My Doc Hollywood Moment

I call it my Doc Hollywood moment. If you're not familiar with the movie (it is from 1991, after all) the short synopsis is this: Med student in NY has plans to be a plastic surgeon in Hollywood. Sports cars, expensive home, etc. Encounters an unplanned detour, during the drive across country, where he falls for a simpler life in a small town. Yeah, he falls for a girl too, but you get the picture.

He realized he was happier with less - and didn't need all the material things as he thought he did.

Cut to: Back in the summer of 2011, my wife JL and I were having a somewhat existential conversation about our future. What did we want to be doing when we were 75 years old? We weren't retiring when we were 62, to be sure. Did I want to be locked in a beige office, working for some dusty old guy in a corner office until then? Or did I want to be doing something I enjoyed? Something that was satisfying for me, as well as doing good and right by other people? JL was doing just that; making changes to her career and starting her own consulting business.

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Perfecting Your Swim Stroke For Efficiency & Economy

Racing season is upon us. My athletes are - just after this past weekend - into full racing mode. With that, the demand from triathletes to hone and enhance their swim strokes is going up.

Swimming is perhaps the most mechanically dependent discipline in triathlon. Not that running and cycling aren’t without their mechanics and efficiency, but nowhere do you find such a direct relation to economy of stroke, mechanical efficiency, and speed. That being said, having a clean, efficient, and strong pull phase of the swim stroke is one of the most important things to focus on in the swim. Now, I'm certainly not discounting body position, head position, and other aspects of the stroke. But for now, let's just focus on the pull phase of the stroke as this is where the majority of the propulsion is derived. Maximizing the energy spent in this phase of the stroke is critical to the economy we can build into the swim.

What do I look for? First and foremost, a quick catch phase. This is the phase of the stroke, immediately after your hand enters the water, that you’re starting the stroke and “grabbing” water. The catch needs to happen quickly – removing a long glide phase from the stroke cycle. Why? In open water, there's too much cavitation of water from other swimmers around you. The goal is to catch water that isn't moving (or at least not moving as quickly as you) to help provide maximum propulsion. 

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Full Time Coaching: What I've Learned From Following My Passion

I just wrapped up a pre-season triathlon camp this past weekend. I partnered with another triathlon coach here in Colorado Springs, and we had a great weekend with the athletes in attendance. Multiple swim sessions at the Olympic Training Center, bike handling and skills, run mechanics, great presentations on swim mechanics, periodization, training & recovery. A busy, full weekend.

As I began my own recovery from the weekend, I started to prep for the week ahead. As I looked at my calendar I was reminded that I have a high school swim team meeting later in the week. It struck me, then, that I've actually achieved the goal that JL (my wife) and I set out to accomplish a few years back.

As some of you know, I've been a professional coach for a number of years. But back in 2012, I put corporate America behind me and, along with JL, we changed our careers to follow our passions and run our own businesses. I started Podium Training Systems in 2011, and after a couple years of scrambling, here I am. Yes, I had been coaching prior to that, but 2011-2012 was when I decided that coaching was going to be my full-time career.

Back to my thoughts that struck me today. I still can't believe that this is what I now do for a living: 

  • Founder of Podium Training Systems
  • Coach and founder of Podium Swimming
  • Head coach to 14 individual triathletes (including one Xterra AG World Champ).
  • Head coach of the Discovery Canyon High School boys swim team (who thought I'd ever be coaching H.S. sports!?)
  • Head coach of the DCC Cross Country Team
  • Assistant summer / long course coach for CSST Aquatics (a local, high performance, swim club)
  • Coach instructor and educator for US Masters Swimming
  • Education webinar presenter for USA Triathlon
With Brian Fleischmann_small.jpg

It's a little hectic at times. Travel schedules to teach at coaching clinics sometimes mean I leave Friday night, get home Sunday night, and am up first thing on Monday morning. The high school swim season is a frenetic, time-consuming three months. I'm fried come the end of May, but I love every minute of it.

Sure, I live and die by spreadsheets and the tracking of income streams. I'm buying health insurance, (that used to just come with the job automatically) as well as liability insurance. I've learned quite a bit as I went along. And I'm still learning every day - how to do things more efficiently, and effectively. When you work for yourself, every minute counts.

It's surprising, and funny, how I initially thought I'd have all this extra time to train, and have spare time that I didn't have before. That couldn't be farther from the truth. I train much less than I used to, as all my time is focused on my athletes, and building training plans, planning the next triathlon camp, or scheduling time to be away for a few days to present at a swim coaching and stroke clinic. I haven't raced nearly as much as I used to, but again - I'm focused on other things......

I'm 100% dedicated to my athletes now. My focus is on their performance and results. It's a good place to be as a coach. And this is an amazing place to be in regards to my career. Doing what you love as a full-time job. Forget retiring when I'm 65. I can do this for a while.

Most importantly, I couldn't have done it without JL. Her support during this process has been amazing. There were some rough patches during the beginning, when I really didn't know how things were going to work out. We worked together, figured things out, and stuck to our plan of pursuing our dream jobs.

Follow your passion. Do what you love. Success will come.


Becoming a Coach

Is it really Ironman vs USAT ?

I received an email from an athlete / coach that I know. They're USAT Level 1 certified, and they're currently going through the Ironman University offering. The individual in question was quite emphatic about how USAT failed them in their coach certification, and how the Ironman program was superior. 

As our email chain went back and forth, I was told that the Ironman program was more in-depth. That the USAT program only allowed them to learn small portions of periodization. That there aren't enough people racing ITU for USAT to spend time focusing on it. Stating that the testing process for USAT certification was lacking.

Now, I'm not saying that USA Triathlon, or any other national governing body, is better than another in regards to coach certification and education. I'm also not saying that any one singular coaching clinic, once attended and the test passed, makes you a good coach.

That's right. Just going to a clinic, and passing the test, doesn't make you a good coach. It's what you do with that information moving forward that matters. It's how you continue your education that makes a difference. It's seeking out information and working with other coaches with more experience to help you grow professionally.

I'm a coach instructor for US Masters Swimming. I've had USAT level 1 coaches come up after a clinic and state how the session on writing workouts for differing energy systems was really helpful - that it wasn't covered enough in their Level 1 coaching clinic. That might be true, but the truth is you can't cover everything in granular detail in any one coaching clinic. I've had another individual tell me that the Masters coaching clinic was too easy and didn't cover everything in enough detail. Again, what are you doing with the information you learned? Are you taking the details of writing a workout for the anaerobic system and applying it to your athletes? Are you expanding upon the base premise of how those workouts are created, and making your own? Or better yet, are you taking that base level of information and seeking out more data to help you grow your knowledge base?

I've been a professional coach for 6 years. Do I know everything I need to know because I'm USA Triathlon, USA Cycling, USA Swimming / ASCA, and US Masters certified? Not even close. I am constantly learning. It never stops. Heck, most NGB's require that you continue to learn, and enhance your coaching education, to maintain your certification.

It's not all about what you learn in a clinic. It's what you do with the information that you learn.

Off Season Training - I want to hear from you

Over the past few months I've written about a number of topics:

All great topics (at least I think so!) But as we near the end of the current season, and enter the dreaded "off-season" I want to write about topics that matter to you.

So, what do you want to know? What challenges do you face during the off-season that I can help address? What questions do you want answered? Add a comment - ask a question, and over the next couple of weeks I'll respond to them all in my next blog post.

So, hit me with your best shot.