Friday, December 27, 2013

Reflection of Coaching over the years

What a journey over the several years.  In the past two years my coaching practise has grown immensely, and all by word of mouth.  I have over 35 athletes currently, and continue to take on more folks. 

I have had some amazing experiences with my athletes over the years, but the last two years have been extremely rewarding.  As an athlete, confidence is built through training and racing.  Racing is feedback to how the training is progressing.  As a coach, the build of confidence is no different.  An athlete puts a lot of trust into a coach.  This is a responsibility I take very seriously.  As an athlete, it was always very important to me that my coach took my goals very seriously, and understood what I required to succeed.  As a coach, I strive to understand my athletes’ goals, their areas of strengths and areas where they need to improve; I feel it is my responsibility to always be honest and direct with my athletes.  I have an amazing group of athletes who have performed very well over the last two years, and most well beyond their own expectations. 

Someone suggested I spotlight a few accomplishments of some athletes over the past several years.  So here it goes.

Michael Parker- I started coaching Michael in June, 2010.  Michael had been running for several years and had run a few marathons.  Michael ran his first marathon under my coaching in September 2010.  He did not run a personal best but did run his fastest time in five years.  He ran 3:46:26.  In April 2011, Michael ran 3:19:05.  Michael was very skeptical at first with my approach to training.  Between these two races, he began to follow my training program for him with very little deviation.  In October 2012, Mike ran 3:05:10, and in October 2013, Mike ran 2:52:32 on the same course.  Mike never ever thought he would break 3 hours.  By the way, Mike is in his late 40s.

Mike not only performed well at the marathon distance but posted some pretty impressive improvements over the half marathon and 10 km distances.  In March 2011, Mike ran 43:35 for a 10 km and in September 2013, he ran a 10km in 36:18.  His half marathon performance went from a time of 1:36:42 in August 2011 to a time of 1:21:45 in June 2013.

Ryan Murray- I have coached Ryan for a very long time.  I am guessing that I have coached him since around 2005.  Ryan not only improved his 10km times from 40 min to 35 min under my coaching, but has also posted two great performances doing Ironman.  Both Ironman events Ryan did were in Penticton.

In Ryan’s first Ironman in August 2008, he was 4th in his age category and 53rd overall. Splits were: Swim 55:17; Bike 5:17:18; and Run 3:31:09 for a total time of 9:48:30.

Ryan's second go at the Ironman resulted in a time of 9:16:03 for an 8th overall finish, 2nd overall age grouper and winner of his age group.  His splits were Swim 57:05, T1 1:31, Bike 5:06, T2 2:28 and Run 3:07

Geoff Hophner- I started working with Geoff back in 2005.  At that time he was former swimmer turned triathlete.  Geoff had the determination to run fast.  Our journey has taken us from Geoff running around 40 minutes for a 10km to a personal best time of 33:45 at the Vancouver Sun Run in April 2013.  Geoff also set marathon personal best of 2:37 at the 2010 California International Marathon.

Ashley Turgeon- I started coaching Ashley sometime in mid-2012.  Ashley had been a drop in runner to my group for about 6 months.  In 2012, Ashley hired me as her coach to help her improve her bike and run.  This would be Ashley’s second Ironman.  Under my guidance she was able to shave 65 minutes off her previous time.

Ashley went on to run Chicago marathon several weeks post the Ironman and ran time of 3:37:39.  In November 2013, Ashley ran a huge personal best time at the New York Marathon in a time of 3:16:10.  WOW!

Dr. Chris Hankins- I started coaching Chris in January 2013.  He had a personal best time of around 3:45 when he started with me.  Chris ran 2013 Los Angeles marathon in 3:24:22 and the 2013 Chicago Marathon in 3:05:59Amazing!

Dr. Bradley Jacobs- I started coaching Brad in December 2010.  Brad had run a couple of marathons prior to being coached by me: Edmonton, August 22, 2010 in 3:56:06 and
Seattle, November 28, 2010 in 3:36:00.  Brad ran the 2011 Calgary Marathon in 3:19:45 and the 2011 Victoria Marathon in 3:17:24.  Brad also ran the 2012 Boston Marathon in a time of 3:26:12.

Heather Wiebe- Heather is a very experience runner.  I started coaching her in May 2011.  Heather has run a 2:54 marathon when she was in her late 20’s.  Heather is 50 years of age.  In Sacramento in 2010 she ran a 3:22 marathon.  Since starting with me she has performed exceedingly well despite aging along the way. In the 2012 Portland marathon Heather ran 3:15:14. In the 2013 Boston Marathon she ran 3:18:43.  In the 2013 Portland marathon she crossed the line to an amazing time of 3:10:43.

Dr. Laura Brescia- I started coaching Laura in June 2012.  She came to me with a Marathon time of 3:44.  Laura has run three marathons since joining: 2012 Victoria Marathon in 3:39, 2013 Boston Marathon in 3:40, and 2013 CIM in 3:36:51.

