Monday, December 26, 2011

The Spinervals SUPER 6! It's Awesome, It's FREE, It starts JAN. 2, '12!!

Welcome to The Spinervals Super 6.  Why is it called the Super 6? Because by following this training regimen over the next 6 weeks you’ll discover a new level of fitness and be on your way to achieving all of your personal fitness goals and objectives in 2012.   6 DAYS A WEEK FOR 6 WEEKS = RESULTS! 

Workouts will be posted daily on the Spinervals Facebook page and target the needs of the triathlete, cyclist and general fitness enthusiast including suggestions for bike workouts, running workouts and cross-training sessions for strength and flexibility development.   PLEASE NOTE: THIS WORKOUT REGIMEN IS NOT DESIGNED FOR BEGINNERS. YOU NEED A SOLID BASE OF FITNESS PRIOR TO STARTING THE PROGRAM. 

The plan is designed to include from 1-2 hours of training during the weekdays, a long weekend workout and a day off, totaling 11-15 hours of training per week.  There are also a few ‘wildcard’ days and workouts where you can add some variety to the schedule, or even take an extra day off if needed.  You’ll do some benchmark testing near the beginning and again at the end of the program in order to measure your progress. The overall flavor of this 6-week block of training is aerobic base and technique development, with a weekly dose of interval or tempo work... to keep it real! 

AS WITH ANY TRAINING PROGRAM, IT’S IMPORTANT TO MONITOR YOURSELF AND LISTEN TO YOUR BODY.  Go easy or take an additional day off as needed. Stay healthy and injury free.

Triathletes will notice that there are 3-4 days of aerobic foundation run workouts planned each week.  Some more experienced triathletes may wish to add another run each week to the plan or boost volume and/or intensity.  Non-runners are asked to substitute other means of low impact cardio training (i.e. elliptical machine, rower, stair-climber, etc.) in place of running.  And who knows… maybe this will encourage some athletes to add running to their fitness routine and try a tri! (Sorry, swim training was not included in this plan. We have lots of event specific training plans available for triathletes, including Ironman plans. Go HERE,, To learn more.)

We’ll be using heart rate and/or power to focus on various energy systems, so familiarize yourself with our training zones found HERE (  It’s up to you to choose your daily sessions (or do them all!) to suit your particular athletic needs and goals.  You can receive the added benefits of having workouts delivered daily to your inbox and to log your training progress by registering for a FREE Training Peaks account attached to me as your coach.  Click the following link or paste it to your browser in order to download the plan to your trainingpeaks calendar, starting Mon. Jan 2, 2012:
(Note: If you already have a trainingpeaks account, you can purchase the plan for FREE and then apply it to your calendar. Contact TrainingPeaks customer support if you have any technical website related questions.)

Each day, you’ll train according to the workout plan.  And to keep it fun while being accountable to your plan and the other athletes from around the world joining you, you’re encouraged to log your workout comments each day on the Spinervals Facebook Page.  There’s nothing like sharing your results and accomplishments in public to keep you honest and on track!

And since research has proven that people who attach themselves to social groups and events tend to ‘stick’ with things longer and enjoy the experience more, I encourage you to get at least 3 of your close friends to join you in doing the program. Sure, it’ll be challenging at times … and that’s when you might need some camaraderie in order to get the workouts done.  After all, misery loves company!  So, enlist 3 friends to join you by forwarding them this information. Who knows, it might just help them change their lives for the better!

Here’s a list of the recommended workouts videos in my training series for this 6-week phase of training.  Daily optional workouts are recommended for your convenience, in case you don’t have the recommended title. (Members of receive a 20% Discount on all DVD purchases. Go HERE , ,  to learn more and save some dough.)

Spinervals Competition Series: (Catalog link HERE,
5, 16, 17, 18, 21, 23, 26, 27, 28,  30, 31, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39
Strendurance 12-Week Progression (
Flexible Warrior Athletic Yoga - Volumes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 (

At the end of the Super 6 Program, you’ll find that your overall fitness level is rockin’ and you’ll be ready to attack a more specific “pre-competition” phase of your training progression as the indoor training season starts to come to a close.  Oh, and be on the lookout for a continuation of the Super 6!! 

Good luck and get on it!
- Coach Troy

P.S. If you are a participant in the 32-Day Challenge, you need to consider taking a day or two OFF after the last workout in the challenge to regroup and get ready for the Super 6 phase of training.  I would suggest 48-72 hours of 'easy exercise' for most athletes prior to jumping back into a new regimen. Good luck!!

Disclaimer: This and all training programs can be dangerous to your health if you are inadequately prepared to do them.  See your doctor and get his approval prior to starting this training regimen. By participating in this plan, you do so at your own risk and release Troy Jacobson and affiliated companies and persons from liability.  

Monday, December 5, 2011

What Is...The IRONMAN Athlete's "Off-Season"??

"Off Season". What in the world does that mean anymore for an Ironman triathlete? Is there such a thing as an "off-season" nowadays... or does one phase of your training blend into the next so it seems like there is just one continuous in-season?  Confusing, right? Well, I'm going to confuse you a little more as well as hopefully give you some clarity at the same time.

First, I believe in having an off-season of some variety.  We're not machines, even though many triathletes think they are.  Exercise is stressful on the body. In fact, one of my favorite definitions of exercise is that it is "controlled injury".  Exercise for Ironman competition and you're injuring the crap out of yourself each and every day per that definition! And if you continue to do it week after week year-round, you'll traumatize your tissues to the extent that they'll break down and you WILL get hurt.  From the perspective of avoiding classic overuse injury alone, you need a break... but there's more to it than that.

Next, let's talk performance.  Wouldn't it be nice to be in Ironman shape year-round? You know what I mean... the kind of conditioning where you can bike 100 miles as if it's like rolling down the boardwalk on your cruiser on a summer day or run 20 miles as if it's like a walk in the park.  The more you train, the better you feel.  You're tan, shaved down, focused, lean and vascular and you can eat practically everything you want.  And you know you're in GREAT IM shape when your mom tells you that you're too lean and wants to feed you sandwiches and ice cream. Being in Ironman shape is a special kind of "drug", but if we truly want to improve year after year, we need to get off of that "Ironman High" for awhile every year and allow the body (and mind) to rest in order to take fitness to the next level.  If not... we overtrain and hit that dreaded plateau.

The Iron plateau.  Train smart for Ironman racing for anywhere from 3-5 years, complete around 5 Ironman events and you'll see what I'm referring to.  The first 2-3 races you do, lopping off 5-10% on your overall time is not uncommon as your body adapts rapidly to your training and you begin to near your genetic potential. Around the 5th Ironman, many people will start to see where they 'live' in the field and improvements come in very small, incremental gains...if at all sometimes.  If you try to stay Ironman-fit year round, you'll hit that plateau faster and find it more difficult to break through.  Remember... if you keep doing what you're doing, you'll keep getting the same result.

So, do you need an off-season?  Well, yes... but some of you need a longer off-season than others do... and it all depends on your goals, your training experience and your time spent training.  We are all an experiment of one and respond differently to training.   Let's take look at two "typical" Ironman triathletes as case studies:

Athlete "A":  This athlete is fairly typical as an age grouper in that they are in in the 35-45 yr. old range and have been doing triathlons for 2-4 years. They train around 8-10 hours per week most of the time, practicing each sport anywhere from 2-3 times per week. During the build-up weeks to Ironman, they'll boost training volume to 15-18 hrs per week with the bulk of their workload happening during longer workouts on the weekends. Weekdays include work and other family activities, so they tend to have 1-2 hours / day, split between early morning sessions and perhaps one at lunch or one after work. One day off a week is dedicated to recovery and getting other stuff done.

