Wednesday, June 25, 2008


If you're in the neighbourhood on Wednesday July 2nd, make plans to swing by the University of Guelph around 5:30pm for a run workout and BBQ with the Speed River Track & Field Club.  The Speed River team has invited everyone, young and old, for an open workout, followed by a community BBQ, and a chance to meet the team before they head off to Windsor for the Canadian Olympic Trials.

This will be a great opportunity for youth and junior athletes to meet Canadian Champions, National Team Members, and Olympians; excellent role models for aspiring high performance athletes.  It will also be a big boost to the Speed River crew to have as much support as possible prior to Trials. 

Details on the Guelph Running website here.

The Facebook generation can find the event details here.

Directions to Guelph, Ontario, and the University of Guelph available on the right-hand side menu of this blog.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Here's a simple transition drill to ensure athletes get their helmets on quickly and efficiently.  I stole this drill (with permission) from Kelly Guest, who runs a great youth triathlon program in Victoria, BC.  This simple game requires some skill, but may allow smaller/slower/less-experienced athletes to shine. Kelly has so many games and drill progressions that he could write a book. When I borrow drills and ideas from other coaches, I try to remember to give them credit when I use it in my program. If you like this drill, and end up using it in your program, don't forget to give a nod to Kelly when you introduce it.



- place helmets in front of athletes on ground
- straps out and untangled, hands behind back

- bend at the knees (squat), rather than at the waist
- grab the straps, and follow strap down to the buckle
- calm and controlled usually beats fast and panicked

- 1 to 3 (or more) rounds
- 1 Round = squat, pick-up helmet, stand-up, secure helmet, squat and touch ground, stand up, unfasten helmet, squat and put helmet (gently) on ground, stand up 

- Be gentle with the helmets, don't drop or damage them. Consider using a softer surface (ie. grass)
- Sometimes we use an elimination format (ie. slowest athlete is 'out'), but remember that you are essentially increasing the amount of practice reps for the most skilled athletes, and reducing the practice reps for the less skilled (or less speedy) athletes
- Reward the improvements of all athletes
- Ask the fastest athletes to share their secrets with the group
- Evaluate skill transfer to transition workouts or race execution - can they achieve this level of execution in a race environment?


You can make an endless variety of modifications to this drill: incorporating a run; making it part of a relay; setting up groups of 2-4 for small elimination rounds; parent/athlete challenges; as part of a swim set.  Your most creative variations will probably come from asking the athletes to develop modifications.  Keep changing things to continually challenge the athletes and keep it interesting - after initial skill acquisition, varying the parameters of the game and the environment will enhance skill performance. 

Special thanks to the Guelph Marlins triathletes for demonstrating this game!


If you've been reading the blog for a while, or if you follow Canadian running, you know that the University of Guelph and the Speed River Track and Field Club (aka Guelph Running), coached by Dave Scott-Thomas, is home to some of Canada's best runners. I've borrowed the following video from the Guelph Running site, explaining DST's teamwork approach to training and racing:

"Success for one guy means success for everybody....Success fuels everybody."

We aim for the same approach in our training days, training camps, and our daily programming at the PTC. We should continually work to bring together our best talent and develop a sense of team in order to get the best out of our athletes.

It's a philosophy that works.  Follow this link to watch Taylor Milne (Guelph, ON) achieve the A+ Olympic Standard in the 1500m over the weekend.  Note the silence with 250m to go - you can almost imagine the announcer rifling through the heat sheets, trying the find the name of the guy who just shattered the field. Wow.

Congrats to Guelph Running on their performances.

Monday, June 23, 2008


Sunday marked the first tris of the year for Dorelle, Ian and Alexander. Also joining them were Matt Vieurla, Joanna Brown and Lindsey Anderson. They met in Smith Falls for a 500m swim, 26k bike, and 4.7k run (aka a biker's sprint). The six of them were put in to the challenge wave with other local vets including Zone3 IronMan athletes Rick Hellard and Ryan Cain.

Dorelle led out of the swim, nearly 20 seconds ahead of Alexander and Ian, who pulled up 2,3. Matt Vierula followed closely behind, opting not to wear a wetsuit. His transition was lightning fast due to this last statement, and he rolled out of T1 ahead of Ian and Alexander (who will now be practising his transitions daily, apparently).

