Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Triathlon Coaches: Part II- Choosing the Right Coach

In the first blog post in this two part series I talked about the importance of having a triathlon coach. In this second and final post I'll discuss some important considerations for when you decide that having a coach is right for you.

Different coaches will have different appeals, meaning that a coach may easily be suited to one type of athlete versus another. Personality and coaching characteristics aside I strongly recommend that any coach you consider have either a strong history of participation in the sport, or a strong academic background in human performance with a degree in a field such as Kineseology. There is money to be made these days in coaching and hosting training camps and there are individuals out there who are looking to capitalize on that fact who may have less than stellar credentials, don't be fooled, read this blog and then do your homework.

[Note: For personal preference at this point in my athletic career I would like to have a coach that has done well in the sport I'm looking to be coached in. However there are some truly exceptional coaches with no remarkable history as athletes in the sports they coach such as; Joe Friel, Bill Bowerman, Ian Pope, Lou Holtz, etc.)

Here are a few important things to consider when deciding which coach is right for you:

Desired Level of Commitment

There is no use whatsoever in hiring Chris Carmichael to push up those watts, or Jillian Michaels to shed those pounds if all you're looking to do is have some one write up some suggested workouts for you. On the flip side, if you're already a sub 12 or sub 10 Ironman and have reached a performance plateau, a coach may be exactly what you need to reach the next level. Your coach's commitment to you should be reflective of your commitment to goals and training. On the spectrum of levels of involvement/commitment you have;
  • Free online training plans with literally no involvement from anyone but you
  • Subscription based interactive online training plans such as those from Endurance Nation or TrainingPeaks ($10-$100 per month)
  • A coach you interact with online that emails or uploads workouts to you via TrainingPeaks or some other software package, and then reviews them and makes necessary adjustments on a periodic basis. This would include Carmichael Training Systems, and LifeSport Coaching ($150/month and up)
  • Local one on one coaches that monitor your training via email/TrainingPeaks, as well as work with you face to face and lead group sessions and host clinics ($120/month and up)
All of these options have their own pros and cons. The first two options benefit from being low cost/free, however you only have yourself to be accountable to, which can be a huge factor for some. On the flip side, the second two options have a living, breathing human being looking at your progress and giving you workouts- for a price.

So which is better? If you have the money and commitment, I personally recommend paying for a live coach for all the reasons I discussed in my first blog post. As for whether you should get an online coach or a local coach, I lean towards supporting the local coaches the way I believe its important to support the local bike shop (even if Bonktown can get you those bike shoes for cheaper). But there are some exceptional coaches online and I realize some people may not have access to local coaching due to things like geography or busy schedules, in that case online isn't a bad option.

Area of Expertise

When selecting a coach, ask them straight up what kind of athletes they generally coach. Some coaches focus on getting people from the couch to their first sprint distance triathlon, others will have a lot of competitive sprint, XTerra and Olympic distance athletes, and others will have a nice crew of Ironman triathletes in their group.

Its important you go to a coach who is familiar with coaching people to the distance for which you are training for two main reasons. The obvious first reason is that the physiological demands or a 1.5 hour sprint tri are vastly different than a 10+ hour Ironman. Getting someone from the couch to the start line of their first race can be a task fraught with obstacles that some coaches will be better suited to than others. Similarly, Ironman can introduce stress on the body orders or magnitude greater than what most people are used to, and if you're preparing for the big 140.6 then its best you have someone who knows their stuff.

The second reason to choose a coach who trains others to the same distance as you is simply because you'll likely be able to meet others who are on the same road as you (pun) and this is a great way to meet new training partners.