Athlete "B":  This athlete is either a younger athlete or is someone 35+ who makes training and triathlon a life priority and carves out 15 - 25 hours a week to train, year-round.  Some peak weeks even approach the "Pro Level" of  30+ hours in a week.  Lots of time and energy is spent on training and recovery to eek every last bit of performance out of their bodies.  Triathlon consumes most, if not all, of their spare time.

Do you 'fit', even remotely, into either group??  

Athlete 'A' , in my philosophy, should have a very short off-season if they wish to see improvement next season.  After their last key race of the season, a short break of a couple weeks should transition back into a focused regimen of technique work and base building because fitness (due to age and lack of 'base'/miles in the legs) is lost quickly and is hard to get back.   Since overall training volumes are fairly low week after week, they need to get their workloads up in that 8-10 hrs / week range soon after their 'break' and resume building fitness as they head into the new season.  Furthermore, more intense training should be included in their program to make up for a lack of overall volume.  (* See below for another consideration.)  Consistency, with daily training in small doses, is key.

Athlete 'B' is facing a different regimen.  They are likely nearing their performance potential with the huge workloads they do, so simply pounding themselves with more volume during the off-season is counter productive as they risk overtraining, injury and plateauing. After their last big race and a break of 4-8 weeks to decompress, in which they remain in good shape with low volume sport specific training and other random "fun" activities (i.e. 'exercising', not 'training'), they need to gradually ramp workloads back up, rebuild aerobic base, focus on technique, flexibility and strength development and then, after 6-10 weeks, resume their higher volume focus for aerobic endurance development.

So, in the "old days" it was not uncommon to see athletes completely hang up their bike and their running shoes during the off-season, relax like kings and queens and gain 5-15 lbs. (been there, done that!).  Nowadays, especially for the Age group Ironman athlete over the age of 35, it's more important than ever to focus on staying fit (not Ironman fit!) during the off-season but while changing focus slightly to working on weaknesses, technique, flexibility training and strength development.   It'll be good for your head, and your body.

Train smart this winter and decompress from your long season of training and racing with a short break. If you fit the profile of athlete A, get back on the horse sooner than later... and if you fit the profile of athlete B, rest a little more so as to take a step up to the next level.  If you need any help in determining your off-season training needs, shoot me an email or a message on my Spinervals Facebook page and I'll be happy to offer you some ideas.

Best wishes,

- Coach Troy
Official Coach of IRONMAN
Head Tri Coach for LIFE TIME FITNESS,

* TIP:  I have found that a single sport focus during the off-season can pay dividends long after a more balanced approach to multisport training is resumed.  Using the bike for example, try a 4-6 week block of focused bike training including plenty of threshold and power based training, combined with aerobic base and aerobic endurance work.  Afterwards, allow for 1-2 weeks of transitioning to a more balanced swim/bike/run approach and you might be amazed at how much stronger you are on the bike for the rest of the season!  If you're interested in being your own guinea pig and giving it a shot, join over 500 athletes doing the free Spinervals 32 Day Challenge.  

Follow Troy on TWITTER and on FACEBOOK

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Spinervals Challenge Update #4 | Testing Day

Anyone need some videos for the Challenge? I've got a box or two sitting around the house. :)

Hey, day one is over for many and the Threshold test is now history. Tough? Still want to do this? Still have me on your Christmas list?  I bet it was hard, especially if you have not done any threshold intensity training lately.  Use it or lose it, as the old saying goes.  And now that you're starting to use it again, let's build on that momentum!

Tomorrow's workout is an old favorite, Spinervals 16.0 - Aero Base I. This zone 2 (aerobic intensity) workout should be comfortable while burning some calories and building your aerobic energy system. It's a good 'recovery' workout to the high intensity test you took today! Remember to stay in that aerobic base zone, which for many the upper ceiling is about 10% below the average HR you posted for your 20 min. Test (i.e. Avg. HR of 150 bpm means the upper limit to your zone 2 is around 135 bpm).  It's comfortable and sustainable for long periods of time.

We have some great blog posts going too!  See how your fellow Spinervals Challengers are doing! Here's one from Michelle  and one from Jeff.  And of course, here's a video from our friend in Australia, JR, (Click HERE), as he does his test.  Also, great job to everyone who is posting their results and encouraging words on our FB page, like Brigitta, Len, Tim, James, Sheryl, Roger, Shane, Alan, Gina, Ken and Christine, to name a few.  Please continue to actively participate as it keeps everyone accountable to do better.  Overall, awesome work... only 30 more days to go. ;-)

Get these workouts done... one day at a time.  Let's achieve the goal of completing the Challenge! You can do it!

Train well,
Coach Troy

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Behind The [Ironman] Scenes With Coach Troy

Ironman Arizona was fun to watch and be part of again as the official coaching partner of IRONMAN. Congrats to everyone who accomplished their Ironman goals in 2011!

Check it out as I discuss getting started in the sport -- and why I love coaching -- in this short video clip by IronmanLive:

What are your big race goals for 2012?  Lock it down and start getting ready!

Happy Holidays!
Coach Troy

p.s. If you're not already taking the Spinervals 32 Day Challenge , you should be!

Spinervals Challenge Update #3 | The Plan & Videos Needed!

The Challenge is about to begin!! How many people are doing it, you ask? Well, it's hard to say exactly... but over 300 people have registered for a new training peaks account in order to receive their workouts daily and log their progress! Folks from here in Tucson AZ to as far away as Australia are getting ready for it. So let's GO!!

First, the month long program is now "fully baked" and is ready for public consumption.  At first, it was going to be a gut wrenching plan that would be almost impossible for anyone but a professional cyclist to complete... and even they would have a hard time.  But after further consideration and knowing that a wide range of athlete would be participating, including Ironman competitors and fitness oriented indoor cyclists, I decided to tone it down... but only a little.

One thing to know right up front is that this is **NOT AN AEROBIC BASE BUILDING PLAN**. If you are following a well-defined, traditional progression of base and endurance training this winter, this won't fit well into that regimen.  However, if you want to develop some power and boost your lactate threshold heart rate and VO2max while being motivated and training 'virtually' with others .... it'll work great.  Furthermore, I believe that many athletes who are stuck in the 'rut' of following a typical progression might find this month of training a way to shock the system into another level of adaptation.  Even for some of my personally coached athletes, I'm suggesting that they take the challenge with some minor modifications.

Another question I receive a lot is from triathletes is how to incorporate swim and run training into this cycling intensive month.  Since the month is focused on the bike, I recommend that triathletes back down on their swim and run training (especially running) and allow for the cycling work to take priority.  I've been witness many times to the benefits a block of cycle focused training can have on a triathlete's overall performance, so if you've never tried it, give it a shot.  As for running volume, I suggest only running 2-3 times per week during the challenge if you're a competitive triathlete as this will maintain your running form.

With regard to the structure of the plan, I attempted to make it difficult but still effective for the athletes participating.  Again, it would have been easy to bury you by doing "Tough Love" and "Dropping the Hammer" everyday, but that's not the purpose and would be irresponsible for me as to do as a professional coach. I want you to benefit from the plan and come out the other end on Jan. 2 with a higher level of fitness, injury free and excited about the 2012 season.  Therefore, I have incorporated somewhat of a hard/easy approach (i.e. aerobic base workouts or technique sessions then quality work), as well as some off and/or easy days for recovery.  I also included your "Wild Card" day in which you can take the day off and REST or do something else at your discretion and still qualify to be a Challenge Finisher. See, I'm nice. :)  Finally, up to 20% of the workouts can be done on the roads instead of the trainer... again giving you a mental break if needed.  Just TRY to do the workouts per the plan and monitor yourself for signs of overtraining or injury... it's up to you to train smart!  If you want to receive training guidance and advice specific to you, please consider personal coaching. 

