prioritizing training sessions, adjustments to the training sessions to you know, account for scheduling, gosh, for injury or illness technique, analysis, adjustment, advice on season planning, race execution, nutrition and I mean, honestly, that's just the couple things that I can rattle off the top of my head right now.
Jeff: I think that's great. I’d echo what Elizabeth just went through there. I kind of group of myself into, and I don't think triathlon or TriDot-- We don't think that every athlete should have a coach or needs a coach. I think every athlete could benefit for a coach, but it's really a matching of what the athletes want in a coach. And I mean, there's budget, there's different things to consider. But when you look at the skills and what a coach delivers, I first look at the relationship. You can't have a relationship with technology. So, are you looking for someone to communicate with someone to share the experience with, someone to help you through season planning, and check your priorities, and ask you tough questions, get you to rethink things, to set your goals, to bring you back down to earth, you know, when you're setting unreasonable goals, or lift you up when you're having some disappointments.
And that accountability and motivation and mental skills, post and pre-race strategy debriefs; all of those things are, can only be done relationally. I think of another area where it's just a strictly a service area, where you know, they're answering questions for you, giving you execution, training execution assistance, they're helping you understand things, help speeding your learning process. They're being proactive, they're answering questions that you don't even know to ask yet. So, rather than going through training for 2, 3, 4 months, and then you run across something, you read it, you hear it on podcast, then you apply it; well if the coach knows where you're at, what your background is, they may tell you that upfront. And so you're not having to ask and learn and then figure it out, they're telling you that upfront. I think adjusting for things that are non-data related, you know, preferences, values, time available, training, travel or travel and injury; all of those different things are services provided by a coach. So, you’re desiring those services.
Andrew: Those are things with that person to person contacts, communication relationships really come into play.
Jeff: And then like she mentioned the highest-- the higher value stuff, this nutritional consulting, the form and technique analysis. You need someone looking at you and making those judgment calls on what you need to do different. Are you, you know, adhering and are you responding to that? Are you doing something differently or are you not? You just perceive that you are but you're not, so that unbiased feedback.
Andrew: And I'll just say this, they're, just for me personally, I was on TriDot for about a year and my swim times were getting faster and faster and faster. And I had a pretty significant improvement in my swim couple months ago when the TriDot staff, we were all together, kind of doing some meetings and on lunch, myself, John, Elizabeth, Coach Jeff Raines, we all went to the pool to get a little lunch swim in on a Monday. And while we were there, I took a little longer than then John and Jeff Raines and so they were poolside and just saw me in my cool down. And both of them really quickly just “Hey on, you know, on your…” Like they both pointed something out really quickly on my swim form. And so I started kind of and John gave me “Yeah, you really need to do the fingertip drag drill to really work on…” And so I started applying that and I saw a significant improvement in my swim time about a month or two later from working that drill in, working those actual tangible observed things. It was a coach that saw that at the pool with me. It wasn't the algorithms that saw that, you know, my arm needed to do something slightly different coming up. So, coaches can add that value where the technology can’t.
John: Right. I couldn't keep up with you yesterday. You're smoking fast in the pool.
Andrew: I don't know if that's true.
Jeff: That's great. And it’s what, you know, what value are you looking for as an athlete? So, when you're looking to hire a coach, don't hire a coach obviously, you think of your budget, you know, is this even feasible?. Is it? Some people, it's, this is my passion, my sport, I just want to do it right. I want it first class, and I want to splurge, this is my thing, and that's great. That's a great thing. Other people, it’s personality. I want to work with a person. I want to call a person, I want them to call me. If I'm off the wagon, I want to say where are you at? You can do this. You know, I want a person, I want a relationship, I want that part of the experience. Or it’s those-- the services. I specifically have need in these areas. I want to be proactive about it. I don't want to just learn as it comes to me. So, when athletes are really clear on what they want, they want that proactive consultant to direct their path forward or they just want someone's on-demand. Hey, if I need you, I'll call you, and just be clear on that. And that'll really help them make a good decision about whether a coach is right for them or not.
John: So, what's great about working with a coach with TriDot is we know the benefit of TriDot, we know the performance gains that are had by following optimize training, leveraging this technology to create training plans specifically for each individual. And we have a fantastic group of coaches that we work with and they're passionate, they're well educated, they're experienced, they provide a high level of service to the athletes they work with. And there are lots of great coaches out there that are not using TriDot, lots of great people in the space. But the difference is TriDot provides that combination of the training plan that is created specifically for the individual, and allows the coach then to work with the athlete, and provide all those services that Jeff mentioned earlier. And there's a saying in weight loss that you can't out-exercise a bad diet.