Other great performances of athletes over the past couple of years include:

Rosemarie Gerspacher - finished 18th female at the 2012 Chicago Marathon in a time of 2:47:25. Top Canadian female!

Kim Young- I have coached Kim off and on for a number of years.  Kim is a very accomplished triathlete.  This year Kim ran personal best times in both the 10 km and Half Marathon distances.

Mike Barr- Joined in October 2012 with a marathon time of 3:24.  In October 2013 he ran a 3:17:34 marathon.

Morgan Wittstock- joined in March 2013.  She posted a time of 3:20:29 in her first road marathon in Kelowna.  She was 8th female and first in 20-29 age group.

In July 2013, Ryan Graham and Lindsey Snyder joined to train for Kelowna marathon.  They both ran to personal best times.  Ryan ran 3:24:47 which was a 27 minute PB!   Lindsey ran 3:26:59 and we targeted 3:25 and that was a 21 minute personal best and a Boston Qualifier.

Dan Killick- I started coaching Dan in October 2012.  He had just completed his first Ironman in Penticton where he posted a time of 10:59:02.  Dan came from a very competitive swim background.  His desire was to improve his running and biking.  In August 2013, Dan competed in Ironman Mont-Trembling and finished in a time of 10:32:25.  He shaved 16 minutes off his bike time and 9 minutes off his run time.

Stephanie Mills- a very experienced runner transitioning to the marathon, ran to a 3:07:34 finish in her second marathon at the 2013 New York Marathon.

There are many more athletes I have not mentioned who performed exceedingly well in this past year.  I cannot wait to see what they do in the upcoming season.  

I could not be more proud!  As an athlete myself, I have had a lot of success.  I can honestly say that being able to share my experiences with those I coach has been very rewarding.  It is the best job one can have.  The rewards are endless!

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

New York New York

Ashley Turgeon ran to a Personal Best of 3:16:10 which is a 21 minute improvement in her time over Chicago last year.

Stephanie Mills ran to a 3:07:34 finish in her second marathon.  When she tunes in this distance, watch for a sub 2:50.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Marathon Results from Athletes over the Thanksgiving weekend


Chris Hankins ran 3:05:59 and his ticket to Boston.  Our casual attendee Lindsay Manning ran 3:02.

Here is what Chris had to say about his race:

Obviously- best race ever. Can't begin to express how happy I am with the the program and the results speak for themselves. Here's the breakdown:

First off- Chicago Marathon was the best organized race I have ever entered hands down. From the race packet pickup (no lines whatsoever) to the pre- race corrals (again no lines whatsoever at the porta potties) to the water stations, to the crowds and the music along the way. As far as major races go to not have to bus out to some remote location and sit around for 5 hours- and have many hotel options within 2 k walk from the start line. I would encourage everyone looking for a great race experience and a PR to look at this race. Weather- which obviously cannot be controlled- was perfect today as well.

So my race:

I used the Western Australia carb loading protocol on the day before the race and then followed your recommendations for race morning nutrition and gel/hydration strategy during the race (I wonder if all of my team mates know how to convert the grams/pound formulae into an actual morning meal?) The only thing I added was salt (1 salt tab with each gel). Can't remember if we discussed this but it's worked for me before and I learned my lesson the hard way in Maui. Felt bad for the poor souls walking and stretching out their cramps with only 5 k left to go.

I found there was huge value from those race simulation workouts. The whole idea of push then cruise then push really defined my day. The start of Chicago goes under some bridges so GPS readings were off. I had to really focus on how I was feeling- comfortable, relaxed breathing, good posture and easy turnover and trust that I was in the right zone.  As I passed the 5,10, and 15 k clocks I noticed I was a bit faster than target but honestly felt smooth and relaxed so just held the pace. When I passed the half marathon point (actually a PR half marathon as well) I made the conscious decision to pull up a bit. Too much on the line with a BQ to risk blowing up. Just past this I had the slightly surreal experience of watching a 3:00, two 3:05 and a 3:10 pace leader all running side by side just steps ahead of me. Not gonna lie- that messed with my mind a bit trying to calculate where I was at. At this point I was reflecting on the value of the controlled pace workouts we do (yes, sadly these are the deep thoughts that go through my mind during a race) and I knew that all I needed to do was focus on my own relaxed posture and turnover.

Things started to hurt a bit in the mid to late 20's, but it was just race pain, nothing that felt injured. I took my last gatorade at around 32k knowing I had adequately hydrated and fueled throughout the race. As is typical for me, 30-36 took a lot of focus. Pain is increasing but it still seems like a long way from the finish. Once I hit 36 my mind says I can run a 6K in my sleep so I just tightened up and focussed on turnover. This last stretch is where you see lots of carnage for races gone wrong. This is where you know that your training and sticking to your race plan are serving you well.

