Crushing Iron Podcast #2 (Contents listed below)

Here’s the second Crushing Iron “Squadcast.”  There are several topics and we’ve given you time codes so you can find everything easily.  Today, Coach Robbie and Mike get into:

  • Planning your 2017 Triathlon Race Calendar
  • Ways to keep off-season training fun but focused
  • Overall body workout balance
  • Why a training plan has little to do with coaching
  • “Speeding up” versus “Slowing Down the Least”
  • Mental and physical hurdles of the Marathon in Ironman racing
  • Good ways to ruin your race
  • Calibrating your internal power and pace meters.

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Triathlon and Politics (Not Really)

“You must be the change you want to see in the world.” –Ghandi 

I’m not really going to talk about politics.  But I’ve noticed something missing on my Facebook feed this week and think it’s important.

Like you, I have been bombarded with chaos.  Gloating posts from the elated, and scathing retorts from disappointed.  But what really stood out was . . . how little of this banter is coming from my triathlon friends.

Triathletes haven’t been immune, but for the most part they seem to have abstained; and I think it’s because they understand who ultimately controls their outcomes.

This certainly applies to more than triathletes, but this is a triathlon website and I know that training for Ironman creates ongoing challenges that force us to face problems and dig for solutions.  Only one person can stop us, and that person is in the mirror.

I’ve never believed the president impacts my life.  I’m the one who gets out of bed and decides to kick ass or wallow in illusion of pending doom.

Maybe it’s easier for me to say because I’m a middle-aged white male.  But, I’m not immune to obstacles.

I’ve always dealt with depression and addiction.  I’ve always struggled with money and relationships. I come from a long line of alcoholics.

Because of these things I tend to turn inside.  I also isolate and that usually makes things worse.

But without darkness, there is no light.

It is easy to project negativity on the world when things aren’t going my way.  I’ve worked hard to keep that in check because selfish reactions have consequence on more people than me.

Regardless of how I feel, I always know the truth in my heart and do whatever it takes to “get myself back.”  To remain positive.  And most importantly not blame other people for my situation.

For me, that’s at the core of what’s going on right now.  Raging on Facebook or Twitter is simply another form of quick fix.  It’s an addiction that makes people feel better in the moment, then ultimately worse.  And, it’s selfish.

I think most people understand this because the posting is losing some edge.  There have been a lot of apologies.

Maybe it’s because the world didn’t end, but it’s more likely because “the rush” from the outrage wore off.  Their lives remain the same and they still face the real work inside.

We’ll be a lot better off when we realize telling people to change never works.  The only thing we can do is “be that change” and hope they notice.

Speaking of politics, check out the Crushing Iron podcast, “Triathlon: The Good, the bad, and the ugly,” for honest discussion between an age group athlete and his coach.  

Crushing Iron Podcast (Audio Only) – Goals, Breaking Barriers, Swimming, etc.

Crushing Iron Podcast (Audio Only) – Goals, Breaking Barriers, Swimming, etc.

Crushing Iron Podcast (Audio Only) 01-11-16

Mike and Coach Robbie talk about setting goals for next season, the reality of qualifying for KONA, Ironman as a bucket list item versus a path of growth, how the addition of Ironman races impacts us, the slew of shortened Ironman races, and why the SWIM is so important and underrated.  Time codes listed for different topics so you can scroll ahead if you want.

Our goal is to do one of these a week and release it on Monday . . . maybe.  Feedback is welcome.  Thanks for listening and follow Crushing Iron on Twitter and Facebook to stay in the loop.

Off Season Preparation

Off Season Preparation


My last semester of college I had to take a few base-classes I’d been putting off. One of those was European History.  

The goal was to cruise the class with little effort, grab my “C” and cross the stage with a diploma.  

The day after my first exam, the weathered, and irrationally intense history professor (who I called “Caesar” because of his not-so-vague fascination with the conquer) wandered the room handing out results to baby-faced-freshmen around me.  

I forced a smile after he called my name in dramatic fashion.  

His eyes pierced mine through his Benjamin Franklin glasses and he repeated my name for effect, “Mr. Tarrolly.”  

I said, “That’s me.” 

“Mr. Tarrolly, you’re a senior, correct?

“Oh yes.”

“Well, if you think just because you’re a senior, you’re going to waltz through my class without effort, you are making a big mistake.”

I scanned the room to see all freshman eyes on me before nervously looking away.

“Mr. Tarrolly, you just made the worst grade in the class.  One more score like this and you are putting your graduation in jeopardy.  Do you understand?”

I was furious, but he had me over a barrel.  I grabbed the test with a big red “F” on the front and stewed in silence for the rest of the class.  But Caesar definitely got my attention.  

I think the biggest mistake I’ve made immediately following all four of my Ironman races is . . . not taking advantage of the biggest training day of the year.  I typically just sit around and do nothing for the next few months, then crank it up January 2nd (after the Badgers bowl game).