Andrew: So true.
John: So, you know, you can exercise eight hours a day but if you're still eating bad, it doesn't matter how much exercise you do. It's-- you're not going to out-exercise the bad diet. And it really doesn't matter how great the coach is, if the training plan isn't there, if the work that the athlete is doing day in, day out 5-10, 15-20 hours a week isn't created specifically for them and optimized to produce their best results, the athlete is still going to fall short of their potential, which is a great tragedy after investing all that time.
Andrew: Yeah, no, it's so true. If you're gonna spend the time to try to get ready for that race, why not do it as well as you can? So, talk to me about this, if someone already has a coach, or maybe they sign on to train with a coach that is not leveraging technology and artificial intelligence into the training plan design, what would be different from that coaching experience versus having a coach that recognizes that they can partner with optimized training?
Elizabeth: Well, we talked quite a bit earlier about how most often coaches are spending the majority of their time actually writing the training plans. And so that time is being spent in the program design instead of communicating with our athletes. And you know, let me be clear, this is not a criticism of other coaches. They aren't making it a point to not communicate with their athletes and some coaches still do a fantastic job of being readily available to their athletes and prioritizing that communication. But when you spend hours writing specific workout sessions, that time cannot also be spent in conversation with athletes. So, there's only so many hours in the day, there's only so many hours that the coach has to allocate. So, when a coach is leveraging technology for that training design, then they're freed up for that communication with athletes about you know, so many of the items that we just mentioned, like season planning, goal setting, mental skills, race execution, and so on.
John: So, a workaround that a lot of coaches will implement here is instead of spending that time to create training for each individual, they just use templates. And this is something that's very common, and it's easy. I would even dare to say it's kind of lazy. It's definitely lazy.
Andrew: And so they're getting 10-12 athletes on board and those athletes could be very different and they might give me the similar workouts they're giving to someone of a very different ability, right.
John: Right. And either the training plan is going to underperform or over train them, the odds of it being specifically right for that one individual is crazy. It's you know, something like when we go to a fast food restaurant and the burger’s already made, and all they do is turn around and pull the burger off the cart and hand it to you. We know that's low quality. We know, that's not a high quality product. And when a training plan is created before the individual even approaches the coach, it’s the same thing. It's pretty much the lowest quality we have to deal with. That's kind of like that fast food burger that's been sitting under the heat lamp for a while. Whereas when we go to a nice restaurant for a high quality meal, they're coming, they're asking you exactly what you want. You know, if it's a steak or something like that, it's how do you want it cooked, and all those kinds of things. So, really catering to the individual delivering a high quality product created specifically for each individual verse, just something that’s again, kind of been sitting under a heat lamp for a while.
Andrew: This is another question I hear from a lot of athletes. I think a lot of people have the notion that getting a coach is only for the elites. It's only for those who are fast enough, it’s only for those who are maybe in contention or maybe you just have the budget. So, for people who are beginners, maybe they're hanging out with me in the middle of the pack; is getting a coach for them also, or is it really at the point that you are trying to podium or trying to get a certain result, is that the point you get a coach?
Elizabeth: Now, John has been my coach from beginner triathlete to my first Ironman finish at the middle of the pack to an Elite Age Grouper World Championship Qualifier, and now as a Professional Triathlete. So, I think that my personal journey in the sport and having a coach throughout that entire time is a great illustration of how a coach is beneficial no matter where an athlete is in their triathlon journey. I mean, just kind of thinking back as a beginner triathlete, I had a lot of questions about just getting started in the sport; such as what gear do I buy? How do I set up a transition area? Am I even going to make it to the finish line? And then as I gained some experience in the sport and kind of look toward my first Ironman finish line, you know, I still had a lot of questions but they centered very specifically on my preparations for that particular event. So, for example, when prepping for Ironman Wisconsin, John and I discussed practicing race day nutrition on my longer training sessions, and monitoring my heart rate and power so that I could keep those in check throughout race day, and you know, really follow my race execution plan. And then gosh, we discussed all the logistical details of racing longer, such as packing and utilizing special needs bags along the racecourse. And as I became more and more competitive, our discussions centered more on season planning and form analysis, mental skills. And then today, I mean, we're still in touch on a daily basis about some of these items. So, you know, the types of questions and the topics of discussion sessions have really evolved in the past six years. But the frequency of communication and the importance of having a coach throughout this entire time kind of remains unchanged for me.