Know the Coach

Last but not least, its important to find out everything you can about a prospective coach. This is more than just visiting the coach's website, ask members of your local triathlon community, visit your local triathlon shop, check your provincial or state triathlon organization for a directory of coaches, and so on. Most good coaches will want to sit down with you before you commit to anything to make sure their coaching style and your personal goals and needs are a good fit. This is a great opportunity for you to ask questions and learn more about the coach's style and history. some good questions to ask include;
  • How long have you been coaching and what are your qualifications?
  • How many athletes do you currently coach, and is there a maximum to how many you'll take on per season?
  • How many hours a week do you typically prescribe for athletes?
  • Where do you fall between high volume/low intensity or low volume/high intensity?
  • What classes, clinics, and training camps do you host?
  • How often will you review and make revisions to my plan? Weekly? Monthly?
  • How do you evaluate my progress? Qualitative feedback? Heart rate data? Power files?
  • How do I provide you with my data? Training Peaks? Email?
  • How many one on one sessions do we have? How much do I pay for more?
  • What races to you typically attend? (if a coach has a number of athletes whose A Race is Ironman _______ then often they may attend as well).
  • Can you provide insight on nutritional needs?
There is no real right or wrong answer to any of the above questions, each person should have a sense to what they would like, and how much they're willing to pay for it. Its important you find a coach that suits your needs and can help you reach your goals.


At the end of the day its its important you find a coach who is knowledgeable and adept at applying that knowledge to the needs of different individuals. Its critical that you find the coach who is right for you and that you are comfortable working with. Your coach should be an individual who can push you to excel to your personal bests when it is right for you, but also a person who can help you get through the challenges and frustration of being an athlete which can take the form of a bad race, poor training day, or even injury.

A good coach will know you as an athlete almost as well as you know yourself, so when you find him/her, trust them, be honest with them, train hard, and train smart.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Race Report: Calgary Police Half Marathon

Typically I wouldn't write a race report for a single sport race simply because they can seem relatively straight forward (one foot in front of the other, repeat 10 thousand times), but I know some of you are easing into longer distance runs so I thought I'd give you an idea of how it all plays out. Next post will be the second part in my series on coaches.


The days leading up to the race I was looking at the weather forecast hoping that it wouldn't snow, figuring knowing more about being on the wrong side of the jet stream would reduce the likelihood of 20cm of snow. It snowed anyways but with a temperature only at -3C I still opted to run in my Zoot Ultra 2.0's race flats, 2XU compression tights and shirt, my Tricommitment jersey, and a Lululemon toque. As a general rule for running I like to dress like its 10C warmer than it actually is, and you'll be fine.

Woke up at 6:00am, had a bagel, a banana, and an Ensure. For the record, Ensure makes a great race morning drink since its loaded with calories, vitamins, protein, carbs, etc etc. But more importantly Ensure sits very well. Typically you don't need a very large breakfast before a race, since your body only needs to replenish the glycogen stores that its depleted while you sleep. You generally want to finish your last meal (that sounds ominous) about 12-14 hours before the race start.

Drove to the race start, listened to music, said hello to the awesome Lululemon 4th Street team, and chilled for a bit. I made sure I got to the start line early though so I could seed myself in the front 100 or so racers. Last year I made the mistake of seeding myself towards the back and struggled to get through traffic.

The Race

It snowed the night before, a lot. So the race started, and on the first couple corners people started going down. After about a km I looked at my watch and found myself about 10-15 seconds per km off the pace I set for myself at this heart rate. The snow was absorbing a lot of energy as though I was running in sand as well as causing slipping that was putting me off pace. I knew from that point on that my benchmark of a good vs bad race wouldn't so much be my actual time, as where I placed overall.

For the first 5k or so people were passing me so between that and my pace I really had to focus on racing my own race and listening to my body. But as we approached the halfway mark I heard someone yell I was in the top 100 so I figured if I didn't lose position from that point on I'd be happy since its a race of about 1600 people (typically about 2000). At 10k I took a Hammer gel at the aid station and Shirl told me I was looking good.