Matt took off on the bike, quickly catching Dorelle and gaping the rest of the field. Many strong cyclists began dropping Donald like he was standing still. His chain was rubbing intensley, but it is still no excuse for the 90 seconds Alexander had on him during this portion and the 4 ladies that passed him before T2. Ew. Maybe more than 35 total outdoor kilometres is necessary to compete.

Into T2, Ian dropped his bike and took off like a madman. He managed a 15:22, 37 seconds ahead of the 2nd fastest run. Unfortunately it wasn't enough, as Alexander held him off easily. Matt took 2nd, Alexander 6th and Ian 9th in the men's race. Dorelle and Lindsey both medalled as well, 2nd and 3rd respectively, and Joanna was 6th. 19 days 'till Gatineau.

Friday, June 20, 2008


So many races and updates, so little time.  With the season upon us, I'm having trouble posting race updates and news in anything resembling a timely fashion. To our faithful reader: send me some race updates, or better yet, start your own blog for your club or training group, and post your news.  In the meantime, I'll keep slaving away at the keyboard. But I'm not complaining; it's not like my fingers hurt, or anything. Honest.

[Note to Dear Reader: I think the He-Man reference in the last post went over your head, considering you weren't born in the 80's, let alone a child of the 80's.  I'll try to stick to stuff from your lifetime. It's really too bad, I had a great Thundercats reference waiting in the wings, but I digress.]

Off to the races.....


We've covered the elite teams already, but I'll take a minute to recognize some other results. 

Paula Findlay (AB) finished 9th in the junior womens' race, after riding on a flat for half of the bike.  The time she lost over the last 10k of the bike was equal to the difference between her 9th place finish, and 2nd place. 

Angela Quick raced in the Age Group Olympic race, and finished 4th, on only 3 weeks of training after recovering from pneumonia. 

Coach Stefan Timms picked up a bronze medal in the sprint age group race, hindered in his quest for a gold medal only by a complete lack of training in the months leading up to the event. Amazing.

Danielle Dickson finished 46th in the tough 20-24 division, and may have had the shortest, and best, race report I've seen: "My race report in short....skinny kids are not meant to swim in 11 degree water!"

Big congrats to Jen Hall (C3 Club), 4th in the 20-24 Olympic race - it's been a long road back from the challenge of chronic injuries.

There were many other familiar names racing in various events.  Congrats to everyone who braved the conditions. More results here.


While some of the worlds best triathletes were battling it out at Worlds, some of Ontario's next generation of junior triathletes were battling it out in the heat at the OFSAA Track & Field Championships.  Conditions were less than ideal, with temperatures approaching 40C (with humidex) under the blazing sun.  There were triathletes in most of the middle-distance and distance events, and I was impressed with the effort everyone put into their races.  There were some triathletes on the podium, but more importantly there was tough racing from everyone, and lots of new PB's or near-PB's.  Not surprisingly,  many of the 1500 and 3000 runners posted times faster times (5 to 15 secs faster) under cooler conditions in the weeks after OFSAA.   Full results are here.   Photo gallery here.

Chelsea Mackinnon (Westdale) Leads the pack in the 1500

Ian Donald (1204) from Nepean, in the Senior Boys 3000m at OFSAA


I couldn't write a race update without mentioning that PTC'er Tom Lokody took the overall win at the Lakeside Sprint.  More importantly, Tom was faster across the board compared to his 2007 race. Nice job TL.

The KOS races looked like tough competitions too.  Lots of familiar names from the OAT training days, and the Hamilton Hammerheads club.  Congrats to all competitors.

Results here.


I didn't get to attend the Muskoka race weekend, so I'm relying on exciting race reports like this one.  In a nutshell, the C3 club was a major factor, sweeping the mens' podium in the sprint (Andrew Yorke, Taylor Reid, Chad Ruby), and at least one podium position among the women (Rachel O'Reilly).  Special congrats to Karsten Madsen on his 4th place finish and a big time improvement over last year, and Sean Splisbury on his junior racing debut (7th overall, 4th junior).