John: So, this is something we have a conversation with our coaches fairly often. I always equate it to parenting. And this is something that we want our coaches to deliver to their athletes and it's as a parent, you have a newborn baby, they're constantly needing your attention. They don't know anything, and so it's up to the parent to basically teach them everything and that's kind of the newbie-- [crosstalk]
Andrew: I don’t have kids yet, John, I don’t want to do all that.
John: So, as infants, as newborns, babies are completely reliant on their parents for everything, and then they become toddlers, they become a little bit more self-sufficient. They've learned, they're executing, and then they come up through their teenage years and in their 20s. And now we hope at some point they become largely self-sufficient. That's kind of where I'm at with my kids. My kids are teenagers, and largely, they're becoming self-sufficient, they brush their teeth most days, they shower. So, yeah, and that's kind of part of my job as a parent is to teach my kids how to be self-sufficient adults. And now kind of flipping the role with my parents is, we're past that, obviously, but I still have a relationship with my parents. And when it comes to the big decisions, I still have those communication with them. You know, those kind of big life events or the big celebrations or the big issues that I'm facing. I'll still go to my parents for feedback and advice and to celebrate things. So, the communication is different just like Elizabeth was saying, the role throughout the athlete coach relationship can change, but it's always there and there's always value in that just kind of like the communication and education that a parent always provides to their kids.
Andrew: So, no matter where you are in your athlete journey, beginner, intermediate, whatever, the role of the coach is there, the role of the coach is valuable, and you can have a coach. You're worthy of having a coach, no matter where you are in your journey.
John: Absolutely. And as you'll see, the vast majority of professional athletes all have coaches. And it's not because they don't know stuff. It's not because they're not experienced, it's because there's value in having an objective second opinion and have someone else to bounce stuff off of and all those things that a coach provides.
Jeff: There's been numerous studies, a plethora of studies a bunch, talking about that the success or the effectiveness of a coach is not correlated to the coach’s experience, education, knowledge, any of those things, but it's the quality of the relationship between the coach and the athlete. The stronger the relationship between the coach and obviously coaches should know what they're doing, some degree, but the biggest factor is the relationship. And so the more time the coaches work with the athlete and over long periods of time, like John's mentioned with kids, maybe the frequency of interaction isn't as much, but when that interaction or communication does happen, it's more important it’s bigger, much more consequential matters.
Andrew: So, this is a question that isn't on the script and I'm going to direct it to John first unless someone else has a more immediate response. But I think you will because I was asked this recently on Facebook, an athlete asked me this and I think it's a great question. I think a lot of triathletes are maybe in this boat. Maybe they are following a training plan, and they don't have a coach. They've signed up for that A race. Maybe it's that half Ironman, maybe it's the Ironman, maybe it's that key, local sprint, they just want to demolish when the time comes. I had an athlete recently asked me, hey, how far out from, in this case, it was an Ironman, but how far out from that A race, if I have limited budget, I can't afford a coach all year, but I want some help getting ready for that A race; how far out would you recommend an athlete sign up with a coach and really get that process going?
John: It's kind of a hard answer. Obviously, the more time, the better, the more that relationship is going to develop, and that has a lot to do with it. Just like Jeff was saying, that is such a critical component, and relationship building takes time. So, when race day approaches, the more time you've been working with the coach, the better you're going to know the coach and the coach is going to know the athlete and know how to tailor everything to the athletes so they can have a great experience. So, this is something that's pretty common. A lot of times as that big race approaches, they really want to maximize their experience so they involve a coach at that point. I would say, I think the probably the logical answer, maybe expected answer would be maybe three to four months out from the race when you really start to build, that's when the volume becomes progressively longer.
Andrew: That would be maybe your bare minimum.
John: What I would say is, is if I had to have say a four to six month period, would rather work with the athlete four to six months, or four to eight months out from the race, as opposed to those final months leading into the race simply because that time is so important in establishing how well that athlete is going to perform. That goes back to that power, stamina paradox and fast before far, strong before long. Building the stamina is really the focus of those last several months. That really is when race day becomes hyper-focused, but oftentimes the athletes neglect that period prior. And that's really-- What I always say is, is your finishing time is determined six months out from race day. Not in the three to four months leading into the race. That's-- you're doing the work but really, you're finishing time is established, four to six months out, and how much power, how much functional threshold do you develop, and then you have to add the stamina to it. But adding that stamina, while critical, doesn't really determine your finishing time. [crosstalk]
Andrew: It gets you ready to last.