After the half way mark I started making up position again and it seemed people were falling off, and my pace was starting to pick up. I had planned to run a negative split but with the snow I figured I'd just be trying to hang on at that point. Past halfway you go into a part of the Glenmore loop called Weaselhead which is in a valley with steep hills in and out. Going in was challenging because you didn't want to bail, but coming out was even harder because you were running up a small ski hill. On top of that since I was now making up positions, I was also having to pass people off the race line of packed snow, which meant running in 5 inch deep fresh powder. At the top of the big hill out of the valley there were bagpipers, the Lululemon cheer squad with a sign with my name on it, and an aid station, all of which was very uplifting.

For a bit I actually thought I pushed too hard up that hill but I took my second gel (about 17km in now) which was the one with caffeine in it. I stuck out the next 2 or 3k, and then in the last km I was able to drop the hammer entirely thanks to another awesome triathlete who insisted I draft him into the headwind to catch a buddy. Oddly enough my HR monitor was maxing out with a reading of 220bpm, which I knew I wasn't at. My HR monitor strap had slid down to my stomach, and I think it was picking up my readings, and the readings of the other guy. So that was garbage, I just had to dig deep and listen to my body for a 1k push.

Crossed the finish line to be greeted by my awesome girlfriend Shirl, the Tri It team, and my family (who had run the 5k).

I ended up 78th overall with a time of about 1:39:12 (I think). The top guys were about 3-5 minutes off pace from last year, and I think that would be a fair estimate of what the conditions did. All in all a great, albeit wet Police Half Marathon.

Post Race

Its been a sore couple days with lots of tightness in my peroneal tendon which is the one that runs down the outside of your calve and through your ankle. Running in fresh snow can be a lot like trail running and I think I'm paying for for the race a little more than I normally would since it activated a lot more muscles than your typical half mary.

What I learned

A lot of this race was about adjusting on the fly. Typically I let my computer tell me what to do but with the adverse conditions and the HR monitor issues over the last few km I really had to listen to my body. I can't stress enough the value of using the information your body provides you as your number one data input. A lot of people use music when they're racing or training and that can be a great way to build focus, or it can be a huge distraction from the task at hand. For this race I specifically chose not to bring my ipod since there were just too many other things to think about that day. I'm glad I made that decision as it allowed me to focus on the challenging terrain, focus on listening to my body, and of course interact with other racers and have fun!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Triathlon Coaches: Part I- The Importance of a Coach

Last week I got engaged in one of those never ending forum debates (on Slowtwitch no less) that has you explaining to your significant other that the reason you can't leave the computer and get to bed is because "there is someone wrong on the internet". The debate was about coaches, and in the end the debate, like so many was more of a case of two people saying the same thing differently. The resolute conclusion was that coaches are an incredibly valuable resource for any level triathlete, and that they must be selected with care and attention.

Why use a coach?

Triathlon is an exceptionally demanding sport that requires you to at the very least be competent at three sports. In order to appropriately train for even a sprint triathlon its best that you be dividing a minimum of about 6 hours a week into swimming, biking, and running. As you get up into the Ironman distances an age grouper could easily be spending 20 hours a week training on top of a regular job and our life's commitments.

In my eyes, what a coach does is allow you to train smarter AND harder. Smarter in the sense that a coach can take the finite amount of time you have available for training, and optimize that time towards improving your weaknesses, building your strengths, and preparing you for your goal races. Harder in the sense that often in the endless weeks and months of training there is a tendency to get a little too comfortable in our training, believing that just having the volume is sufficient.

Training Smarter

I like to consider myself a student of the sport. I'm a numbers and data geek by nature and I can get into an informed discussion about a cyclist's watts/kg, or oxygen uptake and lactate thresholds, Training Stress Scores, etc. So for my first year of triathlon I didn't use a coach, I read a few books, consulted online resources, and spent time learning zones, periods, and swimming more efficiently. It worked very well and I had a great first season.

