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...No idea where I'm headed in 2018/2019, but I can't wait to get there...

So you've landed here on my iWillNotBonk.com Triathlon Training Blog and you're probably wondering who the hell this Tavis guy is and what iWillNotBonk is all about.

I'm just an average age-grouper / weekend warrior blogging about Ironman Triathlon Training and this complex puzzle of juggling life, having fun and reporting on my various feats of strength and endurance adventures!

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CoachCast: Kona Preparation with Simon Ward

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The big race is almost here

For some triathletes, making it to Kona is the achievement they have strived for. For others, Kona is yet another chance to test their determination in a challenging, unforgiving environment. Regardless, all of the triathletes will face the same punishing heat, humidity, and wind on a course that is known for testing the best racers in the world.

Dave Schell first discusses this year’s race conditions with BestBikeSplit Co-Founder Ryan Cooper, and then chats with Coach Simon Ward who has guided dozens of athletes to Kona over his coaching career. Simon raced in the Championship last year himself, and is busy preparing this year’s crop of athletes to excel in the race.


The One Thing
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2018 Kona IRONMAN World Championship

Ready, Set, Kona!

Our 2018 IRONMAN World Championship coverage has race-day predictions, athlete insights and training takeaways straight from the Big Island.

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The Art of The Taper: It’s Not A One-Size Fits All

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By design, training will gradually fatigue and break down the body. But approximately 1-3 weeks before a race (depending on the distance), athletes will “taper” down the volume of training. This allows your body to fully recover, setting you up for the best success possible on race day. So, just build up training, then rest before your race, and the magic will happen, right? Well, in the famous words of Lee Corso, not so fast! The taper is definitely not one-size-fits-all. Here are three common scenarios that will require a more creative tapering process.


As much as we want to avoid injuries, they do occur, especially as athletes continue to push themselves to reach ever more ambitious goals. To understand how a training plan might need to shift due to injury, imagine a triathlete preparing to race a 70.3. Everything seems to be lining up perfectly when, 8 weeks before the race, she suffers an injury that stops her from running. She can still strength train, swim and bike, which she continues to do while taking time off from running.

Four weeks later, the athlete is 100% healthy and cleared to run—great! But now we are only four weeks from race day. Are we going to stick to the original plan of a two-week taper? For strength, swim and bike, yes: The gradual two-week taper will continue as planned. But for the run, she’ll want to take a different approach, something of a reverse taper.

The athlete above neither needs nor wants a two-week run taper; she’s already rested her run legs for four weeks. It’s now time to reintroduce the stress of running so that her body can properly adapt to the stress being placed on it. Even in the final two weeks before the race, while tapering for strength, swim and bike, her run workouts will continue to build. This build will continue until just a few days before race day, when she’ll take an abbreviated run taper.


Illness, while similar to injury, can present an entirely different package. With illness, all workouts can be affected. To illustrate this situation, let’s say, six weeks out from race day, an athlete comes down with a serious URI (upper respiratory infection) and it takes two weeks for him to fully recover. During this two weeks, he has to put all workouts on the shelf. Like the injury example above, it’s time to get creative, pivot, adjust the training plan and get ready for race day.

Similarly to the triathlete and her run, the weeks leading into the race will now become a build/rebuild of the strength, swim, bike and run. Furthermore, the planned two-week taper will become a much shorter 4-7 day taper. Again, this athlete was already out of commission for two weeks. From a mental, physical and physiological perspective, this athlete is pumped up and thrilled to be healthy again. They are ready to train (not taper and rest), and the shorter taper will set them up for race day success.


Let’s say an athlete is six weeks out from race day and has to head out on an unexpected business trip for two weeks. She is going to be slammed with 12-14 hour work days for the entire trip. Like in the examples above, her original plan was a gradual two-week taper; what should she do? Well, she can try to keep her training volume high during this trip. But by adding in the stress of travel and work, she is definitely going to risk possible overtraining, reduced sleep, etc., which will seriously compromise her race day performance. Time to get really creative.

Since this athlete’s focus for the next two weeks is all business, all the time, she could simply focus on getting adequate sleep each night to stay on task. She could also pepper in a few short workouts over the trip—a run around the conference center, or some strength training in the hotel gym can go a long way. Upon her return, the athlete will be rested, healthy and ready to make the most of the final four weeks leading into race day. Just like in the illness example, her training build/rebuild will lead into a shortened 4-7 day taper—then it’s game on!

In summary, athletes and coaches need to understand that a by-the-book taper will not always produce the best results. Instead, we need to be flexible and creative in order to set ourselves (or our athletes) up for the ultimate success.

The post The Art of The Taper: It’s Not A One-Size Fits All appeared first on TrainingPeaks.

Ben Hoffman Finds Opportunity in Technology

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Back in the early 2000’s, during my first years of doing triathlons, I kept a handwritten training log. The wide-ruled composition book contained endless chicken-scratch entries. I recorded the distance and time of each swim, bike and run workout; and I eventually added a section for strength.

Sometimes I included a brief explanation of the day and a summary of how I was feeling in and out of training. But as my training progressed, so too did the technology; and I began to pay more attention to new, more useful performance indicators.