John: It gets you to the finish line. The work that you do four to six months out determines how quick you get to the finish line. So, yeah, obviously the more time is better and really, it's kind of hard to pick. But yeah, there's absolutely a lot of feedback, a lot of high quality information that you can share, especially for the athletes that are racing their first Ironman because there's so much to it or even a 70.3. But just kind of again, speaks to the value in having a coach over a longer period of time, simply because there really is a lot to learn. There's a lot to figure out, there's a lot of information to sort through, there's so many resources out there and so much of it is contradictory. So, if you go to one source for one thing, and another, you're gonna get two different messages and you may not know which to pick. But if you have that trusted expert that you know and [crosstalk] knows you and has your best interest in mind; that's highly valuable information, and highly valuable resource to have that relationship with.
Andrew: I am lowkey, terrified for my first Ironman. So, having you guys in my corner, helping me out has been super, super great. So, I can echo the benefit of a coach getting ready for that kind of an event. So, Elizabeth for athletes listening today that maybe they’re where I was early in my journey with TriDot; that place where you're not coached but you're interested in having a coach, you know, you're following training, what is maybe the best way to get going with TriDot plus a coach?
Elizabeth: For athletes that are interested in working with a coach, I would highly recommend that they reach out to Cindy on our support team. I lovingly say that Cindy is our greatest matchmaker when it comes to pairing athletes and coaches. She does such a great job of connecting with the athlete that's interested in working with a coach. And since she knows all of our coaches well, she's been able to kind of give her best recommendation of which coach or maybe two to three coaches that the athletes should interview to find what's going to be the best match for them.
Andrew: That's awesome. And John, we're going to talk more about how technology kind of relates to coaches here in just a moment. But while we're talking about getting on board with TriDot for coach who’s maybe interested in taking their business, taking their athletes, taking their journey as a coach into pairing with TriDot, how can they get involved?
John: So, I had a thought as Jeff was talking earlier, that TriDot does not replace coaches. And I was thinking as director of coaching, I'm glad for that because if we didn't have coaches, I don't think I’d have a career in professional podcasting. And I-- [crosstalk]
Andrew: We can find a place for you, you can carry the briefcase and the podcast equipment for me.
John: I'm definitely not going back to getting a real job. So, we definitely need coaches, perhaps for no other reason just to keep me employed and keep my kids, I got those kids, I gotta keep feeding. So, we're passionate about coaches. Again, we all are coaches, we love working with athletes, and we love partnering with other coaches. It's one of the things we have as a network of coaches within TriDot that we work very well together. And we love partnering with coaches and the great news is there's room for all of us, there's high demand for coaches in the space. And the great thing about technology is the bandwidth is largely unlimited. So, we have open arms for coaches. And really the ones that we partner with and have the most success with again, are those that are passionate about athletes, and really enjoy communicating and building relationships with the athletes that they work with. So, kind of the simple answer to your question is they can go to TriDot.com/Coaches and get started there. And if it's something that works out, yeah, absolutely, we'd love to have them.
Andrew: We'll see how many coached athlete matches Cindy can set up after people listen to this podcast. So, we would love to see athletes get involved, love to see coaches get involved, love to see John, Elizabeth, Jeff Raines, and all the other TriDot coaches that aren't on the podcast on a regular basis get hooked up with some athletes that they can really help improve, and help reach that finish line. So, go check that out everybody. But okay, so, now that we've covered how technology can optimize an athlete's training, kinda like I alluded to, I do want to talk more about what technology means for coaches. So, John, for coaches using maybe a more traditional coaching model, where they manually do the program design for all of their athletes. Maybe they already have some athletes that they coach, maybe they even have a branded business or a tri club that they're working with; is the modern technological approach compatible with their established setup?
John: Yeah. And as we've said, it really enhances what they do. So, the vast majority of coaches don't have their own platforms. They're already referring their athletes to another third party website to get their sessions and to do those things. So, leveraging TriDot is just another platform, it's just a different platform. And TriDot offers all the same functionality that those platforms have. So, you're really not giving up anything other than lots and lots of hours invested in writing training plans, analyzing data files, making adjustments, all that. So, really, what changes is how the time the coach spends is allocated. So, as we've said, it's reducing the amount of time, investing in data investing in writing training plans and reinvesting all that time in the athletes that they work with.