But now I train with a coach and won't turn back. Late last season after I committed to Ironman Canada 2011 a lot of people were asking me if I was going to get a coach. I was on the fence about it until someone who is a very experienced triathlete with a couple Ironman's under her belt asked me if I had a goal time in mind. She'd seen me race, but the time she pegged me at was an hour faster than the one I'd originally conjured up for IMC. I rationalized about it for a while and then realized I could reach that faster goal time if I spent a lot of time working out a very detailed 500hr/year plan for myself following Joe Friel's periodization methodology, or if I hired a coach to do it for me. At the end of the day I decided to leave the coaching/planning with a coach, and the training with the athlete, and I hired Todd Malcolm of No Limits Triathlon Coaching here in Calgary.

We sat down, went over my goals, went over my past results, and went over what my normal life schedule looked like. Then we worked 3 bikes, 3-4 runs, 3 swims, and a rest day into that schedule for a total of about 9-13 training hours per week. Every week I now receive my workouts through Training Peaks, and accordingly I upload to Training Peaks the bike/run data from my Garmin 310xt, along with whatever qualitative feedback I have on my performance for each workout.

Based on tests every 4-8 weeks, which could take the form of a B-race, or a time trial exercise during training, my coach establishes power or heart rate zones for me to train in. This is the core of what I mean by training smarter. If you follow a periodization plan like Joe Friel's you'll know that many months before your A races you'll be base building, when a lot of time will be spent in aerobic zones. Closer to race season base building turns to the Build Phase where you spend time between aerobic and anaerobic zones, basically getting faster. The zones I'm talking about (typically scaled 1-5) should be prescribed for each athlete by their coach depending on their individual fitness level, which in turn is established during the tests I just talked about. Zones should be prescribed in terms of heart rate, pace for the run, and watts for the bike if you train by power.

In summary a coach helps you train smarter by taking your goal races and breaking your season down into periods based on those goal races. During each period, your training should have a certain focus, and of course certain corresponding workouts. Those corresponding workouts should be done in certain zones based on your physical ability. If this sounds like a lot of detail, thats because it is, and when I decided I would take training seriously, I knew I could do this all myself but it was a question of how much time was I willing to dedicate towards learning how to train, versus actually just training. I value actual training time far more than learning to coach myself, and so I outsourced the coaching to a coach!

Training Harder

The risk that many endurance athletes face is falling into the trap of making your hard workouts too easy, and your easy workouts too hard. When you've got between 6 and 10 workouts a week this can lead to workouts where your body isn't well rested enough to perform at the level where it can make the significant anatomical and cardiovascular adaptations it needs to make you a stronger, better athlete. In this respect a coach can make you train harder by very specifically stating what zone you should be in for each workout.

If an active recovery workout your coach prescribes says you run for an hour in Zone 1 at a 5:15-5:30min/km pace, then keeping to that level is just as important as the next day's workout that says you're doing track intervals at 38sec/200m x 20. If you take a second and do the math you'll see that those are two very different paces, but thats what I mean by going easy when you're supposed to go easy, and going hard when you're supposed to go hard. It wasn't until my coach prescribed me variations like that that I realized how hard I could push myself when I was following a training plan designed to make me a better athlete.

The other side of training harder is consistency. I firmly believe that the age grouper has a tougher time being a better athlete than the pro simply because it's a pro's job to be a better athlete, its how they pay the bills. An age grouper will miss workouts because life or their actual job gets in the way, while a pro has the luxury of not having those excuses. But a coach offers a level of accountability that encourages you to manage your time better and ensure you aren't missing workouts unless you've got a pretty good reason. For the vast majority of age group triathletes, the key to improvement doesn't lie in track workouts or long sub-threshold intervals on the bike, the key to improvement is in consistency, consistency, consistency.