New technology, new measurements

Soon, heart rate monitors became commonplace in my circle of friends, alongside GPS watches and power meters. After a visit to the Health and Human Performance lab for VO2 testing to establish my zones, I started tracking my heart rate regularly on the bike and run. That was probably the first true piece of technology I implemented for recording hard data from my training sessions.

Fast-forward almost 15 years, and heart rate is still an important metric that I track in my training and recovery on a daily basis. Heart rate (and subsequent training zones) remains one of the most basic and informative ways to track the effectiveness of your workouts.

Since our bodies are constantly changing and evolving with training and life stresses, it is important to keep tabs on these numbers with regular tests and additional monitoring. Keeping your training zones as up to date as possible will generate the best fitness results and the most complete picture of your health.

Helpful blood data without needles

Technology has also made leaps and bounds in other areas, and now it is possible to non-invasively track your hemoglobin, oxygen content (OC), SP02, and other biomarkers.

I track blood measurements with my Cercacor Ember device. One of the features I use regularly is the overlay display of heart/pulse rate and OC. This reading helps me hone in on my physical fatigue level without emotions attached. It also helps guide important decisions about workouts and recovery.

Being able to track my hemoglobin values and get a good sense of my plasma volume has also become essential for me in my hardest weeks leading into Kona, especially as I train in hot conditions to acclimate. Understanding, practically in real time, how my body is responding to stress has made me a stronger and smarter athlete.

Power(ful) data

Power (watts) on the bike is another data point that I monitor daily during each ride. The numbers achieved do not take into account every aspect of your physical fitness or health, but simply show hard you are pushing the pedals.

Power alone can distract from the bigger picture, but paired with heart rate can give you a good idea of your fitness progression on the bike. Power can also help guide you to your best performance— as long as you acknowledge a broader view of fatigue levels and outside variables like weather conditions.

Choosing Your Data Quiver

With the availability of all kinds of technology, it can feel like you’re getting lost in a sea of data. To simplify things, I have personally narrowed my data quiver to a heart rate monitor, power meter, TrainingPeaks software, and the non-invasive hemoglobin tracker Cercacor Ember.

I find it helpful to pick a few points during each exercise to monitor. I also take quick Ember measurements at the start of day, before and after big workouts, and at the end of the day. Focusing on those in-the-moment readings while training, then taking the time after each week to review, I can build a strong overall picture of how I’m responding to the various stimuli in my life.

TrainingPeaks also gives me an important look at fitness/health with the CTL/ATL/Form charts. These help me know how my body is responding to various training loads and recovery cycles.

Insights from my Kona ’17 performance

Last year, after a tough run in Kona, I looked back at my heart rate, power, and Ember data. I concluded that I most likely over-biked and under-fueled during the cycling leg—and I was likely a bit over-trained in general leading into Kona ‘17.

This year, I am preparing to hold the power and paces that my coach and I see as necessary for the win. Bringing all the above information together has helped me set the power and heart rate goals that I believe will get me to the finish line first. Of course, I’m also keeping very accurate tabs on my daily and long-term recovery.

Additionally, by analyzing the way my body responded to altitude last summer in Boulder during the first half of the Kona training block, we were able to deduce a more optimal training window at elevation before coming down to a lower altitude in the lead up to Hawaii.

Technology = Opportunity

Tracking your specific data points and concluding optimal protocols for your goals will always be a very individual game. But with these great tools at your disposal, you have significant opportunity for continued improvement and to boost your competitiveness.

Good luck!

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Why Should You Become TrainingPeaks Certified?

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What is a TrainingPeaks certification?

Whether you are just getting started as a coach in the endurance sports world or you are already at icon status, a TrainingPeaks certification might help you take your business to the next level.

But, with so many other certifications out there, why TrainingPeaks? Your TrainingPeaks certification will help separate you from the pack by making you more visible on TrainingPeaks platforms. Also, potential athletes know that a TrainingPeaks certification means you have been vetted by TrainingPeaks, are a leader in your field, and have the education and experience to back it up.

Levels of Certification

There are two levels of TrainingPeaks certifications which come with different requirements and benefits:

Level 1 Coach Certification


Proof of nationally recognized coaching certifications in the sports you specialize in.

Proof of current liability insurance. We require a minimum of $1,000,000 (USD) in coverage per coach for coaches based in the US and a minimum of $250,000 (USD) in coverage per coach for coaches located outside of the US.

Must be actively using a TrainingPeaks Coach Account for at least 6 consecutive months.

TrainingPeaks Certification application completed.

Must complete the Level 1 Certification Course and receive a passing grade on the exam.
Coach profile will appear higher in TrainingPeaks Coach Directory searches.

TrainingPeaks Certification Level 1 logo added to Coach Directory and available for other business uses.

Opportunities to present a TrainingPeaks-hosted webinar.

Opportunities to write articles for the TrainingPeaks blog.

Level 2 Coach Certification


Meets all requirements of TrainingPeaks Level 1 Certification.

Hold a Level 1 Certification for a minimum of 6 consecutive months.