Andrew: So, Elizabeth, you never coach without TriDot, you know, you were on board as an athlete. And when you set out to establish yourself as a coach, you went all in and just doing it with TriDot. Do you feel like it was easier to get your coaching career launched with TriDot than if you had tried getting your own thing going?
Elizabeth: 100%, yes. Beginning my coaching career with TriDot provided me a built-in mentorship program. As I established myself as a coach, I could coach with confidence in the services that I was providing my athletes because I was being guided by a team of experienced coaches. I was also very intimidated by the idea of starting my own LLC or managing athlete billing services. But working directly with TriDot allowed me to focus on the athletes I was working with without these management items as well.
Andrew: I can tell you this, having just been through the level one coaching classes that USA Triathlon puts on, I mean, they were very, very helpful. They had a lot of level three, and area experts come in and present, how to coach the run, how to coach the swim, how to write training plans. And when we were on that part in particular, and they were teaching us how to write training plans, it was almost like all they could do was just introduce us to here's the 3, 4, 5, 6 different approaches that a coach can take. And from there, it's kind of up to you to decide how you want to do it. Because you're kind of without leveraging technology, you're kind of just guessing at what might be the best training plan for that day for that athlete. And I remember just sitting there and listening to those presentations just like, man, why can't anybody in this room just us TriDot? Build relationships with our athletes on the side, not worry about the training plan design. But instead, and I think so many of my peers in the class, now there were certainly some established coaches in there that have been doing it, that have their system down., and we're talking very coherently about how they designed training. But I think for most of the coaches in the room that were alongside of me, they are like you just said, Elizabeth, maybe a little intimidated by that. And maybe that's the part. They love working with the athletes, you can tell, they're knowledgeable in all the sports. But when it comes to doing that, that is an intimidating process. And if you can just partner with technology and just let that take care of that; you can just work with the athletes and build those relationships. So, I really just wanted to stand up on a soapbox in the classroom and just let all my peers know that, “There's a better way, people.”
Jeff: The more experienced coaches the fact that they were talking coherently about what to do, if they were looking at the same data in those same athletes; did they all have the same answer for what-- [crosstalk]
Andrew: They all disagreed. We literally had an assignment where we were broken up into groups of 12 to 15 of us. And at a table with 12 to 15 of us, we were given like a fake athlete. So, we had this lady she was in her 50s, she had qualified for 70.3 Worlds or no, Olympic like USAT Worlds or something like that. Yeah, USAT Nationals and so we were supposed to get her ready for USAT Nationals. And we were supposed to, as a group design a season to get her ready for that race. And we were supposed to specifically build one week of training, that was going to be a part of that build up to the race. And I mean, it was like-- everybody was cordial, everybody was nice to each other, but everybody had a different approach. And so in the end, we had 45 minutes and like in the last five minutes, we had nothing on the paper because nobody could agree on how to approach building a season for this fake athlete.
Jeff: That's so funny. I didn't think that this would kind of take this turn. But that exemplifies the benefit of using technology. If all of those coaches are great, smart people, logical reasoned thought, but they just don't know what is the cause and effect? What are those? They have a belief or something that's worked in other athletes or what they grew up learning. They’re all biased, and here you have expert coaches that have been doing this a while and can't come to the same agreement about the same limited set of facts for one athlete for one week, much less than entire season.
John: So, if it were truly the data that we're driving the training, the answer would be clear. Everyone would have the same answer. But it's not the data, it's each individual and their theory, [crosstalk] their philosophy, their education. And that's where the different opinions and different quote-unquote “answers” come from. Is it based on data or is it based on the limited input that each individual has?
Elizabeth: Yeah. I mean, I love writing training plans. I think it's fun. But as much as I enjoy that, I recognize that my experience and expertise is still limited by my personal philosophy. And the opinions that I have would be underlying factors in those training plans. So, TriDot does it more effectively.
Andrew: Elizabeth loves running marathons, so she would have everybody running so much in the training plan.
Elizabeth: Yeah. So, you know, without my personal influence, without template, without trial and error, like I can better serve athletes by not being the author of the training design.
Andrew: Yeah, so good. Well, I can say this, it's been super great just to hear that the leadership at TriDot recognizes the value of a coach. And John you were even telling me a little bit before the show about how TriDot is continuing to enhance its coaching program to make it just as easy and profitable as possible for coaches to grow their coaching business with TriDot. So, John, for any coaches listening today, can you tell us kind of where a coach can go for more information on coaching with TriDot?