I think it was Lance Armstrong that said "the Tour de France isn't won in June, its won in January". I like this quote because it highlights the fact that its preparation and training months before competition that allows us to excel at our sport. A coach part resource, part mentor, and part drill sergeant and their number one job is to ensure that you have the mental and physical preparation to tap your full potential, get to that next level, and reach your goals. Thats why I believe anyone wishing to excel beyond their current abilities should take advantage of what they have to offer.

My next blog post will be Part II of this one, choosing the right coach for you.



Thursday, April 14, 2011

My Favourite Pieces of Bike and Running Gear

Now that race season is just around the corner I thought it would be prudent to write a blog post on some great pieces of equipment for multisport athletes. Triathlon is a relatively new sport and as such its very cutting edge and there are a lot of things to spend your money on, some are great investments and some are just a waste of money. I'd have to say the triathlete side of me is the gear junkie that uses carbon fiber, aero equipment, and a power meter to derive speed, whereas the roadie side of me is the side that just tells me to HTFU up the hill. What you should do is try and find a balance between the two.

So in ascending order of price, here are a few things that you should consider picking up new or used once you decide you want to commit to the sport (I'm not going to say things like goggles, helmet, or shoes, you know that already).

The little things that count

Body Glide- If I had to choose between rolling deoderant on or Body Glide on before a race I'd choose Body Glide 100% of the time. Deoderant makes everyone else more comfortable, Body Glide makes me more comfortable. You basically apply it to every conceivable point of friction on your body, in your shoes, back of your neck (where wetsuit zipper meets skin), and of course between/under your legs for the bike ride. Its also great to apply on top your wetsuit so when you pull it off, it slides a lot easier (Shirl came up with that one!). You can find this at any tri or run shop, and it comes in a roller format similar to deoderant.

Easy laces/lock laces/bungee laces- These can be life savers in the frantic chaos of transition between the bike and run. Rather having to tie your laces or do the classic "finger under heel stomp down because I'm too lazy to untie my shoes" move, elastic laces allow you to pull up the tongue of your shoe, slide your foot in, tug the lace, and be on your way. In the time it took you to read that sentence you'd literally have both your shoes on and be ready to go. Any tri shop will have these.

Number or Nutrition belt- A number belt is simply that, a belt with a clip that you put your number on. Its a beautifully simple piece of equipment that identifies the rookies from the veterans and keeps you from sticking safety pins into the same article of clothing you'll have rubbing against your body for a couple hours. A number belt also prevents you from having to listen to that piece of paper crinkling every time you move. Add some bottles on to the concept of a number belt and you have a nutrition belt which is an invaluable tool for gels/liquids/ipod on long training runs where you don't have the luxury of a supported course.

Okay, so how do I spend my tax return?

Garmin 305/310xt-This is my desert island piece of equipment that I hate to go without. the Garmin 305 is an obtuse looking wrist watch that you can pick the Garmin 305 up at MEC for $160. The beauty of it is that it is a GPS watch that can tell you your heart rate, speed, distance, time, cadence on the bike, etc etc. With the 305 you can basically forego the need for a bike computer since this does all that anyways. If you have a little more money to burn you can pick up the 310xt which you can wear swimming, and which will read the power data off an ANT+ power meter (more on that later). Both of them have multisport modes that allow you to swtich seamlessly from one sport to another in triathlon races.

Tri Suit- This is a great piece of clothing that can save a lot of time and hassle in transition. If you watch any of the ITU races you'll see that the athletes simply swim, bike, and run wearing the same article of clothing. Tri suits/shorts always have some degree of padding "down there" to make sure you're somewhat comfortable, however not so much padding that it feels like you're doing a 10k in a pair of huggies. In any race above 15C I can almost definitevely say that this is all you need to wear (except maybe a wetsuit depending on where you live).

