A Tale of Two Triathlon Camps

Every once in a while life serves up one of those snapshot moments. One of those times when you can clearly see where you were and where you are now. In August of this year and last year I attended the TYB Augusta Preview weekend. The difference between the two weekend experiences was dramatic. I was faster in all three sports. What changed? Everything changed. I changed.

My 2016 swim was a minute and a half faster than 2015, not tremendous progress but I’ll take it. This year my average speed on the bike course was 13.0 mph compared to 12.2 last year. It’s a big difference especially when you factor in the change to the bike course that added two big hills. Obviously I’ve still got plenty of work to do on the bike but I’ll gladly take the sizable improvement.

The difference between the two runs was the most telling metric of all. This year I ran 12 miles with an average pace of 11:43 per mile compared to last year when I ran seven miles with an average pace of 14:14 per mile. I feel like I’ve moved up from a biplane to a Cessna 172. While I may never be an F16 like some of my local triathletes but I hope to continue closing the gap.

How and why did this year-to-year improvement take place? And more importantly what can I learn from this experience that will make me a better triathlete going forward?

The one constant for both years has been my coach, Jamie Church of TYB Coaching. He did a yeoman’s job of getting me to Beach to Battleship last year. This year his workouts made a difference across the board. He kept me injury free both seasons. This year through more volume and a surprising (to me) number of interval workouts, I gained tremendous endurance and thankfully picked up a little speed. Without a coach I probably would not have done the Zone 4 intervals, and I never would have done the Zone 5 intervals. I would have totally done the strides.

Every Graph Tells A Story Don’t It

As the 2015 graph below shows I didn’t start the 2015 season in a hole. I started it in a crater. An interstate move, some overly enthusiastic holiday eating and practically no workouts for three months really put a hole my fitness.

The 2016 graph shows a much happier picture. After a reasonable off-season layoff, I actually started training in earnest in January building to what was for me some impressive volume in the summer.

In short in 2015 I completed 187 workouts for 1,513 miles in 209 hours versus 2016 which had 292 workouts for 2,912 miles in 378 hours. 2016 had 105 more workouts, 1,399 more miles and roughly 169 more hours of exercise. Really more than that I because bumped up my weightlifting and core exercise this year as well. Make time for weights and core work. The difference is bigger than you’d guess.

Community Counts

At last year’s Augusta preview I knew one person, my coach, Jamie. This year I knew about half of the participants. Also this year I’ve made a stronger effort to meet and train with my local triathlon community. It’s been a bit of a struggle to become a part of the tribe, between some serious slowness and more than my fair share of social awkwardness. Being part of the gang enriches every facet of the experience. Just having someone to talk you down every once in a while is amazing. It seems like the more triathletes I know and train with the better my season goes. Stumble on!


Al Dockery is a PTA (physical therapist assistant) based in the Upstate of SC. He is a former award-winning writer and editor, who has worked for publications including Textile World and Furniture Today. He is a NC native and a NC State graduate.

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