But lazy is rarely a solid strategy.*

My biggest gains in 2016 came immediately after my 70.3 in Lake Logan.  I took one day off and went harder than ever.  The problem was, I only had about 5 weeks until Ironman Wisconsin and didn’t reach my peak.

It’s hard to keep the momentum, but I really believe NOW is the key to next year.  It’s about building the foundation so I’m ready to train right in January.

With that in mind I’ve been using two strategies.

  • Keep It Fun
  • Target Shape


Swimming – This is where I ALWAYS fall off the most.  The reason?  Because I literally stop swimming.  Fun for me in the pool is not pushing it too hard. Taking breaks, not going too far, etc.  I use pull buoys and paddles a lot.  Just getting in the pool is a win, and sweating out the chlorine in the sauna is a double bonus.

Biking – The Fall is a great time to ride, but after 112 miles of hell it’s really hard for me to clip on crusty shoes and ride a TT bike.  A mountain bike is far more comfortable and convenient.  I don’t use clips, I have a soft seat, and the terrain variables lend to a more stimulating ride.  When I ride I keep it easy, but work hard going up the hills.  

Running –  It’s nothing new, but I’ve re-discovered a great way to make running more enjoyable.  I walk up the hills.  This in contrast to working hard on climbs while riding my bike.  It is a tremendous relief knowing you have a “break” coming when you reach the bottom of a hill.  This gives me time on my feet without destroying my will.


The whole theory behind Target Shape is being ahead of the game and energized when January comes around.  Normally I start my training by working back into shape.  Pro athletes are expected to be in shape when they get to camp, and this is the same thing.

Swim – I have a simple swim goal of being comfortable with 1,500 – 2,000 January 2.  Normally I’m fighting to swim 500 without stopping.

Bike – By consistently biking 1.5-2 hours in the off season, either on a mountain bike or trainer, I’ll be ready to push that further in January.  The key for me now is to mentally accept “time on bike.”

Run – I want to be on the cusp of being ready for a stand alone 1/2 marathon.  I’m planning a couple before I get to Chattanooga and want to be able to tap speed training without shredding my tendons.

I’ve spent a lot of my “Ironman career” talking about the KONA dream, but haven’t built my foundation to make that happen.  I’ve always “crammed” for my Ironman test, but a slow, sustained grind is always best.

It’s funny how things become more enjoyable when you get better at a manageable pace.  It’s also amazing what you can do when you focus on the process instead of the prize.


After my humiliating moment in History class, I dug into every word of the assigned reading, and checked every box on the study guides.  I genuinely began to love European History.

After my mid-term Graduation ceremony, I was sitting at my parent’s for Christmas dinner when mom handed me the phone.


It was Caesar.

“Mike, this is Professor Jones.”


“Yes, I just wanted to say I’m proud of you.  You really turned things around and showed what you’re capable of.  I’ve just finished grading Final Exams and you had the highest score in the class.”

I wasn’t really surprised by my score, but the fact that my professor called me blew my mind.  It was honestly the highlight of my academic career and it only happened because I put in the work.  

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Off Season Cross-training

As I run and ride through the Nashville Greenways near my house, I’ve always been fascinated by the guys walking up and down hills throwing frisbees in my general direction.  They carry Ironman-sized backpacks and seem very serious, but also have an aura of calm.  I promised myself that one day I would play this frisbee golf thing.  That day was yesterday.

As luck would have it, my neighbor is one of those freaky technical guys who understands everything mechanical.  He builds bikes and did a lot of tune up work for me before Ironman Wisconsin.  He also has a frisbee-golf-practice-goal planted in his front yard.

It’s actually called “Disc Golf” and I had no idea what I was in for.

As I stood on the first tee ready to toss the frisbee around for a while, I quickly figured out those backpacks aren’t for food.  My neighbor pulled his out of the trunk and that thing must have had 30 different discs inside.  He explained they are all for different shots based on size, weight, etc.  That’s when I officially thought he was crazy.

Really cool Disc-Golf hole that could double as great trail running

The discs essentially represent different golf clubs, there’s even a putter disc.  But none of that made sense as I took my first warm up throw which promptly landed in a dried up creek below a big tree about 100 feet away.

“Not bad,” said my neighbor before unveiled an 8-point-breakdown on how launching a disc is much different than throwing a frisbee.  He explained the 3 step crossover, the explosion point, and a complicated head position.  For a minute I thought I was at a swim lesson.

Thankfully an outsider stepped in and asked if I’ve ever played baseball.  “Of course!” I said.

He said you might be more comfortable with the forehand-flip.  Hell yes I would be.

So that’s what happened most of the day.  I channeled my inner middle-infielder by throwing side-arm discs deep into the woods.

By the 15th hole my arm was killing me.  Today I’m sore all over, and very happy about it.

I’ve found some different muscles to train in a casual and fun way.  It’s not hard-core by any means, but it gives you those twists and turns we don’t get from traditional triathlon training.

Anyway, I’m not sure what the point of all this is, but I think I’m just happy because I’ve found another way to stay young by acting like a child a few times a week.