For the first two years of my triathlon “career,” I toiled on my own. I had no idea what I was doing. No coach equaled no clue. I trained for an hour every other day, thinking I needed a full day to recover for every workout I finished. If you had asked me to complete a brick workout, I probably would have drowned after tying a string and a piece of cinder block to my leg and attempting to swim for 500 yards.
I joined Fortius Coaching after a series of back-of-the-pack finishes in the sprint and Olympic triathlon distance. If improved performance is the goal, I was failing. I needed guidance to understand how to improve. I almost dismissed joining Fortius in favor of a more famous online coaching program. The allure of purchasing a power meter and getting a series of DVDs almost was too much to resist. However, I knew that my issue wasn’t with training, buying the right equipment or hard work. No, I needed a group of people to train with, learn from, be inspired by, and compete with. Completing an online training program in isolation doesn’t compare to training and racing with a group of people who become more than competitors or training partners, but real friends. Some of my teammates even attended my wedding in 2011.
I never expected that when I first considered joining a triathlon team.
But that is what I found by joining Fortius. The best part of joining a triathlon team has been the friendships that have formed. If I had to break it down further, I think there are four primary benefits to joining a team:
Coaching: This may seem obvious at first, but coaching itself can’t be underestimated. I’ve personally seen large improvements over the past few seasons from consistent coaching with Fortius. I’m confident I wouldn’t have seen those gains by training myself. I’ve been with the team since late 2009, and Richard Nguyen and his wife, Ann, have been Fortius Coaching clients for even longer. Richard said despite living on the Westside (in close proximity to several local triathlon clubs), he prefers driving the extra miles to the San Fernando Valley to train with a group that’s fun, responsible and driven. He also appreciates how Coach Gerardo Barrios stays abreast of all the latest triathlon trends and certifications to help clients reach their goals. “(Gerardo) actually trains and races with us, plus he’s fast so you have a leader who can walk the walk,” Nguyen said.
In 2013, Fortius Racing Team had 15 athletes racing at the Great Race of Agoura. This is a typical scene at local races. The team also travels to events and last year made St. George 70.3, June Lake Triathlon, and Ironman Arizona as team events. You can never underestimate the feeling you get when seeing your teammates on the race course. This year, look for a big number of Fortius athletes at Bandit Trail Race, Oceanside 70.3, Great Race of Agoura, St. George 70.3, Vineman 70.3, Ironman Canada, Silverman 70. 3 and Ironman Arizona.
The 2014 Ironman 70.3 in Oceanside was targeted as my first Half Ironman a long time ago, I don’t remember exactly but it was at least 9 months. Once I finished the Santa Barbara Long Course in August I began to focus my thoughts on this race. This was going to be my first shot at a HIM and I really wanted to do well. None of this, "I just want to finish crap". I wanted to race and perform at Oceanside. In order to do this I knew I needed to make a big change to my training, one that would require me to not skip Strength Training anymore. I had learned to be okay with red boxes in Training Peaks for strength workouts, but I had come to learn, from experience, that late in the race I would need the strength to fight off fatigue, cramps and general doubt. So I committed myself to two strength sessions a week from August to March. I immediately felt the difference as I was stronger in all my races during the winter and had the strength to finish races, something I lacked in 2013. Leading up to Oceanside I had very strong workouts in my final bricks. I was doing excellent on the bike and then just hammering it on the runs. I felt so strong and my confidence was sky high. Because of this I was not nervous at all or experiencing any of the common pre-race freak outs. I was calm and confident that I not only earned my place at the starting line but I was there to show off my months of hard work. There are no secrets in this sport, if you want to race well you need to train and train hard. In addition to all the hard work leading up to the race I put together, along with the help of my coach, a race plan detailing everything starting with my day before the race, including meals and amount of sleep, all the way through to crossing the finish line. I printed out this report and took it with me, reading it over before dinner Friday night, before I went to bed Friday night and once more while eating breakfast on race morning.
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more about Gerardo
January 26, 2014 Fortius/SMMC Bike Maintenance Clinic
February 1, 2014 Sean O'Brien Trail Race Fortius Coaching Aid StationFebruary 16, 2014 Bandit Ultra Trail Races
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