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The Fourth Biennial Art & Science of Triathlon Symposium

By Steve Jonas | Nov. 16, 2014, 12 a.m. (ET)

Talking Tri-/Duathlon for Ordinary Mortals®: A Series, (No. 16, 2014, 9/25) by Dr. Steve Jonas

I had the privilege of attending this conference and as a speaker as well. We had a top series of presenters (perhaps present company excluded) and I thought this month to share some of their thoughts about our sport, our coaches and coaching with you. For those of you who might not know, USA Triathlon certifies coaches for our sport at three levels with an ongoing certification and required continuing education program. We currently have about 2,200 coaches and everything you might want to learn about them can be found HERE.   

USA Triathlon CEO Rob Urbach first brought us up to date on USA Triathlon membership. We have about 175,000 members and this past season had about 350,000 one-day race entrants during the 2014 season. In addition, a recent column in Triathlete (“Data Driven,” Oct., 2014, p. 30) tells us that the number of events has tripled in the last seven years. For those who say the sport is dying, these are impressive numbers.

Rob talked about some of the objectives for our coaches:

  • Helping those athletes who want to do so go faster
  • Help people to stay in the sport longer
  • Broadening their market by always moving forward, from having new insights about our sport to using new techniques to help out athletes do better, however each athlete defines “better.”

Jeff Galloway was one of the great early popularizers of running back in the 1970s, along with Jimmy Fixx and my own early idol, Dr. George Sheehan. Jeff, in his early 70s now, with his wife still runs a marathon each month. From running, just like most of us in multisport, he gets “vitality, empowerment, and feeling good about oneself.” He shared a great deal about the “run-walk” approach that he developed many years ago and still uses for long-distance running, for himself and of course also for the large numbers of athletes whom he coaches over the web and in person. His running program is set out over only three days a week, with the long run on the weekend, so it certainly could be incorporated into a multisport training program. Finally, Jeff, as well as several other presenters, shared one of favorite maxims: “Less is more” (as long as it is well-planned, well-focused, and well-suited for you).

The world-renowned swim coach Bob Bowman, who coaches the great Michael Phelps, delivered the keynote address for the conference. Interestingly enough, since in my writing on multisport racing over the years I pay a good amount of attention to the mental side, Bob spent most of his time talking about the mental side of coaching. To get high performance, one begins with goal-setting and then strategic planning designed to reach the established goals. Attitude is everything. and the great ones, Bob told us, are defined by their mentality: focus, how they deal with adversity, always trying to move to the next level. Finally, excellence must be defined for each person, by the person, with the advice, realism, and perspective of the coach. That is, being the best that you can be, and want to be.

Besides our fine speakers, a fine group of coaches attended the symposium. For me, being able to interact with some of them was just as much fun and educational as listening to our speakers. Finally, let me offer my congratulations to USA Triathlon Coach Development Senior Manager Linda Cleveland and her staff for putting on such a fine conference.



This series of thoughts and recommendations about multi-sport racing by Dr. Steve Jonas is, over time, drawn in part from his book, 101 Ideas and Insights for Triathletes and Duathletes (Monterey, CA: Healthy Learning/Coaches Choice, 2011), from which text is used with permission. The book can be purchased here and is available at and

Steve’s most recent multisport book is Duathlon Training and Racing for Ordinary Mortals®: Getting Started and Staying with It (Guilford, CT: Globe Pequot Press/FalconGuides, 2012), available at and

His first book on multi-sport racing, Triathloning for Ordinary Mortals®, 2nd Ed. (New York: WW Norton, 2006) also can be found at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.