Of the marathons I've run, I will say that this is the best I've ever felt in the last 6k. It's also the most I've limped once I was 100 feet past the finish line. I think that's a good sign that I spent most of what I had today, but there are faster things to come.

I shaved 23 minutes from my marathon in 9 months. Absolutely surpassed anything I thought I could do. Next stop 2:59:59. Can't thank you enough. 


Morgan Wittstock 8th female and first in 20-29 in time of 3:20:29 in her first road marathon. Right on the goal target time.

In their second marathons: Ryan Graham ran 3:24:47 which is 27 minute PB! Lindsay Snyder 3:26:59 and we targeted 3:25 and that is a 21 minute PB.  She is super excited for the Boston Qualifier.

Here is what Ryan said about his race:

I was right on pace for the first half and was feeling good. Second half was tough but I powered through for a 3:24:47. A 27 minute improvement over my previous marathon and even with the slower second half, my total pace was faster than my half pace time in Calgary this spring.

Morgan's comments:

Thanks so much for a great season. I am so happy with how it went yesterday and during the 50km and a lot of that was thanks to the confidence training has given me. I stuck to my splits and I knew I could!

I'm excited to keep going! Calgary next year and we'll see what else. 


Mike Barr 3:17:34 and a PB by 7 minutes.

Note from Mike:

Considering the hills on the course I’m happy with the time.  I followed your race prep instructions exactly.  Legs actually felt good today except on the last couple of hills, then they started to hurt a bit.  I wrote the 5k splits on my arm and followed them.  You said to keep the 5k pace between 22.55 and 23.20 and in the end I average 23.25 (I was actually in the 22.55 range for most of the race).  I hit 35km right on my goal pace of 2hr 41, then started to die on the last couple of big hills coming into the finish.  The last 7km were a shift kick in the junk and will serve as motivation to work much harder next time.  In the end I got 3.17.34 which is 9 minutes better than Calgary.  Lots of things to celebrate and lots of things to learn for the next race which will be Boston in April.  Qualified!

Thanks for your coaching. You probably get tired of hearing it, but you’re awesome.

People ask me why I coach, and the answer is simply to instill the confidence in people to perform in ways they thought were not possible.  I love that responsibility.  I teach people how to execute and the biggest reward is the outcome of that.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

October Marathon Madness is here!

Mike Parker does it again, here is what he had to say about his St. George Marathon:

I am super excited about the results, even though I could have done better.

Finish time was 2:52:32

At the start, it was very cold, and windy.  I was really struggling to stay warm, and I had a hard time warming up.

Even though I started near the front, it was very crowded, and the pace was slow.  I wanted to run a 4:05 pace to start, but I struggled to do so.  First 10 km was over 41 minutes.  At the half way point, I was a little over 1:28:00 (way too slow).  The second half I completed in under 1:24.  The last 10.2 km, I completed in 40:28.  I finished very strong, and passed many people in the last 2 km.  I felt very tired at the end, but great.  No cramping or pain.  I was thrilled!  I was so excited walking back to my hotel, I kept running to run back instead of walk.

I am very proud of the progression I have made.  I started working with you on 4-Jun-2010.

Here are the marathon results since we started.

Top of Utah marathon    18-Sep-2010     3:46:25
Salt Lake City marathon 16-Apr-2011     3:22:21
Mesa falls marathon     27-Aug-2011     3:48:36
Windermere Marathon     19-May-2012     3:13:50
St George marathon      06-Oct-2012     3:05:36
Boston marathon         15-Apr-2013     3:10:51

I almost improved one hour since the 2010 race. Today, I improved my personal best by 13 min and 4 seconds.  That is fantastic.  I am also extremely pleased that I finished strong, and felt ok at the end.  That is a real progression for me.

I am so proud to have run a sub 3 hour marathon.

I have been very diligent in following your program you laid out, and the results are amazing.

Thanks coach.

Heather Wiebe pushed our her fastest marathon in 25 years!  Here is what she had to say about her race in Portland:

I am delighted with my is the fastest marathon I have run since B.C.    ( before children) and years before that!! 18 years u think!? It is a pb BC!! So your magic is working!

I will be 50 in 2014 so I am still gunnin' to run another sub 3:00....,just 25 years later!

The weather was race order perfect but the course IS tough - tons of undulating hills and bridges - hard to get a rhythm. However I achieved my goal and that the inspiration for another.

So many thanks for your brilliant coaching, planning and patience!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Dan Killick's Race Report Ironman Canada 2013

First off, this is my unofficial plug for anyone wanting to do an Ironman distance race to consider Mt. Tremblant.  The vibe, energy and setting of this race were unbelievable.  Just as impressive was the community support and the week long show put on by the residents and the Village of Tremblant.  The entire week was really about the athletes and we were all made to feel like rock stars in the days leading up to and following the race.