So, what does the Challenge look like?  The best way to receive it is to register for the free trainingpeaks account, with which you'll be able to track your progress and receive detailed workouts to your inbox everyday. For those athletes who choose not to use this online coaching tool, I'll be posting workouts a few days in advance to my BLOG and FB.

Getting Started .... Here's what's in store for Dec. 1 through Dec. 4:

Thursday Dec. 1 - Spinervals 27.0 - Threshold Test (60 min.)
WELCOME TO THE CHALLENGE! Get ready for a demanding yet rewarding 32 days of pain and suffering! ;) Just kidding!! Today we'll be testing your threshold with Spinervals 27.0 - Threshold Test & Sufferfest ( to establish your zones. Use your powermeter or heart rate monitor to get a good idea of where your fitness stands at the moment and for later comparison to see your progress!

The alternative (optional) workout is to do the following on the road or trainer:
w/up 15-20 minutes
5x45 sec. pick ups @ 1 min. recovery
Spin 5-10 minutes
20 min. Time Trial Effort (best effort) while tracking your power and/or HR throughout.
Cooldown for 20-30 minutes
Use the data to calculate your training zones! There's a power meter calculation tool on this page,

Pre Activity Comments
Today is weigh-in day.  Please record your results. Also, start building your Spinervals DVD collection to match the intensity and scope of the workouts described throughout this program. Remember that we offer discounted bundles as well as discounts to our members of 20%. Learn more about becoming a member by going to

Post Activity Comments
Remember... training is only part of the performance equation. Also focus on eating a nutritious diet and proper recovery. Day to day training will gradually wear you down if you're not careful! We have lots of articles on our websites , and, as well as our blog, on this and other topics. Have a great day and post your results, send your pics and videos to the Spinervals FB page!

Fri. Dec. 2 - Spinervals 16.0 - Aero Base Builder 1 (1 hr 20 min.)

This aerobic base workout ( is to be done in zone 2 and is an 'easy' workout after the tough one yesterday where you cranked out 20 minues at LT! Remember to stay disciplined and in that lower intensity zone, and with your cadence range as described in the workout.

The alternative is any of the other Aero Base builder workouts in the series (17.0, 18.0, 21.0, 28.0. 39.0), or 1.5 - 2 hrs of aerobic training (90-100 rpms) on the roads.

Post Activity Comments
Tomorrow, we'll be adding some strength training to your plan. Get ready. If you don't already have Strendurance, you might want to get a copy of it! another strength training routine of your choice. Stay strong!

Sat. Dec. 3 - Spinervals 30.0 - Muscular Endurance PLUS (2 hrs 20 minutes). 

Legs tired yet? heh heh heh  (
This workout targets the development of your muscular endurance, zone 3. Your calorie burn will be high too. Make sure you have lots of fluids and nutrition for this 2+ hr workout. The alternative to this is about 3 hrs on the roads... at a steady moderate pace or other spinervals titles like: 9.0, 13.0, 15.0, 31.0

Strength Training

Strendurance is a great 12 week progression for strength development. Try it here,

Here's an alternative workout, short and fast, that you can do via,

Athletic Yoga is also recommended if you prefer it for strength development. Here are some great options for you to consider by Flexible Warrior,

Sun. Dec. 4 - Spinervals 28.0 - Aero Base Builder (1 hr)

Another zone 2 workout to act as recovery for yesterday's tough session!
Add an additional 15-30 minutes of easy pedaling if you'd like to hit that 90 min. range. An alternative is to do Spinervals 17, 18.0 or 28.0. If you hit the roads, ride aerobic (zone 2) for 75-90 minutes, 90-100 rpms. (Add another 30 minutes of aerobic spinning for extra credit to boost the calorie burn!)

For your future planning needs, here's a list of workouts to be used in the plan. Alternative workouts are also suggested each day that match the basic intensity and duration requirements for that day.

1.0- No Slackers Allowed
8.0- Recovery and Technique
11.0- Bending Crank Arms
12.0- Recharge
13.0- Tough Love
16.0- Aero Base 1
17.0- Aero Base 2
18.0- Aero Base 3
19.0- Bending Crank Arms
22.0- Time Trialapalooza
23.0- Time Saver 1
24.0- HILLacious
25.0- Aero Base Compilation
26.0- Hardcore 100
27.0- Threshold Test
28.0- Aero Base Builder VI
30.0- Muscular Endurance  PLUS
31.0- Endurance Booster
33.0- The Pain Cave
34.0- Super High Intensity Training
36.0- Warrior Training
39.0- Aerobic Base at 10,000 Ft.
40.0- Have Mercy, Part III
41.0- Ascending Mountains
Team Sports Training Volume 1- No Limits
On the Road Vol. 2 - Lake Placid Ride
On the Road Vol. 6 - Tempe Training Ride
Strendurance 12-Week Progression
Flexible Warrior - Athletic Yoga

Workouts can be found HERE. And don't forget that you can become a member, receive 3 DVDs and get 20% on your future DVD purchases as well as discounts to other coaching services and camps by clicking HERE.  It's the most cost effective way to go!

That's all for now. Check back frequently to Facebook and this BLOG for more updates. And if you've registered to receive workouts through a trainingpeaks account, look for your workouts to be loaded to your calendar sometime today!

Good luck everyone ... let's get this thing going!

- Coach Troy

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Spinervals Challenge | IMPORTANT UPDATES!

The Spinervals 32-Day Challenge is fast approaching and it's amazing how many people are signing up to take it from across the globe!

Here are some quick updates as the Challenge 'evolves'.

1. I have factored in a few 'mandatory' rest days into the plan. Why? Because I know how stubborn endurance athletes can be and ignore obvious signs of overtraining.  The challenge includes a TON of high intensity workouts mixed with lower intensity sessions to offer some balance.... but the inexperienced rider risks getting overloaded.  BE AWARE and MONITOR YOURSELF!

2. Wild Card REST DAYS:  In addition to the few mandatory rest days, you can include ONE additional WILD CARD rest day to take on your own accord if your energy level or your schedule requires and still be eligible to be a Challenge finisher.

3. Daily workouts include:
Name of Spinervals Video Title.
Duration of the Workout
Intensity Focus of the Workout

For Example:
Thursday, Dec. 22
Spinervals 1.0 - No Slackers Allowed (High Intensity Intervals)
45 minutes
Approx. 15 miles Total Miles

If you don't have the video that is recommended, you can substitute a similar session (or make one up on your own) that fits the basic description of the workout. Of course, it would be better to simply do the workout prescribed each and every day!  

If you've registered for a free trainingpeaks account by clicking HERE, the challenge plan will be loaded to your calendar and you'll be able to log your training progress and results each day!

Here's a list of workouts required for the first 10 days of the program. A few of these titles are now available for LEGAL (licensed for your personal use) download HERE.  Otherwise, you can order them on DVD from

Spinervals Competition Series:  16.0, 27.0, 30.0, 18.0, 11.0, 17.0, 8.0, 22.0, 31.0, 
OPTIONAL:  Strendurance 12-Week Plan and Flexible Warrior 

The exact workout each day will be posted to Facebook, as well as appear on your trainingpeaks calendar (and sent to your inbox, if you choose that option).

I hope you are getting ready! This is very exciting and I'm looking forward to all of you reaching your fitness goals over the month of December with the program!

Train well,

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

2011 Spinervals Challenge! | U Have What it Takes?

C'mon everyone... take the Spinervals Challenge with me! 
This is cool.  The 2011: 32 Days of Spinervals Challenge!! YEAH!! If you are looking for a great  challenge this holiday season to keep your mind sharp, your legs powerful and your mid-section solid, read on.