In the Long Course race on Sunday, it sounds like the pros put on an exciting race (see link above). Congrats to Wolfgang Guembel on the overall win, and Cynthia Wilson for the women's win.  PTC'ers James Loaring and Adrian DelMonte took a crack at this one too - James flatted half way through the bike and lost some time getting it fixed, but soldiered on.  Adrian was having a great race up to ~8k in the run, where he ran into some trouble - a good learning experience at long(ish) course racing. 


There have been some strong results from the Ottawa crowd at several races.  Junior Provincial Champion Lindsay Anderson has picked up where she left off last year: winning. The Bytown Triathlon Club has also racked up impressive results in tris, and track and road races.  Junior Provincials in 3 weeks should be a great showcase of the Ontario Juniors as they mix it up with our neighbours to the east at the Gatineau Junior Series race. 

Whew, my fingers are tired. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


I'm not a huge Air Canada fan - in my experience, they aren't exactly the masters of the customer service universe - but I'll post this as a service to athletes, because Nationals is in Kelowna this year, and travel ain't cheap. Air Canada has a seat sale on until June 26th. Not to be outdone, Westjet seems to have similar pricing. Bottom Line: the cheapest flight I could get when I booked a month ago was ~$950, but you can get a ticket from Toronto to Kelowna right now for ~$700, including taxes.   Hope this helps.

"Exits are located at the front and rear of the plane, and if anyone gets up
 before the captain turns off the seat belt light you'll get the business 
end of my axe."


Fair warning, put on some sunglasses before visiting this blog: Fun2TriClub

This is a triathlon program for 8-15 year olds, run by NCCP Certified Competition Coach Lorri Zagar, in Caledon, Ontario.  They meet once a week for bike & run training, and all (or almost all) of the athletes are in a competitive swim program. 

Lorri made a great presentation back in April at our Coach Seminar day, detailing her program and her approach to youth development.  Lorri started this program last year (Spring 2007), and she did a great job of mixing skill development, personal responsibility, teamwork and fun. She has been the victim of her own success this year; parents signed up so many athletes that they had to split the group over two nights, and both sessions are maxed out.   Like most coaches, Lorri juggles coaching and race support with a full time career and parenting duties, but she makes it look easy.

It's great to see programs like this develop and thrive. I've lost count of the number of adults who said they wished they had programs like this when they were starting out in triathlon. We have a lot of quality coaches in Ontario, and this sort of approach could work almost anywhere. Coaches: If you've been thinking about something like this, stop thinking about it, and start doing it. It's hard work, but it's very rewarding.  Coaches like Lorri would be more than happy to have you come to a practice or two to pick up some new ideas. 

Best of luck to the Fun2TriClub this season.  We'll be looking for those pink shirts at the races!

(Message for Myles: I haven't fallen out of the kayak yet)



By Wayne Goldsmith

You read right - improve your coaching by NOT coaching.

Coaching improves performance. But too much coaching - over coaching - can have a negative influence on performance. Who OVER coaches?

Typically five types of coaches OVER coach:

  • Young, inexperienced coaches who are trying too hard;
  • Coaches who lack real belief in themselves and who try to make up for it by giving too much information. These coaches will often want to be liked - and feel the more coaching they do, the more the athletes will like them;
  • Coaches who lack belief in their athletes and feel the need to control every element of preparation and performance;
  • Coaches who are being evaluated or assessed and aim to impress by being SEEN to control every element of the training session, i.e. they believe that great coaching is talking more;
  • EGO driven coaches who see athletes / players as a vehicle to promote themselves and their reputations.

Full post here.


By: Michael Donaldson
Sunday Star Times (NZ)
June 15, 2008

There are clearly two leading men in world triathlon: Javier Gomez, of Spain, and Kiwi Bevan Docherty. And the gold medal question is: which of them is going to get his preparation spot-on for the Beijing Olympics?

Gomez, who easily beat Docherty into second place at last week's world championships in Vancouver, hasn't lost a world cup race this year, having won four from four. And he's unbeaten in five starts, has won seven of his past eight and has not finished further back than third in any race since the start of 2007.

Full article.

Monday, June 16, 2008


All aboard! There's room for a few more.