This was my second Ironman distance race and I went into the race feeling very fit and confident that I would have a great day and a new best time. I knew that my swim and bike would be strong and that the run would be a bit of an unknown due to an injury which had prevented me from doing very much running for five weeks prior to the race.  I was really looking forward to race day, the cannon going off and the waiting to be over.

Swim 54:50

As a general comment I really enjoyed this swim. I parked myself front and centre of the line and had a great start, swimming just to the left of the buoys until encountering the back end of the age group in front of us (wave start) which had left 3 minutes ahead of my age group.  I found this a little chaotic so moved to the right and swam inside the buoys which left me with lots of open water, just the way I like it.  After the turn around I noticed that the water was quite choppy with some swells which, if timed right, you could surf which was kind of fun and something to do on the way back to the beach. I felt really strong and relaxed throughout the swim with a nice easy tempo as I came into the beach, right on the same time as last year but with much less effort.

T1 5:35

I was a little worried about the 400m run from the lake to T1 but found it to be one of the highlights of the race.  After you come out of the lake and have your wetsuit stripped you get to run down the “red carpet” which is lined with spectators all cheering you on.  Not only was this energizing but it helped get the blood moving and my legs felt better than they usually do for the start of the bike.

Bike 5:32

I worked hard on my biking this year and it is starting to pay off!  On the first loop I felt like I was riding on the edge of what I could maintain for the entire ride.  My legs were feeling good but I was a little hesitant to ride much harder for fear of a long and painful second loop and a potential death march of a marathon afterwards.  This meant I had to let a few groups (drafting is stupid) pass me and stick to my own plan which was hard at times.  Much to my surprise on the second loop my legs felt great.  My energy level was high and I felt very positive, never experiencing any of the “darkness” or negative thoughts which I experienced last year.  As the second loop wore on I managed to pass several groups of riders who had passed me on the first loop, I rode into T2 feeling good. 
Nutrition on the bike was spot on, remember when you are feeling good, eat, and you will keep feeling good. For variety I like to mix it up a little: CarboPro mixed with Perform, Stinger Waffles, Stinger Gels, Perform and of course a Snickers bar.

T2 2:28

T2 Was a bit of a blur as I handed off my bike to a volunteer and made a mad dash to the change tent.  It always feels so good to get off the bike. Not much to mention here, socks, hat, sunscreen, fuel belt, get moving.

Run 3:57

Ah the run.  My approach to the run was to run conservatively and to see what would happen.  All things considered it went well and I felt good but wasn’t able to get the turnover I needed to run the pace I wanted. Halfway, my split was 1:50 which had felt easy but I could tell that the back half was going to be tough. After kilometer 22 I started to feel quite strong again had 10-12 really good kilometers.  The last 8k was tough, as it is for everyone.  It was great to see so many friends out there on the course and to cheer each other on. 

Overall, this was a great race! Not only did I get a PB by close to 30 minutes but I learned a tonne along the way.  First of all I learned that choppy water (swells) can be really fun during the swim, don’t dread them; embrace them.  Second, on the bike a Snickers really satisfies.  Third, if you want to race at this distance you have to stay engaged in what you are doing and maintain that level of awareness throughout the race.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Crank Arm Size? Is bigger better?

The other day I got asked the question on the sizing of crank arms.  The individual who asked me the question was a tall female with a 914 mm inseam.  I honestly did not know the answer to the question.  She went on to say that someone she knew who was tall with a longer inseam switched to a longer crank arm and it increased their power.  I got very curious.  I always become extremely curious when someone states a singular item for the reason their power increases.  My experience, as an athlete and a coach, tells me that a singular item is seldom the result.  

I started to read on the topic.  What I did know about crank arm length included:
  • Crank arms influence cadence and the leverage you can exert on the pedals.  I think this is obvious.
  • Longer crank arms are generally used for pushing large gears at low cadence.  Long crank arms are used for time trialing and climbing hills.  You would have longer crank arms on a mountain bike for better leverage in climbing.
  • Shorter crank arms are generally used for higer cadenece with smaller gears.  Short crank arms are used for track sprints and criteriums.

What I did not know is how complicated the debate on crank arm length is.  There are many schools of thought.  I concluded that whoever comes up with the formula for proper crank arm length will be a very rich person, and will change the bicycle industry forever.

Blindly changing your crank arm length can lead to a whole lot of problems / issues.  It changes positioning on the bike.  Saddle height would likely have to change, and possibly the stem.  If all factors are not considered, injury and a decrease in power may actually result.  What is important to understand is for every increment you lengthen the crank, your knee is double that increment closer to you torso as you start to apply power to the pedals at the top dead center. 

Here are some links on the topic.  It is interesting reading.