April 24th, 2016 by Katie Whidden USAT certified coach

It’s that time of the year when most athletes will sit down to write goals for the next year. The first step in the process should be to take a look back at the season that just ended and analyze what worked and what didn’t work. You should have a good idea of what your strengths and weaknesses were. Most athletes mistakenly think that improving their biking ability, even if that is their strength, is the easiest way for them to improve their overall time. Unfortunately, this is usually not the case. Of course coaching can help prevent this situation because they will ensure you work to improve your weakest of the disciplines.

Goals should be process focused and not outcome focused. A good goal should not be impacted by external factors. No one has control over a goal that can be determined by weather or who is competing in the race. An example of a good race goal is patience. This could mean that you will focus on appropriately pacing yourself during the first half of an ironman bike, even when all your competitors are flying by.

After you create a list of possible races and have thought about some realistic but challenging goals then you can start putting together the specific steps you will take to achieve this. If your overall goal is to improve your half iron time by 15 minutes then you need to determine what you need to work on in the off season to accomplish this. This might mean early morning strength sessions, increasing your swim frequency in December and January, or training with a power meter to better realize gains on the bike.

Most importantly write the goals down! Writing goals down forces you to clearly define and clarify them. According to Dave Kohl, professor emeritus at Virginia Tech, 80% of Americans don’t have goals, 16% do have goals, but don’t write them down and less than 1% actually review them on an ongoing basis. Actually putting the goals onto paper and reviewing them at least quarterly will help you accomplish new levels of success in the upcoming season.

Fall Coaching Special

October 30th, 2015 by Katie Whidden USAT certified coach

Purchase 3 months of coaching before December 31st, 2012 and get your 4th month free.

Congratulations to AM Athletes Showing Great Gains at the GR Tri!

June 24th, 2013 by Katie Whidden USAT certified coach

After several months of hard work this winter and spring several Athletic Mentors athletes achieved their goals at the Grand Rapids Triathlon. Commitment, discipline and perseverance pay off! Congratulations!


Danielle Nye placed 1st in the 25-29 age group


Mike Steele had a 42 minute PR(personal record) for the Half Iron distance, accomplishing his goal time for the day


Jeff Towner had a PR over his results at the Grand Rapids half iron a year ago

A Swim Workout to Beat the Boredom of the Pool

April 8th, 2013 by Katie Whidden USAT certified coach

With the lakes finally starting to thaw, we are weeks behind last season in getting out in that open water to prepare for our first triathlon. For most of us, this means more time staring at lines at the bottom of the pool. A good way to spice up your pool time is to mix up your workouts and try some new ones. Here is one of my favorites. Try to incorporate some of the drills you know for stroke correction right after the warm-up and before the main set.

We call this workout the “BELCO 500”


Warm Up: 200 swim, 100 kick, 150 pull

Drills: 200 of drills of your choice

Main Set: Do this set once for a beginner, 2-3 if intermediate and 4-6 for advanced triathletes.

Swim 500 broken down as follows:

1. Swim 100 where the 4th 25 is a sprint
2. Swim 100 where the 3rd 25 is a sprint
3. Swim 100 where the 2nd 25 is a sprint
4. Swim 100 where the 1st 25 is a sprint
5. Swim all out, 100 yards

Rest 30 seconds before starting the next set of 500

10X25 All out kick w/15s rest

Cool Down: 200 swim easy



Consistency Builds Confidence

January 16th, 2013 by Katie Whidden USAT certified coach

By now you have probably set some goals for 2013 and have heard the broadcasts about your high probability of failing to achieve them by the end of the month. Well I am here to provide you with one simple suggestion for the year that is hopefully easy to follow. Train with Consistency.

As I continue to read about the human body and how to improve performance I have been continually reminded that the best way to see fitness gains is to train consistently. Fitness is not stagnant. At any moment in time you are either gaining or losing fitness. Breaks at the end of the season or when you are sick are perfectly fine but frequently missing more than 2 workouts per week can have a negative impact on fitness level and overall self-efficacy. Not only does the body respond well to regular training but the mind also remembers these experiences and benefits from them. As was stated in the Essentials of Strength and Conditioning book “We believe that the most powerful determinant of confidence and a sense of preparation is quality physical practice in which a number of positive experiences are stored in long-term memory.” Personally, the guilt conscience takes over if I miss too many workouts and as a result my race performance suffers because I know I haven’t put the time in that I was planning to.

Of course, I am still encouraging you to utilize periodization fundamentals, to vary the workouts and weekly training hours. Please note that I am not trying to tell you to overdo it and put yourself into a state of overtraining. More is not better if it leads you to having to take time off due to overuse injuries or burnout. Instead, what I am referring to is the daily effort to keep moving. In fact, an athlete who truly understands this concept recognizes that the goal is to do the least amount of properly timed, specific training that brings continual improvement.

Therefore, while deciding whether to bear the cold and get out for that 5 mile run you had scheduled for today don’t listen to the excuses that might be running through your head. Instead choose consistency. The benefits will pay off in 5 months from now when you put that swim cap on for the first tri of the season and are confident that you have put the constant work in to be successful. Remember too that you can’t make up for lost time. In other words, if you skip a few workouts in a week, you can’t add them on next week and expect positive results. With that in mind, if you do choose to stay on the couch on a given day, think about the fact that your competition might not have.

Tri Swim Class Close to Capacity

December 19th, 2012 by Katie Whidden USAT certified coach

There are a few remaining spots in the triathlon swim class that starts January 6th. Click here for more information!

This 8 week class will be focused on improving your swim speed, endurance and efficiency.