Sunglasses- These are not luxuries, they are must necessities. It doesn't matter if you pick up a $20 set of Ryders or a $220 set of Oakleys, sunglasses are necessities on the bike for several reasons. First and foremost, if you crash the composite materials glasses are made of won't shatter in your eyes. I know that sounds dramatic but two years ago I endo'd pretty bad on a descent and ground my face into the pavement, my Oakleys were badly damaged, but my eyes weren't. Secondly, if you've ever got a bug in the eye at 30km/hr you'll know how scary that urgent need to get it out can be. Thirdly cycling glasses may reduce the glare of sun blindness which can cause you to lose sight of other riders and the course.

I'm not planning to save for retirement anyways, what do I buy?

CycleOps Powertap- Full disclosure, as you can see on the right hand side of my page, I'm sponsored by CycleOps. I recommend CycleOps powermeters because they're cheap and since they're hub mounted, you can switch them between bikes. As I talked about in one of my earlier blog posts, cycling with power will completely change how you ride. I'm not going to say much more about it but I'll tell you, if I had to choose between riding with an HR monitor and a power meter, power meter and I'd never look back.

New Bike- The formula for the number of bikes a cyclist should have is "s = n + 1" where "s" is the number of bikes the rider should have, and "n" is the number of bikes the rider already has. This can also be stated as "S = sn - 1" where "s" is the number of bikes they should have, and "sn" is the numerical constant at which the rider will be single if they buy another bike. If you only have a mountain bike, you should buy a road bike, if have a road bike and a mountain bike, you should get a tri bike, if you only have a tri bike maybe pick up a mountain bike... You get the picture.

So thats all for now, my next blog post will be a quick race report on the Police Half which I'll be running this Sunday. And my next post after that will either be on choosing the right bike for you, or choosing a good coach or training group. It depends on what strikes me first.

Anyways, stay warm everyone and I'm wishing especially good luck to anyone racing Boston, London, or the Calgary Police Half this weekend!



Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Yoga and Training

The benefits of yoga for athletes are well documented all over the internet and if you do a quick Google search you'll find tonnes of information about how yoga relieves pain, and improves core strength, flexibility, balance, and spatial awareness. I won't get into those benefits any more than that but I will share with you a little revelation I arrived at yesterday that hopefully will convince anyone on the fence about taking up yoga, that its a valuable way to spend you time. What I am going to talk about are the mental benefits that yoga can provide not only triathletes, but anyone leading a busy life.

Yesterday I had a track session of 5x1000's early in the day. For anyone who's done track workouts, you know its a hurt like few others. Track workouts are fast, turbulent, physically demanding, and can be incredibly challenging mentally even if for a few seconds or minutes at a time. Then in the evening I had a swim workout, which was one of my best swims I've had in a long time because it was the complete opposite of the track work. It was an incredible contrast. That swim was a calm, focused, graceful, and balanced, but it still provided me with a challenge. It struck me how much it was like doing yoga.

Preparing for a triathlon, even more so for an Ironman, is an incredibly demanding endeavor. The numbers range, but training can easily add anywhere from 5-15 hours of commitment to an age grouper's already busy schedule of work, family, and friends. The tendency when you try to juggle all your commitments is to allow one thing to creep into another. So when you're training you start to think about work, and when you're at work you're thinking about making dinner for the family, and when you're with your family you're thinking about the training you might have missed earlier in the week, and so on.

What yoga provides is a sense of mental focus that is difficult to find elsewhere. I find that one of yoga's greatest benefits is simply from the feel you get when you walk into class, the feel of the outside world being left behind at the door, a sensation some of us are challenged to duplicate in other circumstances. Just as track sessions should be used to improve top end speed even for long distance runners, yoga should be used to improve mental focus for endurance athletes. Its a fact that many athletes who practice yoga regularly are able to stay focused and relaxed even during high-intensity games or races.

