Category Archives: Updates

Heading West: USA Pro Cycling Challenge

The big challenge of this year still awaits me at the USA Pro Cycling Challenge that we are doing with Trek Travel in late August. The race itself takes professional cyclists 683 miles up, over and around Colorado on some of the toughest terrain in the Rockies–all in seven days.

This will take fit legs and tremendous support from the VQ/TREK team from both the physical and emotional levels. We will count on everyone around us to make sure we stay focused and prepared for the many mountains, distances, altitudes and winds that will surely test our mental and physical limits. We will need TREK to have perfect support, our massage therapists to have us recovering each night, our nutrition to be dialed in both on and off the bikes and our teammates working together and helping when any of us are having a bad patch. These bad patches will happen to everyone, but with that team support we always get through them!

I am excited to share the suffering with my teammates and crew and I promise there will be lots of learning and stories shared every night. I will share some of them with you when we’re back. But before then, we’ll be sharing pictures through our social media channels.



August Greetings: Always Learning

The season is half over and many of us have had some success and failure as related to our season goals. Fortunately we have the ability to grow from every experience no matter how good or bad. The key to growth, both as an athlete and a person, is to continue refining performance by repeating the things that work and adjusting or changing the things that keep us from performing at our best.

robbie pre-swim at pleasant prairie I had an interesting first goal of the year at the Olympic-distance Pleasant Prairie Triathlon June 24th. I was really struggling with the swim portion of the triathlon before the event and decided to swim the course the week before. I had my fears confirmed when I flailed and panicked for the entire workout. I found out a bit too late that I needed more swim work and it showed on race day with a very slow swim time. But I did not let my poor swim affect my bike or run leg and had two great events following the swim. After the race I reflected with my peers, as well as on my own, on what I did well in the event and what things I need to do better on my next performance. I also revisited my training, especially my swim prep for the event. Upon reflection of my training process I discovered that I just was not consistent enough in the water. Some things we are naturally good at and other things need more work. Swimming is something I need to put more time into. And not just a “once and a while thing”, but a consistent approach–like I tell all the athletes I work with. I did not do that this spring/summer and paid the price with a slow swim. It will be something I change in the prep for my next triathlon…whenever it might be.

Another thing I took away from the event was that my effort on the bike does not affect my run split much. Three weeks before the event I did a steady 40k effort (90% of my maximal power over that distance) and ran 10k afterward all out. My 10k time was 44.30 after my conservative bike. At the event I decided to try to go pretty much all out on the bike and survive the run, calculating the total time delta from both pacing strategies. I am currently doing some research on a theory I have about the importance of going all out on the bike (if you are a fit triathlete) and surviving the run for sprint, Olympic and, in some cases, half-IM races. I believe this will provide a faster time overall than with saving energy for the run by biking easier. So I decided to start by testing the theory on myself instead of just collecting research from other triathletes. My theory was confirmed when I had a faster average speed on the bike with no effect on my run split! In fact my run split was a little faster than it had been three weeks before. Now, you can’t draw too many conclusions here because there are many factors that could account for these results, but the important thing is that I am experimenting and trying to learn how my body responds and reacts to different stresses.

The learning process is the key to competitions and goal events. All events are valuable if you learn from them. To really learn from an event you need to create a race plan, execute it the best you can, then download afterward, not only to yourself but also to a coach or friend. That is why hanging out with your teammates after the race and discussing your race is a key element to the value of any event. The funny stories, the knowledge that gets passed and the camaraderie amongst you and your teammates anchor the event in your mind and allow you to enjoy, learn and crystallize the good, bad and crazy that happened that day.

And if you’re wondering where you’ve already read this, my learning lessons have also been shared at the Vision Quest site.


New Year, New Place

Happy 2012! We have plenty to be excited about for the new year at Vision Quest Coaching! As much as I might love the holidays, I think I’m more thrilled about what’s happening at Vision Quest this year.  It mainly involves an upgrade to our Chicago training facility, where we got things started more than five years ago on Elston Ave. We relocated from our original space to what was supposed to be temporary digs in the 1800 block of Fullerton, but we liked it so much–and the space it offered–that we decided to stay.  Continue reading

Holiday Greetings

I get a little emotional at this time of year. Those of you that know me well understand how much I love the holiday season. I am still a firm believer in Santa Claus and the holiday spirit burns bright within me. From the holiday music to the changing of the seasons to the thought of snow…it all makes me constantly giddy.

Please take this holiday season to give yourself a big pat on the back for the things you have accomplished this year…as well as a firm kick in the butt to get you started on the goals you will tackle in 2012. The holidays are a time to reconnect with family and friends that have supported you on your journey. Continue reading

October Update and Date Night

These last few months have been very busy for me. With the kids going back to school, camps all over the U.S. and a major undertaking still on my horizon, it seems like I have had no downtime at all this year.

One thing that I look forward to every week is date night with my wife. I feel that, oftentimes, relationships with the people we care about most also seem to suffer the most when we get busy with either training or work. I am making it a personal goal to shift this paradigm in my head. I’m doing this by scheduling the most important time first. For me, that is time with my wife first, kids second and work third. Sometimes I take Lori’s time for granted and put it off because we “understand” each other. I’m working on that, because my time with her becomes personal time when I can relax, let go and speak about things most dear to my heart. I am rambling a bit about this subject, but I want to emphasize the importance of restoring yourself by restoring your relationships with those that mean the most to you–it is critical for long-term happiness! Continue reading

Balance Balance Balance

The Tour is a very interesting time for me personally. Versus has given me the opportunity to be a part of the biggest cycling event in the world with France being one of the most exciting backdrops to work from. I love the Tour and I love being as close to the action as I can get. The excitement leading up to this year’s Tour was the biggest and best in a long time. We had all the sport’s best riders in top form fighting for the most coveted jersey in the world: The Maillot Jaune. For me, just getting to experience that entire battle firsthand is something that I never take for granted. The work itself however is long and often difficult. I often find doing the interviews and stand-up spots challenging. It may look easy when watching the TV, but having a camera in your face as you describe something complicated, knowing a million viewers are watching, takes practice and experience. I continually try to refine my techniques, but in the end, like Malcolm Gladwell said, the more you do something, the better you get at it. Continue reading

Is It Really Already June?

June is here and life is good.

We finished two weeks of camps in Santa Rosa and I thought they were our best camps ever.

For the first time we did an all women’s camp. What a great group of female athletes we had: very diverse in their abilities and fitness levels, but every one of them was willing to learn and, even better, every one was really willing to test her limits and push her boundaries. They were great listeners and ultra-supportive of the camp staff, but more importantly their fellow riders. Thanks ladies for making the women’s camp an experience I will never forget!!! Continue reading