How did this idea come about you ask? Well, I wish I could take full credit for it but the genesis of the concept came from an avid Spinervals user who did 30 consecutive days of Spinervals, starting with 1.0 and going through 30.0.  I thought it was a little nuts, but after further consideration, realized it was a great idea.  In fact, this athlete said he experienced incredible gains in fitness (and loss of fat) over the 30 day period... and why not! While there's no "rhyme or reason" to the order of the workouts if done in that manner, the reality is that the random combination of hard interval days, aerobic days, technique days and endurance days really do make for a well-designed training program.  Cool!

So, the 32 Days of Spinervals Challenge leverages that same idea but will be a bit more refined.  The challenge will be HUGE however, as I KNOW how much all fans of Spinervals like to suffer (wink wink). After all, if I make it easy than anyone could do it.... I want to make it a true test of your physical and mental endurance and toughness and for those who complete the program to be in a select group.  Best of all, if you manage to get through the 32 days as intended (or even some of it, for that matter!), I believe you'll see tremendous improvement!! Keep in mind however that you'll need to 'dig deep' at times to force yourself through some of the harder sessions and the wearing down effect of training day after day.... after day. Hmmm.... it's starting to remind me of Ironman, Leadman or other Ultra race events.  LIKE!;)

Here's how it works.  Starting on Dec. 1, 2011 and finishing on January 1, 2012, you'll do a Spinervals Workout each and everyday (or a similar road session) according to my plan I post to our Facebook page or load onto Training Peaks, on which you have the option to register for a free account.  Knowing that everyone won't have every video title recommended for the program, although you can buy them, I've included some variation with the workouts... but not much.  Each day, participants in this event need to let us know that they finished the day's workout on our Facebook page.  This will keep you honest (no cheating please!) and accountable to your team members.  You'll get some positive feedback and motivation from me and other Challenge participants too (NO SLACKERS ALLOWED!).   Furthermore, since the program will be loaded to Training Peaks, you'll be able to log and track your results each and every day, as well as receive workout reminders from me in your email in-box every night.  We'll essentially be training as a team and pushing each other day after day to get the workouts done with 100% compliance all the way through to the finish line... NO ONE QUITS ONCE YOU GET STARTED!

Those people who complete the entire challenge get rewarded in a few different ways. First of all, the fitness gains will be amazing and you'll LOVE how you look and feel!   While your friends are gaining weight over the holiday, you'll be leaning down and increasing your power, VO2max and overall endurance.  Next, finishers will receive a free 6-month Spinervals Team membership, good for discounts on our products, camps, training services ,etc.  Also, your name will be listed on our website as an OFFICIAL FINISHER of the 2011 Spinervals Challenge!  And finally, you'll have the bragging rights to say that you completed the inaugural Spinervals Challenge (remember those first crazies who did the very first Ironman??). All good stuff for simply training your butt off and getting into the best shape in your life, eh?!

Here are the general rules and regulations.  Again, we're working on the honor system, so it's my hope that everyone is honest with themselves and with everyone else. No one likes a cheater who only cheats themselves! If you miss a workout, fess up... admit it and move on with the plan, ok?

Rules and other misc. thoughts:
1. You must do every workout listed in it's entirety to be considered an Official Finisher. Varying the intensity at times is fine, but you must do the intended duration per session. (i.e. A 1 hr 30 minute session means you're riding for 90 minutes, period!).

2. You can substitute up to 20% of the indoor training rides with outdoor rides and still qualify to be an Official Finisher.  I know that a sunny, crisp 55 deg. December day in the Northeast or upper Midwest makes it impossible to sit on that dang trainer... so you have some leeway here.  ;)

3. I encourage you to register for the free basic trainingpeaks account. By doing so, you'll automatically receive the workouts in your email as well as be able to log your results!

4. It's encouraged to enlist other people to help you during the challenge! Get a group together in your basement and suffer to Tough Love! Don't do it all alone!

5. This isn't a rule, but I'd like to request that you post to our Facebook page (Here) at least once a week (if not Daily!!) about how you're progressing and your thoughts and feelings on the whole shabang.  Let's have some fun with this and really push each other to ride and get the work done!

6. Also not a rule, but it would be great to 'rope' a friend or loved one into the Challenge who needs a little bit of a kick in the pants to shape up.  After all, the New Year is at the end of the program and what a great way to enter the New Year being leaner and fitter than you were before Christmas!

7.  As with any endurance event, you need to be responsible for your own personal health and safety.  That means you should get the green light from your physician before starting the challenge as well as "back off" if you feel any unusual aches or pains during the training process.  Push yourself and don't be a wimp... but also be smart and know your limitations!

8. Eat for performance during the 32 day training cycle.  A poor diet will almost guarantee your failure, so make certain that you're nailing all of your nutritional needs before, during and after workouts.

9. Maintain a good sense of humor.  No one is making you do this... you brought the torture upon yourself!

Here are some FAQS:

1. Question: Do I need to have Spinervals DVD's to participate and if so, which ones do I need?

A: Ummm, duh! - it is called the Spinervals Challenge, so YES... you will need to use Spinervals! While you can do and use whatever workouts your heart desires,  ideally and to get the most benefit from the program, you'll have one or two workouts in the series targeting each of the basic intensities and skill development areas as seen below:

Recommended Videos to Consider
- Aerobic Base Builders | Including 16.0, 17.0, 18.0, 21.0, 25.0, 39.0
- Aerobic Endurance | Including 5.0, 9.0, 13.0, 26.0, 30.0, 31.0 and On The Road 2.0, 4.0, 5.0
- Threshold Training | Including 2.0,  7.0, 11.0, 14.0, 19.0, 22.0, 23.0, 24.0,  27.0, 32.0, 34.0, 35.0, 41.0
- Power & Speed Training | Including 20.0, 23/C, Team Sports Vol. 1 and 2
- Interval Training w/ Variety | 1.0, 3.0, 6.0, 10.0, 23.0, 29.0, 33.0, 36.0, 37.0
- Technique Training | 8.0, 12.0, 23A, 38.0

Most of the titles listed above can be found by clicking HERE. And if you'd like to purchase discounted bundles of several titles, go HERE.

You can also choose to substitute other titles from our Fitness and UltraConditioning series, as you see fit. See... I'm flexible!

And to really make this an effective and challenging 32 days, I'll be making suggestions regarding strength training throughout the plan... including the Strendurance 12-Week Progression.  Check that out by going here.

2. Question:  Does this cost me anything?
A.  All it'll cost you is the initial investment in the DVDs that you choose to use during the 32 days, and that's it!  And if you don't want to buy them or don't already have some, borrow them from a cycling buddy! Please don't just 'rip' or download pirated videos... or we'll have the FBI knocking at your door. ;)  The 32 day plan and participating in it is FREE, I just ask that you tell ALL of your friends how you got so fit, strong and good looking at the end of the 32 day training period. ;)

3. Question:  How do I get started?
A. It's as simple as falling off a log.  If you want to use the free training peaks account, you can register for one by clicking HERE.  If you already have an account, simply assign me as your coach.  Once you do this, email us at and place in the subject line, Spinervals Challenge, and then mention your full name and that you registered for a training peaks account.

Otherwise, watch this blog and our facebook page daily as workouts will be posted as well as video titles to obtain.

4. Question:  If I use training peaks, when will you load the plan to my TP calendar?
A. The plan will be loaded by the 30th of November, if not sooner, for your review.  Please register for an account asap and let us know per question 3 ASAP.

If you have additional questions, let us know at and we'll be glad to help you out.