In endurance events like Ironman, your coach will tell you straight up that when you get out of the water and get on the bike, if it feels like you're racing, then you're going too fast. I've had coaches tell me about how in the frantic chaos of transition they've had they're athletes leave transition with their helmets on backwards, I've seen people fall off their bike when they're barely on it, and I've had far too many fellow racers push too hard on the bike only to blow up on the run be it in a sprint triathlon or an Ironman. In each of those examples what is chronically absent is the focus and calm that should prevail on a day where you need to be in absolute control of your mind and body. I used to climb quite a bit and one thing I always said to newcomers was that "slow is smooth, and smooth is fast". There is nothing fast about a lack of focus.

My favorite part of yoga class is almost always the Savasana, where you lie down for 10-15 minutes at the end of class while your brain calms, your body relaxes, tissues and organs repair themselves, and you release any mental tension you may have built up. I find that calmness feel great and it usually sticks with me into my next few training sessions until my next yoga tune-up.

Here's a great example of how yoga helped athletes in another sport focus and keep cool when it came down to gut check time. During the Chicago Bulls' 1997-1998 preseason training camp, the basketball players had scheduled yoga workouts every day after regular practice. Their yoga instructor's goal was to not only improve their physical capabilities, but also achieve a more relaxed mental state. According to the Yoga Journal website, the instructor's hard work seemed to pay off. After losing the first game of the championship series that year, Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls seemed relatively unconcerned. When asked about his calm demeanor, he responded, "I just decided to use a little bit of Zen Buddhism and relax; instead of being frustrated, I just smiled, channeled my thoughts and let the game flow." (reference, Livestrong- The Best Yoga for Athletes).

Thanks for reading I hope you found this post valuable and please let me know if you have any questions or comments.


Sunday, April 3, 2011

Branding, Sports, and Sponsorship, Part IV: Bringing it all Together

I was perusing the Slowtwitch forums the other day and someone asked what they should do to increase their exposure and hopefully attract some sponsors. I posted a link to my blog and it seems a lot of people read what I had to say.

Tom Demerly of TriSports, a major online triathlon retailer, had a few succinct words on how to get sponsorship that I'll share unedited here.

When an athlete approaches our sponsorship coordinator with a proposal that includes things like, "I got 100,000 exposures by getting a feature article about me printed in the lifestyle section of the local newspaper, I coach 15 athletes, teach spinning at the local health club and have an active blog with frequent, regular readers." we want to hear more about an athlete like that. They are a candidate.

Bottom line: We're hiring you to advertise. Why should we hire you?

It isn't about victories or race results, it's about exposure. Some of our top atheltes aren't Kona winners, but they are at every public appearance event, they are at every clinic, they are on their Facebook page four times a day and on internet forums every day. Then, they come back to us with specific examples of their exposure: "I have 5,000 Facebook friends who see my posts, I tweet from every event. I put on a charity bike event to get bikes for underprivleged kids and got press coverage for it- here it is..."

It isn't about races and results- unless you win Ironman. That is the only race that counts from a sports marketing viewpoint in this sport. Here is an example:

Do a Google search on the woman ranked as the number 1 female tennis player according to Wikipedia, Chris Evert: 544,000 results.
Now, do a Google search on doubles tennis player Anna Kournikova, a 6 time tennis doubles champion: 10,440,000 results. Ten million results compared to a half million. Who would you sponsor?"

For the record, the marketing company of which I am a partner, redlime marketing, provides in kind sponsorship to the TriCommitment Team of Jordan Bryden and Janelle Morrison. But in terms of big money sponsorship, its worthwhile to heed the words of a guy like Tom.

If I had to leave you with one thought from all the four posts in this blog series, it would be, know your audience. If your audience is a large online retailer like TriSports, or a big brand like Newton, 2XU, Cervelo, then your work is cut out for you and Tom's laid it out pretty well there. If your audience is a small local retailer, then think about what they're needs are, who their market is, what they can offer you in terms of product or sponorship, and in return what you can provide them in terms of exposure. If you're realistic about your expectations and are smart about how you market yourself, then you're on the right track.

Anyways, thats all for this series and if there is anything you'd like me to talk about specifically in future posts, feel free to let me know.