We've had a week to digest the Worlds results, and see the Olympic Team named. With the advent of athlete blogs over the past few years, we've been able to follow the preparation of our top elites (and an army of age-groupers) to an unprecedented degree. I can attest to the fact that the next generation of Canadian triathletes are avid consumers of the triathlete blogosphere - they are the first group of developing triathletes to have such incredible access to such incredible role models.

With access comes criticism however, and we've seen a lot of that in the last week too. It seems to have calmed down, but from my comfy armchair, well removed from the fray, it looked like a vocal minority fueled the chatter about the selection process. I know there are many more people out there who admire and support these athletes, and can't wait to cheer them on in Beijing. If that describes you, get on the bus, visit their websites, and leave a comment to let them know you're behind them. These athletes are fantastic role models and ambassadors, and the embodiment of hard work and dedication. A simple vote of confidence or a quick comment of encouragement goes a long way, and a positive training environment always brings out the best in athletes. You can find the websites of the 2008 Beijing Team at the following links:

On a similar note, I wanted to recognize the incredible character of the athletes who didn't make the team. In a world where international calibre athletes in some sports are paid like movie stars (and behave accordingly), the conduct and dedication of these athletes should be recognized:

Kirsten Sweetland: Kirsten was interviewed literally 10 seconds after crossing the finish line, in obvious pain and clearly disappointed with the race. She had every opportunity to talk about her broken foot, or the cold conditions, or a host of other things that kept her from delivering the performance she was capable of. Holding back tears, she simply said "I gave myself every opportunity to come top 8" and left it at that. Amazing.

Brent McMahon: Brent raced near the front all day, and poured his heart out on the run, producing his best ever finish at worlds (17th), only 0:28" behind the top 8 finish he was looking for. The 2004 Olympian was clearly disappointed with not making the Beijing team, but still made sure to congratulate and support the selected athletes in post-race press.

Kyle Jones: Kyle's race seemed to unravel in the swim, when he lost his neoprene swim cap, and suffered in the cold water. He was still in contention out of the swim, but was so cold he needed help unzipping his wetsuit, and watched his chances of Olympic selection evaporate as he struggled in T1. Coming off the bike 5 minutes down on the leaders, he could have packed it in, but he pounded out a solid run anyways, and took the time to write the following on his blog:

"I have many more World Cup races this year and I will continue to strive for the podium.

For any juniors, U23s, or other aspiring Canadian Olympians out there…please don’t get discouraged about this decision. I have no idea what the qualification criteria will be in four years time but whatever it is, just do it. Train hard, train smart, and go after whatever they throw at us! Let’s make sure no spots are left to discretion."

Congrats to all athletes, and best of luck this season.

All aboard. Next stop, Beijing. 

Friday, June 13, 2008


Triathlon Canada has announced the Women's Team for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games: Lauren Groves, Carolyn Murray, and Kathy Tremblay. Congrats to all athletes and their coaches.


If you're not racing this weekend, it's still a big weekend for biking and running.

If you head down to Port Dover, you can join the Friday the 13th ride.

If you're in Cambridge on Saturday, be sure to check out the Mercedes-Benz Mile.


With all of the serious discussion and post-worlds analysis going on, it's a good time to lighten things up a bit. To that end, I humbly submit "How not to do a transition", from a short little transition skills set we did a few weeks ago. There's nowhere to go but up....

(shaky camera work due to laughter)

Hemet Tips:
1. Don't drop your helmet on the ground, you'll damage it
2. Your helmet should be left at your transition area, not in the middle of the road
3. There is no evidence that aero helmets help run performance

Monday, June 9, 2008


A quick update (the 100th post!) before I head off to the lake for a workout. Triathlon Canada announced the Men's Olympic Team this morning. Congrats to Simon Whitfield, Paul Tichelaar and Colin Jenkins on their selection.

It sounds like the High Performance Committee has decided to take a little more time to consider who will join Lauren Groves on the Women's team.

I'll post further updates over the next few days as we catch up on all of the action at Worlds, OFSAA Track & Field, and the Ontario triathlon scene.

Friday, June 6, 2008


While the folks at Worlds in Vancouver battle the cold, we've been hit with our first heat wave of ~40 degree weather. Some pics of the run workout today with ADM and JL in the midday heat.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


Canada's Juniors are first up to the start line tomorrow, with the women at 7am, and the men at 9am (Pacific Daylight Time). ITU preview here. There's no mention of live coverage, but results should be up shortly after the race. Best of luck to Team Canada - racing on home turf should provide them with an extra boost, and we have a strong team.