To summarize, this is to be a fun, social, facebook centered 32 day ultra-endurance challenge where you'll be using the Spinervals cycling program to boost your fitness with other athletes from around the world!  It starts Dec. 1 and is over on New Year's Day.  Workouts will be posted on Facebook each day or you can register for a free trainingpeaks account to track your progress more effectively.  I encourage you to post to our FB page daily your results for added accountability and to help motivate other participants.  You'll finish the year with a BANG and go into the New Year with your highest fitness levels ever!!! WHOOOT!

That's all for now! Let us know if you'll be taking this challenge with us or email with any questions! Get on it.

Good luck and train smart,
Coach Troy

Thursday, November 10, 2011

We Take the Hard Road

A Familiar sight? A tire on the roller of your trainer. 5 am.  Click into the pedals and start to warm up with a slow spin. Ah yes, another indoor workout is about to take place on the road to nowhere.   Love it.

Pop in your Spinervals DVD workout or turn on the TODAY show. Get your water bottles ready. Turn on your fan. Put the clean, downy fresh towel on your handlebars.  Shut the door. Tell the family you're to be uninterrupted for the next hour and get the work done.  Day in, day out... 5-7 days a week. Why do you suffer like this -  both mentally and physically? Because it's who you are and it's what leads you down the path towards your goals.... whatever they may be.  Take pride in it... you are unique and special... in the top 1%. Most people think you're nuts, but you know that's not the case.  Someone, somewhere, is training more and harder than you are... in the sunshine, and you know it.  Actually, the naysayers are nuts for living a life of mediocrity and without any physical suffering. They take it easy everyday and live in the illusion of comfort while you take the hard road... everyday... with a strange sense of pleasure, because you know it makes you better.

Get up early and get on it.

Coach Troy

The Official Coach of Ironman and head Triathlon coach of Life Time Fitness, follow the coach on Twitter and Facebook

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


Don't wimp out... put that belt at 15% grade!!
Fill your schedule with lots of things to do and you'll be productive most of the time. This is what I try to tell myself at least.

Like many triathletes, I try to keep lots of balls in the air. Work, kids, friends, family, training... it all takes time and energy.  I've found that the busier I am, the more I stay focused and get things done. The less I have to do, the more time it is that I waste and then wonder later on where it all went.  

So, today was one of those days where I had a million things to do and training was fairly low on the priority list, although still very important to me mentally as well as physically.   I just feel blah when I don't get the motor running a little bit most days of the month, don't you?  

After a quick and short ride, I did some of my stretch cord work (5 minutes of freestyle pulls, etc.) and then one of my favorite high intensity workouts on the treadmill.... 15-20 minutes worth of suffering. This workout will crank your heart rate and make you work muscles you never knew you had.  It's simple, tortuous and soooo effective. Try it, but only if you have an AED nearby! 

1. Set the treadmill incline at 15% grade and the speed at 3.5-4.0 mph or at a fairly comfortable pace. Walk uphill for .5 mile.
2. Raise the speed to 4.5 - 5.5 mph (Depending on your fitness) and start to 'jog' with short steps. Drive with your arms up the hill. Go for .5 miles.
3. Increase the speed to the top of your limits for .2 miles while still at 15% grade.  Hang in there and don't fall of the back! 
4. Decrease the grade to 6-8% and the speed to 3.5-4.0 mph and walk the final .3 miles as a cooldown.

Hop off and collapse.

The entire workout will take around 20 minutes and you cover a total of 1.5 miles. Not much for the hardcore endurance athlete, right. Wrong! Try this workout next time you're in need for a strong hit of intensity and you'll get it.  

Train smart,
Coach Troy

Coach Troy is the Official coach of IRONMAN and the head triathlon coach for Life Time Fitness.
Follow him on TWITTER or on FACEBOOK.

Disclaimer: This and all workouts should be done only after a complete physical exam by your personal physician.  If you get tired or sore from trying this routine, that's the intention... so stop your whining.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

You CAN Train Less to Achieve Ironman Success

“Time is what we want most, but... what we use worst.”  
~Willaim Penn

Having fun on Alii Drive.
Long bike rides, runs and swim workouts blend together week after week as the training hours add up.  You review your training log notes and suddenly realize that, combining preparation and travel to and from workout venues, you’ve committed over 20 hours per week of your precious time to your training for your upcoming Ironman.  This happens week after week… after week. Have you ever asked yourself if you can train less and still accomplish your Ironman triathlon goals?

I used to ask myself this question frequently in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s when Ironman racing was considered extreme, even among endurance sports junkies.  I consumed article after article on long distance training and read about what the top pros were doing.  High volume was in vogue and the stars of our sport at the time were reportedly spending 40 hour (and more) weeks on the roads and in the water, swimming, cycling and running.   25,000 yds. of swimming, 400 miles of cycling and 60 miles of running were common weekly totals.  The more, the better... you had to pay the price.

And the truth is, in order to be successful at events like Ironman,  it does require boatloads of training and consistency… don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.  I discovered this first hand when I ramped up my cycling workloads in my late 20’s to see “what I could do” on the bike and it paid off… I finally cracked the 4:45 bike split barrier on a couple of occasions.  Higher volume works when it comes to Ironman training, but how much volume is ideal for you and what are the sacrifices you'll need to make?

The issue is time for the age grouper.  I don’t know about you, but nowadays as a father, business owner and generally all-around busy guy in my early 40’s, the luxury of “training lots” is out the window. And honestly, even if I had the desire to “train lots”, I probably wouldn’t out of fear of getting injured, an inability to recover well due to age and just plain old guilt! I mean, let’s face it…. your 7-hour long day of training could be spent doing much more rewarding and productive activities like: a. playing with your kids, b. volunteering to help others or working on your next business project or c. “smelling the roses” and relaxing after a hard week of work.  I hear rumors of top amateurs who train 25+ hours per week and I can't help to wonder if the sacrifices they make to go a little bit faster is worth it.   I need more results out of a lesser time commitment… and I bet you do too.

As a coach and long time athlete with lots of personal experience, I’m convinced that you can get pretty darn close to your athletic potential, within a few percent, with lower volume and more focused and consistent training, certainly in shorter races and even for distances as long as Ironman.  I just proved it to myself again in Kona this year as I posted a 9:22, only three minutes slower than I did exactly 20 years ago with just around half of the weekly training volume! Even my best time in Kona, an 8:54 in 1993, required a huge jump in weekly workloads to eclipse my time of 9:19 in 1991.  An increase in weekly training time of 30-40% yielded a result that was only about 3-5% faster on race day.   If I was racing as a full-time pro to put food on the table, that sacrifice might be worth it.  However, if you’re an age grouper training and racing for personal satisfaction, it makes less sense in the all important "time / pay back" equation.  How much is YOUR time worth on an hourly basis and what is the “cost” of training more than you need to?

I have compiled a list of a few “nuggets of Ironman Wisdom”  on the topic of training less and getting more out of it that you may wish to consider.  And if you find these compelling and thought provoking, you might want to consider some personal coaching down the road to help you execute them in your program.

Determine:  What size Engine is under your Hood?
Top Ironman Pros in the 8 hr 15 – 30 min. range have an 8-Cylinder with a Turbo.  Those from 8:30 – 9 hours have an 8 Cylinder without the turbo.  Elite Amateurs have an inline 6 with a supercharger and mid-pack athletes are sporting a nice, steady 4 cylinder.  We are all born with a certain number of cylinders and it’s our goal as endurance athletes to maximize the horsepower they can generate.  Come to grips with the size of your engine and do your best with it.  After a few years of consistent and steady Ironman training and racing, you’ll get a good sense of your time at the distance, or where you rank.   I've found it takes around 5 Ironman races to discover it.  At that point, if you’ve been training properly for Ironman all along, It’ll likely take huge increases in volume and intensity (or other extraordinary changes to your training plan, and lifestyle) to realize relatively small gains in performance.  Is it worth it?