Attend or complete TrainingPeaks University Online in addition to one other qualifying TrainingPeaks course.

Submit letters of recommendation from two athletes.

Submit a brief description of coaching your philosophy (under 500 words).

Pass a short online exam.

Complete a Level 2 interview conducted by a TrainingPeaks program manager.
All TrainingPeaks Level 1 benefits.

Eligible to participate in TrainingPeaks Coach Match Premium Coaching Services. This includes personalized marketing and complimentary billing services.

Coach profile will appear highest in TrainingPeaks Coach Directory searches.

TrainingPeaks Certification Level 2 logo added to Coach Directory and available for other business uses.

Both certifications must be renewed yearly.

What is Coach Match?

You probably didn’t start your coaching business because of your love of tracking down and invoicing athletes. We started Coach Match so you don’t have to worry about any of that.

With Coach Match, athletes looking for a coach submit detailed questionnaires about their sport history and goals which are reviewed by our team. Then, the Coach Match team hand-selects TrainingPeaks Level 2 Certified coaches which would be a good fit and connects them. You take it from there.

If the match seems like a good fit, then you can start doing what you do best: coaching. We’ll take care of the standardized billing based on the athlete’s preferred level of service, and you’ll receive monthly payments without the hassle.

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Keeping It: The Master’s Athlete

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In Jeff Bercovici’s book, Play On: The New Science of Elite Performance at Any Age, Bercovici says that “finding peak performance as an older athlete isn’t about denying reality. Nor is it about reconciling oneself to suffering or disappointment. It’s about being the best version of yourself, [and] performing better while feeling better.”

The fact is, athletes over the age of 35 are still out there hitting balls, running races, swimming fast and pretty much proving that athletic prowess isn’t over in your twenties. In fact, many athletes are just coming into form in their early thirties, especially in endurance sports. The “reality” Bercovici refers to is the effect of age on our physiology. The best diet and training will help ward off cognitive decline, muscle wasting and cardiovascular impairment—but even the most rigorous routine can’t completely stop the effect of time on our bodies.

This begs the question, how does an ‘older athlete’, or masters athlete, continue to remain in the game both physically and psychologically?

Aim for Consistency

Adopting a routine that generally follows a predictable, well-planned pattern will reduce your chances of taking on workouts that may result in injury. Anyone who has joined a masters cycling group knows what happens frequently; it’s like a world championship on each climb. Which is OK, for the well-trained cyclist, but could cause injury for the less-so. Having a coach in this sort of situation can help you set realistic athletic goals and then pursue them in a logical, planned manner.

Prioritize Sleeping

I personally can attest to the changes that every older athlete needs to come to terms with. While I was, fortunately, able to deny most of it until I hit 42, the fact is that you can’t have it all forever, especially not at a high level. It can be really difficult for the ‘once was fast’ older athlete to face performance declines than it might be to a new-to-the-sport older athlete.

Adding to the challenge is the fact that endurance junkies are often in it for the fun and adventure as much as the competition, so the “more is more” training model can be appealing on a number of levels. But as Raymond Verheijen, Dutch exercise physiologist says, “if you are extremely fit but also extremely tired, your performance will be shit.”

So what do you do? Sleep. Joe Friel puts it in Fast After 50, “Sleep is your primary means of recovery from training stress. There is nothing else you can do that will help you recover faster or more completely.” Our production of human growth hormone consistently decreases as we age, and cutting sleep cycles (where that production occurs) to add extra training is a mistake.

Eat More Protein!

Another area to focus on is diet. Older athletes need more protein than our younger selves because we don’t synthesize it as well when we age. Older athletes may need 40 grams of protein, for example, to achieve the same level of protein synthesis as younger athletes, who need only 20-25 grams. To optimize protein synthesis and retain muscle, be diligent about adding protein immediately after strenuous sessions, which increases the rate of muscle rebuilding. Adding in some protein 30 min before bed can also assist in this. Foam rolling, ice baths, compression, massage, cupping, acupuncture are some other great tools in assisting with recovery.

Try Intervals

There are high mileage runners who could handle big weeks in their 30s, but start to experience injury and breakdown in their 40s, and can’t get through a successful training block to get to the starting line. Luckily, research is showing us that interval training on an already strong aerobic base allows the experienced athlete to train less and still achieve more.

Aerobic capacity intervals (at or slightly below VO2 max speed/power), and lactate threshold intervals (90-95% of lactate threshold HR) are both effective and require less volume.

Don’t Skip Strength Training

Every piece of available research suggests that masters athletes will benefit from building each type of muscle fiber. Friel suggests you start your strength program in your base period (20 or more weeks out from your A race) and follow through until you are in a maintenance phase approaching your race. In my experience, strength also works best when it includes mobility and movement patterns. Put your body through the motions you will need to do your sport well, and monitor those patterns as you go so that an imbalance or weakness is stopped before it becomes an injury.

In summary, you can continue to be the best you can be as you age. You may need to make some changes in goal-setting, training methods and lifestyle, but I can tell you it’s worth it. You will not enjoy the great age-defying benefits of exercise, but you’ll satisfy your inner endurance monster, creating challenges and adventures that will continue as you age.

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