Back in Ontario, the PTC now has a kayak - essential for open water workouts. Our new 12ft "Clearwater Muskoka" was on Guelph Lake this morning. It's a nice little kayak, but not as stable as the larger 14ft Necky Kayaks used in Victoria. We're taking bets on what will happen first: CT falls out of kayak (it almost happened twice this morning), or Tom swims in to kayak (he swam headlong into a buoy this morning). Leave your vote in the comments.

Go Canada!

EDIT: It looks like a live feed will be available here.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


If you were watching CBC's coverage of Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals last night, you might have missed this story. (Un)fortunately, I was watching the NBC feed, and saw Pierre McGuire report that Petr Sykora had just predicted he would score the winning goal. He called his shot part way through the 2nd overtime - a pretty confident prediction from a struggling player on the verge of elimination. But he delivered in the 3rd OT, keeping the Pens' hopes alive.

You gotta love the athletes who want the ball/puck/opportunity in pressure situations. True competitors.

Full article here.

On a related note, maybe Detroit should lose it's designation as 'Hockeytown'. The Detroit Free Press reported that Todd Gill, who retired in 2003, was on the ice last night:

"• That was pretty scary when the Penguins' Ryan Malone took a Todd Gill slap shot in the face and left the ice with his nose spewing blood. Hey, that's network TV. CBS has Kimbo Slice for blood, NBC counters with hockey."

Sunday, June 1, 2008


TriSport's Milton Tri historically signals the start of the triathlon season in Ontario, and the race yesterday was no exception. Between the try-a-tri, duathlon and sprint tri, there were over 1000 people racing. TriSport is an impressive logistics company - they make herding cats look easy. For those 2 or 3 people who weren't there, here's a quick summary:

Weather was overcast, 15-18 degrees, and windy; perfect for racing.

Sean Bechtel (C3 Club) led the race wire to wire - he was out of the water with a ~40sec lead, rode his bike like he stole it, and held his 3 min. lead over 2nd with a good run. Wolfgang Guembel (2nd) and Andrew Yorke (3rd) also had strong performances - outclassing the rest of the race to the tune of ~4 mins.

In the women's race, Cythia Wilson took the win, with Nicole Guembel outpacing Sheri Fraser by 5 sec for 2nd. Great race by Sheri.

Overall, it looks like the times were a bit slower than last year. The swims and bikes were slower than last year with some exceptions. I didn't get to see the swim, but the wind was likely an issue on the bike. The runs were faster than last year, likely due to the higher temps for the 2007 race.

PTC'ers raced well. Angela Quick put in a good effort in the try-a-tri, in preparation for her race at Worlds next weekend (U19 Olympic). Angela's little brother Derek (coached by Dan McKerral) also used the try-a-tri as a warm-up for Worlds, leading wire-to-wire. In the sprint race, Adrian DelMonte was 8th overall - a pretty good race as he knocks off some of the rust.

Two unfortunate DNF's at the race: Karsten flatted leaving the park, and I saw David Clinkard walking/limping back from the run course. Karsten will be racing again soon, and David will be leading the Canadian Men at the FISU World Triathlon Championships later this month in Erdek, Turkey.

(Edit: results here.)

A big tip of the cap goes to the volunteers - without them, racing would be almost impossible. There were a lot of parents out there donating their time - Cynthia and Frank VanBeurden (parents to Nicole and Chris) and Katherine Madsen (son Karsten and husband Ken were racing) were officiating, along with Colin Jenkin's parents, Pete and June. Talk about a great deal; along with fast athletes, we recruit volunteers at the same time. A big thanks to Tammy Lyle-Gravlev too - she didn't have any family racing, but she drove over from Ajax just to volunteer. Have a look at Tammy's site to see how you can support someone who selflessly supports our sport.

I took a few pics during the race, which you can find here. I think it's safe to say that I don't have a future in photography (see below where I cut off Tyler Lord's head - sorry Tyler), but if anyone wants a copy, feel free to download.

Congrats to the athletes on their performances.