Frequency Frequency Frequency Frequency…..
The best runners in the world, the Kenyans, run 3 times a day.  The best swimmers do doubles daily and the best cyclists spend 4-6 hours per day on the bike during key build phases.  Frequency is the key. Swim, bike and run…. In small doses each and almost everyday. 

Base is the Key
You are always building base.   Like bricks stacked one on top of another in strong building foundations, your aerobic base is accumulated through miles in the legs (and in the pool).  Year after year, you should focus on changing your physiology to get the most horsepower out of your engine as possible. Athletes I coach, especially newbies, see a focus on base early on... and often times comment how that approach helped them reach higher levels several years into their tri careers. 

Point of Diminishing Returns
Every workout has a point of diminishing return where the longer you go, the more fatigue you create and the more open you become to injury.  Of course, this is different for everyone, and only through trial and error will you discover that “point of diminishing returns”, but in my experience, most age group athletes go over it regularly.  Will a 4-hour aerobic run benefit you any more than a 2.5 hr aerobic run will? How about a 7 hour long ride compared to a 5-hour long ride?  Or, will the extra training break you down and reduce the quality of the workouts during the rest of the week? Remember, training adaptations are a result of chronic, cumulative stress/recovery cycles… as an age grouper, mega-workout sessions should be reserved for rare occasions and for race day.  For me, 4 hour rides tend to be my maximum “long ride” and 2 hours my maximum long run.  I recover just fine and can bounce back to train well for the rest of the week.  Find yours. 

Think about the Day before and the Day After
Always think to yourself, “how will this workout today be affected by yesterday’s workout and how will it impact tomorrow’s session.”.  Be aware of how one workout fits into your week, relates to the workouts around it and if it’ll set you back, or help move you forward.

Small Daily Doses
Try keeping your volumes lower in each sport while training each sport more regularly throughout the week.  Instead of doing three, 3000 yd swim workouts, try doing four or five 2000 yd workouts a week.  Or instead of riding your bike 3 days a week, ride 5 days a week for shorter distances while making your quality days even higher quality.  I know of these cool indoor workout videos called Spinervals, designed specifically for this purpose. ;)

Intensity Counts… but not Too Much
You don’t have to obliterate yourself every time you do an interval session! In fact, the rule of thumb is to always finish a quality workout feeling as if you could do a little more. Remember… think about how today’s workout will affect tomorrow’s workout (or the workout later in the day!).

Pay Attention to the Details
In addition to training smart, you need to focus on the other areas of your life that have a direct impact on your performance (and overall health) including your nutrition, recovery and your mental well-being.  By training with less overall volume and not flogging yourself constantly, you’ll find that your mind is clearer for other important things in your life, and your body won’t be tetering on the edge of breakdown all of the time.

Discipline Yourself to Go Easy
Aerobic training is not hard training, yet it’s probably the most important training sessions you’ll do as an Ironman athlete.   As a coach, the hardest part of my job is convincing a serious athlete to slow down!  Avoid allowing every aerobic workout becoming a race pace session somewhere in the “gray zone” and don't overdo the hard intervals.  This is counterproductive in developing your aerobic base for long term gains!

Train Year Round
After your season is over, give yourself a break of a few weeks. When it’s over, jump back on the horse and start building your base again.  Focus on technique in the area’s where it’s needed most. Near the start of your season, a training camp where you spend 4-7 days of higher volume training is a good idea to give you a 1-2% boost in aerobic capacity and set the tone for the rest of your season.

Have a well conceived Plan
Your Ironman training cycle should include a block of higher volume training sometime during the 8-weeks leading up to race day.  Workouts don't need to be epic, but a little longer than your normal workloads.  You'd be amazed of what even 3-4, 2-3 hr days in a row of aerobic paced riding can do for your fitness.  Again, consider how one day rolls into the next and impacts recovery.

Know Thyself
Dial in your paces and your zones. Know what makes you tick through using a HR monitor or powermeter to maximize the purpose of each session.  In Kona this year, I knew that I had to race within myself to achieve my goals and I leveraged my HR monitor as my personal tachometer as a result of training consistently with it... hitting my splits close to perfection on the bike and the run while staying within my engine size and not needing medical attention at the finish line.

Train Indoors More
Boring, yes. Effective, absolutely! That hour on the trainer or 40 minutes on the treadmill will force you to focus on what needs to be accomplished during that particular workout session.  Even here in sunny Tucson, I spend 2-3 days indoors on the bike and/or treadmill doing short, focused workouts.  It's amazing how fit you can become with a 45 minute trainer ride followed by a 30 minute treadmill run! 

Be clear, if you commit to Ironman training as your second job (or first job) and put in the big work, you will go a little faster... probably about 3-5%, and that might be what you're looking for.  However, I'm convinced that you can get pretty darn close to your Ironman potential (and meet your short course potential) while maintaining some balance with an approach that emphasizes smart training that's consistent and that maintains your health and life balance.  Good luck and feel free to contact me with any questions or comments. 

Train smart, 
Coach Troy

Troy Jacobson is the Official Coach of Ironman, creator of the Spinervals Cycling series and the head triathlon coach for Life Time Fitness. A former pro in the 1990's, he now competes as a Masters athlete while coaching other age groupers throughout the world.  For other Ironman related articles and race reports, browse this website. And for more information about his training plans and personal coaching, visit

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

My 2011 Kona Race Report | Goals MET!!

Hi and thanks for reading this relatively brief race report on by IM Kona 2011 race experience!

Running down Alii Drive with a smile.
In a nutshell, it was GREAT and probably the most relaxing and enjoyable Kona experience I've had in my 8 times competing in the race.  From my companion (Jen, the world's best triathlon significant other) to the Ironman official coaching partner experience and helping many athletes succeed to actually doing the  race itself, I left the lava fields of the big island with lots of fond memories this year.  This race really has a way of keeping one both humble and grounded.

I had the goal of finishing within 10 minutes of my time from 20 years ago, 9 hrs, 19 min. (read it HERE) and I did just that, finishing only 3 minutes slower in a time of 9:22.  It's very satisfying to not only meet a goal, but to also be able match a physical performance achieved many years ago in a 22 year old body.  I'm a lucky guy to have had that experience, and I don't take it for granted.

The race started with the most frenzied and aggressive mass start swim anywhere.  2000 of the best triathletes in the world fought for position as the canon signaled "go time".  I don't think I found any clear water until about a mile into the swim, and that only lasted for a short time. Constantly surrounded (and kicked and punched) by my competitors, I exited the water feeling steady and under control in 1:07, a few minutes slower than I'd hoped.  I guess I shouldn't expect any better in a rough non-wetsuit swim on only 5000 yds of total swimming per week.  duh.

T1 was incredibly crowded! I was the 633rd person out of the water and I think most of them exited the water with me.  :)  We worked our way to the bikes.

Once on the bike, I immediately remembered my strategy of staying within myself and trying to enjoy the race day experience... and not get caught up in trying to ride as fast as I could. The legs felt horrible at first for unknown reasons, but in retrospect, this was good as it forced me to slow down, averaging around a 135 HR (target race pace HR = 145-150) for the first hour.  Perfect.

Packs (Pelotons) on the bike were as enormous as they were on the swim. So many strong riders do Ironman now and can ride around 5 hours, it's almost impossible to break away unless you are an exceptional rider.  I give people the benefit of the doubt most of the time and realize that sometimes drafting (and some penalties) is/are inadvertent as you jockey to stay legal when passing and then getting over to the right, but some of the drafting was blatant.  I screamed at a few people who were just sitting on wheels.   Kudos to my fellow masters competitor and Spinervals Elite racing team mate, Thomas Brunold, who rode a strong and clean race for a podium finish.