John: So, yeah, but just one thing, real quick is I, my role within TriDot, I became the director of coaching five or six years ago. And one of the ambitions that I had when I started this new role was I wanted to make triathlon coaching a viable income-producing career where for somebody that wanted to be a full-time triathlon coach, that wanted to provide for their family and have a livable salary. That's what I wanted to create. And that's been a passion since then, and very proud of what we've accomplished and very excited for what lies ahead. And so that's something we continue to strive for, is to really validate and make triathlon coaching a viable career. So, we feel that we've created a model that allows coaches to thrive both in their passion and in their business. So, again, yes, we absolutely want to make it as profitable as possible. We want full-time coaches, we want the part-time coaches as well for those that do it on the side because they love it and are able to make some extra income, provide the service and the value to the athletes they work with.
Andrew: Yeah, an example there is my coach, Ryan Tibbal is full-time he's a respiratory therapist. So, he's got his full-time gig and on the side he has a dozen or so of us that he coaches. And he's a fantastic triathlon coach and has his day job as well. So, it works both ways.
John: Absolutely. So, as I said before TriDot.com/Coaches, a great place to start and get all the information they need there.
Great set everyone. Let's cool down.
Andrew: We will be doing all of you and then TriDot Podcast family a disservice if we talked so much about coaching, but did not do any coaching ourselves on this episode. So, let's end with something that we call the real quick training tip, where my coaches today will leave us all with a quick practical tip that we can immediately go apply to our training sessions. And since we have three coaches on today, let's make sure we cover all three phases of the sports; swim, bike, and run. So, Jeff, can you start us off with a real quick swim training tip?
Jeff: Absolutely. So, I think the most important thing when you're going to the pool is maintaining your mental focus, having a purpose. And it's really hard, you don't have all the sensory, you're looking at a black line on the bottom, you can't hear, you can't see very much. So, to have something in your head, you compartmentalize, push out everything that happened before, everything that's gonna happen later in your day, and you focus on a form or technique element, whatever you need to work on, and just make a commitment to have not a single sloppy stroke. And that's only attained by focusing on your stroke, every single stroke. So, your whole workout, being able to focus and keep mentally engaged. I think that's the tip I'd offer up today for swimming.
Andrew: I need a T-shirt with Jeff Booher’s face that says no sloppy strokes. Nice sky blue pool colored themed T-shirts.
John: I’d buy it.
Andrew: I'd rock that. John, can you leave us with a real quick bike training tip?
John: Yeah, I'm gonna do two. First one is quality bike fit, not necessarily bike training, but I'm a big proponent of high quality bike fits. It's there, it makes your aero is comfortable, you're going to generate more power, you're going to reduce your injury risk, get a high quality bike fit from a knowledgeable, experienced bike fitter. And then far as actual cycling, training, heels down. Oftentimes, what I see are cyclists that will have their heels kind of floating up, I call it twinkletoes. Heels down is going to engage the big muscles, whereas that heel up is going to engage the calf more of which you're going to need that later on in the race. So, oftentimes, we see athletes that are having calf cramps, and a lot of times that can be from overutilization of the calf muscles in cycling, and a lot of that comes from having that kind of diagonal foot through the pedal stroke.
Andrew: So, practical follow up question, talking about getting-- keeping your heel down; is that something we should be thinking of mindful of through the entire cycle of the stroke or is that on the kind of downswing as the foot’s going down?
John: Especially on the downstroke, that's again, I'm gonna engage those large muscles, but it should stay relatively flat. There's a natural movement up and down, but it should never get to the 45 degree angle that you'll see sometimes, especially on that downstroke.
Andrew: Coach, Elizabeth, can you close us out with a real quick run training tip?
Elizabeth: It’s gonna sound a little bit similar with being mindful. But I would say that my quick tip would be to know the purpose of your run and then stick to the intensity that matches that purpose.
Andrew: So, if it's a zone two run, keep in zone two. If you're supposed to hit some hard intervals, get your pace up to those hard intervals.
Andrew: Do the work. Be like Elizabeth. Well, that's it for today, folks. A big thanks to my trio of coaching experts; John Mayfield, Elizabeth James, and Jeff Booher for talking about finish line music, and the state of triathlon coaching in the era of artificial intelligence. Shout out to UCAN for partnering with us on today's episode. Head to GenerationUCAN.com to see what Super Starch products can power your training. Enjoying the podcast? Have any questions or topics you want to hear us talk about? Head to TriDot.com/Podcasts and click on submit feedback to let us know what you're thinking. We'll do it again soon. Until then, happy training.
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