The Ultimate Holiday Guide to Great Gifts for Triathletes

November 16th, 2012 by Katie Whidden USAT certified coach

It’s that time of the year to start thinking about gifts for your significant other, sister, brother, best friend etc. If you are not a tri fanatic like they might be then you are probably confused as to what he or she might need. As triathlon is an expensive sport you might wonder how a triathlete could possibly NEED anything else. Well I’m here to tell you there is always something that a triathlete could use, actually needing the item is another story. In the spirit of Oprah’s favorite things I have created a list of my gift suggestions for your triathlete this holiday season. Below you will find that I have broken the presents down based on cost assuming that you might have different price ranges based on your relationship with this person.

For that special someone

Garmin Watch – If your triathlete is at all interested in improving their results they have probably heard that training with heart rate can produce better results. The new Garmin 910XT will give them all the data they could ever want with heart rate, elevation, pace, swim distance, stroke count and a few other metrics. They will then be able to track their progress when they upload their data to the Garmin software or into Training Peaks. I can honestly say that my Garmin watch is one of the best purchases I have ever made. For more information, visit: Garmin Watch


Athletic Mentors Florida Cycling Camp – Believe me when I say that your triathlete will be immensely grateful for a week of cycling in the sunshine state during the worst time of the year to ride in Michigan. This February they can enjoy lush accommodations, home cooked meals, and fantastic riding all while receiving coaching from pro mountain biker Kelli Emmett and Athletic Mentors head coach Mark Olson. Check out all the details about the great facilities, itinerary, and holiday registration discount pricing at: Athletic Mentors Cycling Camp


Nicely wrapped presents

  • Swim Buoy – Greatest invention for open water swimming. My training buddy and I always have these with us. They are very visible in the water and are reasonably priced at $35. When we are taking recovery intervals we even take time to float around on these. For more information, visit Swim Buoy
  • Back pack – I have not made this purchase yet but I do understand why fellow triathletes have. There have been multiple occasions where I thought I would wipe out during my pre or post race ride from transition to or from my car. There is nothing more frustrating than having to lug your gear while trying to balance on your bike. For more information, visit Back Pack
  • Gift Card – There is something to be said about a gift as basic as gift card to local bike shop. Since I have been competing in triathlon for a while now I have most everything I could need. Therefore, I personally love having the freedom to get whatever part I need to fix my bike or other random purchase I might need to make in the next few months. That is not to say that you shouldn’t make the attempt at buying something unique. I am just stating that if you know your triathlete has everything they could need then a gift card will suffice.


Stocking Stuffers

  • Nutrition – Triathletes are always in need of additional nutrition reserves so gifts like sports beans, GU, Hammer gels, or Clif bars are always appreciated. Follow this link for: Nutrition
  • Toe Warmers – If your triathletes lives in the North and rides outside at all then they would probably appreciate Grabber toe warmers. These nifty disposable warmers are air activated and provide heat to your feet for up to 6 hours. For more information, visit Toe warmers
  • Tubes – What cyclist couldn’t use extra tubes? I like Bontrager, which feature “Tubeless Ready technology” and provide all the performance advantages of a tubeless system without the usual weight penalty. It’s a better way to go tubeless. Check them out by visiting: Tubes
  • Aero Water Bottles – Aero water bottles are great for the triathlete who has a triathlon bike. If they are doing distances longer than Olympic I would recommend the Aquacell. If they are doing anything shorter then the aerodrink should work fine. For more information, visit: Aero Water Bottles
  • Tieless laces – This is one of the first things I would recommend an athlete use to improve their transition times. I even put these laces on all my shoes because they make putting your shoes on and taking them off so easy. Check out the options here: Tieless Laces


Warm Up: Your Body Will Thank You

October 24th, 2012 by Katie Whidden USAT certified coach

Many athletes find themselves constrained by time so they sometimes sacrifice the warm up or cool down during a workout. Some of us can get away with this, especially if we are young, but as we age the warm up can be critical in warding off muscular injuries.

A proper warm up does not need to take longer than 15 minutes but should include 3 parts: neuromuscular activation, dynamic stretching and the sport specific cardio related to the activity you are about to engage in. Most of us currently complete the cardio warm up by doing 10-15 minute easy spins or runs but we forgo the first two. For those of you unfamiliar with neuromuscular activation, it is the connection from the brain to muscles through motor neurons. It is the process of initiating the movement process in the brain prior to a training session. When this is done there is a higher degree of stimulation of motor units which then can lead to greater muscular contraction during your work out.

Those athletes who have been to the Athletic Mentors gym for strength training should be familiar with a proper warm up routine.

  • Foam roller: roll out key muscle groups
  • Leg swings
  • Ankle activation
  • Band pulls to warm shoulder region
  • Knee tucks to lunge
  • Quad stretch to forward lean
  • Spiderman
  • Inch worm
  • High knees
  • Butt kicks
  • Ladder drills

If you take the time to complete a 15 minute warm up and 15 minute cool down you should be able to prevent injury and decrease muscle fatigue making your next workout more effective. Eliminating the junk mile that you would have normally used to warm up and replacing it with quality and efficiency, will set you up for a better overall workout.


The Tri Season Ends… What Now?

October 4th, 2012 by Katie Whidden USAT certified coach

FREE Grand Rapids Cycling Clinic

August 14th, 2012 by Katie Whidden USAT certified coach

Interested in bike racing but want to learn more about the sport before signing up for a race? Are you a current racer who would like to improve your skills and learn a few new things from some of Michigan’s top bike racers? If you answered yes to either of these questions then you are in luck because Real Women Tri and Team Priority Health have teamed up to host a free cycling clinic this Saturday, August 18th at 3pm. Details and registration are found in the below link. Men, Women and Juniors are all welcome to attend so spread the word.