My strategy for this race was to manage the burning of my matches and to stay within my limits all day.  I don't train high volumes (long bike = 4 hrs, long run = 2 hrs, long swim = 2000 yds, time per week = 10-12 hours avg. of weekly training), so I knew my ability to go "deep" and recover wasn't like it was when I was training 2-3 times more in my 20's.  I also didn't want to suffer on the run as I have in the past. I can't begin to tell you how many bad memories I have out on the Queen K, thinking that each step would be my last for the day.   I split a 4:59, hitting a steady 22.XX mph at each time check. Perfect.

I ran out of transition with the race clock at about 6:15, feeling pretty good about my chances to crack 9:25.  The legs were a little bit tired as expected as the asphalt reportedly heated up to over 130 degrees under the intense Kona sun, but the cheering spectators and seeing Jen and my other friends kept my spirits high.  I didn't feel blazing fast, but felt steady and my HR was where it needed to be, between 145 and 150 bpm (my LTHR is around 165).  I was reeling people in quickly while staying within my limits.

Once out on the Queen K, I knew that my legs and feet were going to get very sore due mainly to my minimalist approach to Ironman training.  Every aid station was a small blessing as I slowed a little to dump ice water on my head and drink water and Perform.  I also had a fuel belt filled with bottles of salty water to sip from, to prevent cramping. It worked, no leg cramps all day.

#1 Support Crew, Jen with me
at the finish line.
As the miles wore on, each step hurt a little more and required more focus to maintain stride. I remember feeling fully in control at all times however and never "out of it" as I did so many other times when red-lining it in Kona.  I even slowed a little on Alii Drive as I approached the finish to soak in the experience ... something I might have missed in the past.  I crossed the line with very sore legs but 100% "together" to finish in 9:22 and 131st OA out of 1918 finishers. (Results are HERE at  I'm thrilled with my result and feel so grateful to be able to race at a fairly high level without treating my training as a full time job, but as a daily 1-2 hr  habit.  There are lots of different ways to train for successful Ironman racing, but if anyone wants to know how to get the most performance out of the least amount of training time, let me know by clicking HERE or by visiting   It comes down to consistency and dedication day-in and day-out while having a game plan, staying within your limits and executing your strategy flawlessly.  You can do it too!

Thanks to everyone in Kona and online (FB, etc.) for your support and well-wishes! I'll be setting some new goals for 2012 and I hope you are too.  And if you'd like to see more pics from my race experience, feel free to check out my personal Facebook page.

Best wishes,
Coach Troy

Troy Jacobson is the head triathlon coach of Life Time Fitness and the Official Coach of Ironman. This was his 8th time racing in Kona since 1991 with his best placing in Kona of 20th OA as a pro in 1998.

Friday, October 7, 2011

My Pre-Ironman Perspective | T-24 Hours

Training on the Queen K. It's a long hot road to that finish Line.

As I’m writing this, it’s less than 24 hours until the start of the 2011 Ironman Hawaii! First, I wanted to thank everyone for their well-wishes and support! I really appreciate the positive vibes … thank you!!!  Here’s a little bit of an update on how things are going and my thoughts about race day, as well as my goals.

I did Ironman Hawaii for the first time as a 22 yr. old back in 1991, accompanied by my Dad and sister.  Back then, Ironman was still very much a fringe event in the world of endurance sports with only a handful of Ironman distance races throughout the world. Flash forward 20 years and Ironman is an internationally known brand and a huge commercial entity generating Millions and Millions of dollars in revenue.  My, how times have changed!

After 1991, I went on to do Ironman Kona six more times and carved a unique career out of the sport as a coach and athlete.   Needless to say, the sport and this event in particular means a lot to me and I feel it’s an honor and a huge privilege to be able to toe the line again 20 years after my first time…. This time as a masters athlete.

Many have asked me about my goals for the race.  Well, my first goal, as always, is to finish without needing medical attention.  In fact, Hope, my 7 yr. old, asked me on the phone from Tucson to try not to get hurt.  She apparently still remembers my mangled body and broken bones as a result of crashing at the Leadville 100 Mountain Bike race last year. I told her not to worry….that daddy would be fine.  She was happy to hear that.

My second goal is to be within 10 minutes of my time in 1991, when I was a young 22 yr. old buck.   That time was 9:19 and breaks down to approximately a 1:03 swim (2.4 miles), 5:10 bike (112 miles) and 3:05 run (26.2 miles).  Although I noticed another gray hair this morning, it would be awesome to try and defy age by beating my former self! I think it’s a possibility. Even though I’m not as physically capable 20 years later, I know I’m a smarter racer.  In addition, back in 1991 I raced on a road bike with clip on aerobars, changed clothes during each transition and supplemented my sodium by eating salt encrusted powerbar chunks. Technology has come a long way!

Also, now I race for a time as my strategy, not to ‘win’.  Ego and the desire to win seem to drive many of the younger athletes, especially testosterone powered males.  That makes for a long day on the race course for many as they “Burn their matches” early out on the Queen K and then blow up in spectacular fashion. I know… been there, done that.  Nowadays, I try to focus on staying within myself, doing my own race and being steady all day long.  If the day goes well, I hope to hit the following time goals on this historically difficult race course.

Swim:  1:05-1:08
Bike:  5:10 – 5:15
Run:  3:10 – 3:15
Transitions 5-7 minutes

If I can deliver upon these time goals, I’m pretty close to my 1991 time of 9:19 … 9:30 ish! :)

My third goal, or “perfect day” goal is to podium with a sub-9:15 time.  I think I have the engine to do it, given my recent results over the past two seasons, if everything goes perfectly well.  The masters division is incredibly competitive this year with several former pros toeing the line, so it’s possible that a good day will enable one of the old guys to crack the 9 hour barrier.  We’ll see very soon!

In any case, it’s incredible to be here again after investing so many years competing here in the 1990’s.  Although I’ll be incredibly anxious and nervous before and during much of the race, I’ll also be smiling a lot with thankfulness and gratitude for the ability, good fortune, support from my family and friends (Jen, thank you!) and good health to still be participating in this unique sport at this level for so many years. 

I wish everyone doing the 2011 Ironman Kona good luck and to finish in good health.  3-2-1 GO!!


Troy Jacobson is the creator of the Spinervals Cycling series, official coach of Ironman and the head triathlon coach for Life Time Fitness. Learn more at

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Iron Focus | 5 Important Tips for Success

Being an Ironman athlete requires a huge investment in time, money and emotional strength.  For many people, it takes on the commitment levels of a second job as more and more “free time” is spent swimming, cycling and running in pursuit of higher levels of endurance and speed. And the more you train, commit and invest, the higher the expectations are for success from yourself as well as from the people you know.  For some, the pressure of increasing expectations to perform is too much and has a negative impact on other areas of life, including family and career.  And ultimately, this creates a snowball affect whereby your race performance begins to suffer as well.

I call it the Ironman Black Hole and in my 20+ years of training, racing and coaching experience, have found that no one is immune to falling into it.  While participation in our sport has so many positive benefits including boosting one’s physical fitness, personal health, self-esteem and self-confidence it can also have negative consequences when taken to an extreme, including misdirected focus, failed relationships and even poor health.  If you’re a veteran of Ironman racing, I bet you know of at least a couple people in your training circles who have allowed things to spiral a little out of control.

How does one cope and find a balance while managing their personal expectations?

I’m not a mental health expert, but as a coach I’ve had the unique opportunity to observe hundreds of athletes over the years and through those observations, I’ve formed a few key opinions on how best to maintain a sense of balance in life while performing in Ironman at peak levels.

1.    Train Smart, not just Long and Hard:
Basically, this means that you need to try to achieve maximum gains in form and fitness with the least amount of training time commitment and energy expenditure.  I’m not suggesting that you don’t need to “pay the price” and log the miles. I’m suggesting that you need to log the miles strategically in the course of your annual training cycle, and focus on quality training at other times.  Every training session reaches a point of diminishing returns, and as an example, for some people a long ride of 4 hours might yield better results than a 6 hour bike ride.   Make it your goal to maximize your gains in the least amount of time, develop a training plan around that goal (or have someone do it for you) and execute the plan. 

2.    Training is only PART of the Performance Equation:
Rest and recovery is of equal importance to actual training.  I know of several dedicated athletes who burn the candle at both ends, squeezing in 20+ hour training weeks with busy professional careers and the needs of a young family.  Eventually, something has to take a back seat and that’s usually sleep and recovery time.   When this happens, performance suffers and the athlete gets lulled into the trap of training more to overcome that perceived loss in performance, when in reality the key is to train less and rest more! Balance is critical… rest more for better results.

3.    Get Over Yourself:
You may notice that Ironman training is inherently a selfish endeavor.  You spend large blocks of time focused on your training and recovery needs, not to mention large sums of money paying for your expensive hobby.  Then once you start having some success at the races, your perceived sense of self-worth can expand, as does the size of your head. 

I’ve observed that the best athletes who are in the lifestyle over the long term stay grounded and maintain a sense of gratitude and remain humble for what they are able to accomplish as athletes. Not everyone has the ability to do what we as Ironman athletes and sometimes we tend to take for it granted.

Try to give back by mentoring/coaching others, volunteering at events or racing for a charitable cause.  It’ll help keep you focused as well as help you keep things in proper perspective.

4.    Remember Why you Train and Race:
We all have different reasons for doing Ironman.  99.9% of people who participate in triathlon do it as a recreational pursuit and not to generate income to support themselves and their families.  However, if you go to a National caliber race, you’d swear that every bike on the rack is worth over $5K+ and that every athlete with their sponsored logo’d team kits, strutting their stuff, was a full-time pro racing to win and to get a paycheck to put food on the table.  We know this is not the case.

I’ve seen athletes get so worried about how they do and what people will think about them based on their results, they tighten up and get paralyzed with fear, ending up having sub-par performances and in the process, not enjoying the race experience.  

Research and experience shows that an athlete in a relaxed but focused state performs at optimal levels.  Don’t spend unnecessary emotional energy worrying about what other people think of your result, because truth be told, no one really cares as much as you do! (Except perhaps your coach!)

Remind yourself frequently, especially before your key “A” race, that the sun will shine the next day regardless of your placing in the age group.  Have fun out there on the course, keep it loose and remind yourself of why you race and your performance will reflect your attitude.

5.     Learn to Deal with Adversity:
There is one thing that is guaranteed during the course of an Ironman and that is that something “bad” or unplanned will happen.  Sounds a little bit like life, huh?  The day is long and hard and there are so many moving parts and variables, from getting goggles knocked off in the swim to having a mechanical on the bike to puking up your GU on the run.  Everyone out there racing with you wants that “perfect” day, but few, if any, will experience it.  Learn how to deal with adversity and not allow it to have a negative impact on your performance.  Plan for it (i.e. know how to change your tire quickly) and be mentally prepared to deal with it if and when it happens. Remember, having a good attitude is a key to race day success when things don't go your way. And whatever you do, never throw your bike or scream at a volunteer! 

In reviewing these five key observations, I notice that I’ve been guilty, at least to some degree, of falling to the dark side on a few of them at one point or another over my 20+ year triathlon career and have learned the hard way how to overcome.  My hope is that you can use these observations to better your training, balance your life, lift your attitude and take your Ironman performance to the next level!

Good luck and train smart!

Coach Troy

Troy Jacobson is a former pro, creator of the Spinervals Cycling video series, Head Tri-Coach for Life Time and an Official Coach of IRONMAN. Learn more at

Learn more about developing your IRON FOCUS by downloading the 45 minute audio and complimentary workbook by clicking HERE.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Improve Your Cycling Efficiency to Ride Faster

"Efficiency and energy conservation are keys to faster cycling." 

Have you ever experienced riding behind an accomplished road cyclist or mountain biker and marveled at the smooth, effortless and fluid manner in which they pedal the bike? As with anything in life, those who excel in a particular area make it look "easy," and we tend to forget the hours and hours of time and effort that went into perfecting their craft.

To the average person, pedaling a bike might seem like an activity that requires little skill or technique development. This is far from the truth, however, for the competitive cyclist or triathlete who depend on efficiency and energy conservation in order to generate maximum velocity at the lowest possible metabolic cost.

As with any skill set, the more you practice good form and technique and ingrain those movement patterns into your neuromuscular pathways, the more you are likely to perform at a higher level on race day. There are several things to think about when the goal is to improve your cycling efficiency. I've listed a few of them below for your consideration.
  1. Bike Fit: The lightest, coolest and most expensive bike on the block doesn't mean a hill of beans if it doesn't fit you properly. Saddle height, fore and aft position, reach to the handlebar, cleat position on your shoes and even crank length will all play a factor in your pedaling efficiency.
  2. Aerodynamics vs. Power: This is an age old question that all triathletes must deal with at one time or another. Cycling fans might remember Miguel Indurain (i.e. "Big Mig") time trialing in the TDF(Tour de France) on his steel Pinarello bike almost looking as if he was sitting upright on his aero bars. On the other end of the spectrum was Hour Record Holder, Chris Boardman, the creator of the now-banned "superman" position, which stretched him out on the aerobars as if he were flying, cutting a hole in the wind while low to the ground. Big Mig chose to produce more power instead of trying to get his 6'2" frame lower to the ground in an aerodynamic tuck; whereas Boardman leveraged his smaller stature and flexibility to maximize his aerodynamics. During your bike fit, determine what's best for you in terms of power output and comfort or aerodynamics.
  3. Cadence Range: Let's face it... some athletes are "mashers" and some are "spinners." Research shows that most inexperienced cyclists tend to pedal bigger gears at lower cadences in contrast to more experienced riders who tend to pedal at higher cadences (85-95 RPM or Revolutions Per Minute). Former TDF champ and Team Telecom Rider, Jan Ullrich of Germany, was famous for mashing a huge gear-inch as he blasted to 30+ mph average speeds during Time Trials, earning him the description as a "Diesel Engine." Seven-time TDF winner, Lance Armstrong, proved that riding with an exceptionally high cadence of 100+ RPM was a good way to race a bike and win. Different athletes, different riding styles. I encourage most athletes to find a middle ground and typically, a cadence range of 80-90 RPM works best as a "sweet spot."
  4. Drill, Drill, Drill: Perfect practice makes perfect. Every time you go out for a ride, think of good form. Focus on a fluid pedaling action with a relaxed upper body and a flat back. As the road tilts up or as you ride into a head wind, think about pulling back and up a little more, using the entire pedal stroke, which serves to unweight the opposing leg. Allow for your knees to track naturally over the pedal spindle and not to splay out. Incorporate high cadence drills of 20-30 seconds at 110+ RPM into your weekly training plan. Get very comfortable riding on your aerobars for hours on end.
I encourage every serious cyclist and triathlete to invest time and energy into improving their technique and efficiency by using the ideas listed in this article. You'll be very pleased with the results come race day!

Train smart,
Coach Troy

For several excellent indoor trainer cycling workouts designed to improve skill and technique, check out and in particular, Spinervals 38.0 - Develop Technique and Power