Triathlon Coach Janet Wilson: USAT Certified Triathlon Coach for athletes from beginner to Ironman

Triathlon Coach - Triathlon Coach Janet Wilson - Tulsa, Oklahoma -

I have 30 years of experience in Multisport events and training, ranking nationally in my age group for several years. I am a Level One Certified Coach with USA Triathlon and a Certified Masters Swim Coach. I reside in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where I do personal coaching. I also coach athletes online. I have coached people at all levels, including many first-time triathletes and can help you achieve your triathlon and fitness goals. Services I provide for clients include:

Develop distance-specific triathlon training plans
Get you started on your first triathlon
Sharpen your skills in the three disciplines
Oversee triathlon-specific weight training
Provide triathlon-specific stretching exercises
Give you pointers (triathlon gear, triathlon transitions, and triathlon race strategy)
Oversee and coach speed work
Provide swimming instruction and swim tips

Contact me at 918-760-7167 or email me:

Triathlon Bike: Tips for a strong bike leg in your next triathlon.

  1. Ride your bike. This will sound simplistic, but it is true – the best way to improve your cycling is by riding your bike. Put in miles so you are comfortable in the saddle for long periods of time. Ride varying terrain, especially rolling hills and some steep climbing. As you advance, practice riding in your profile bars for extended periods. This training is relatively low impact and if done using proper form can also strengthen your running muscles.
  2. Build endurance by training longer than your race distance. Overtraining on your running is a recipe for injury – the same is not true on the bike. Make sure your training rides end up at least 25% longer than your actual race distance (obviously you want to build up to that distance slowly). The longer training will help build endurance for all three events and also build your confidence. Psychologically it is great if you can go into the bike knowing you’ll be strong over the whole distance.
  3. Bike comfort. Go to a reputable bike store to get fitted, but don’t be afraid to tweak you bike as you learn more about your riding style. Listen to your body – if you feel pain or numbness after riding for a while try to isolate where that pain is coming from and consider making adjustments to relieve the pressure on that part of your body. Typical adjustments include seat height, seat position (forward or back), seat angle (slightly up or down), handlebar angle (up or down) and cleat placement on your shoes. There are many other possible adjustments, but these will cover most discomfort. Make sure that your adjustments aren’t too drastic. Just an inch or even less can make a big difference, (and overadjusting the other direction can also cause problems). Experiment by riding at least a few miles after each adjustment until you find a setup that is comfortable for long distances.
  4. Bike for your first race. Most beginner traithletes ask me, “do I need a special bike for my first race?” The answer of course is no. Some people do their first race or two on a mountain bike (this will usually slow you down and it makes the bike leg harder, but you won’t be the only one out there on a mountain bike). You can always borrow a bike too. Many bike shops will have a loaner or two on hand for you to try (be sure and buy your bike from them if you later decide to purchase one). Don’t let your equipment keep you from doing a few races – you can always upgrade things after you get a few races under your belt. Plus doing a few races will give you a chance to see what other people are riding.
  5. Buying a bike. Once you are ready to take the plunge start the search for your new bike at a local bike store. You may find cheaper equipment on the web – and you may end up buying off the web anyway if you want something used or a brand that’s not sold at a store in your city – but a local store is the place to start. Here you can get great advice on bike fit, frame size, different frame styles, construction materials, differences in components and more. Tell them you are looking for a “time-trial” or triathlon bike. Eventually you will settle on a style you like best. Then you should evaluate your budget. Start with a great frame – you can always upgrade components later. Buy new if you can afford it because you never know what kind of abuse a used bike has been through. However, if you are on a tight budget you can also find used bikes on eBay or Craig’s List (this is a better place to buy upgrade components). Finally you can sometimes find out about used bikes from your local bike club.

How To Pack a Bike Case for Your Next Triathlon

Heading out of town for your next race? Here are some tips for packing your triathlon bike.

Is your next big race halfway across the country? Traveling a long distance to a triathlon adds a lot of additional stress and potential problems before the starting gun even goes off. Here are some tips on how to pack your bike and gear so that everything gets to the transition area – including you – in good shape and ready to race.

Step 1: You start with a good bike case. If you travel a lot you should buy one. If you don’t, go to your local bike shop and see if you can rent one (that is what I usually do). When you open up the case you will see three layers of foam. You sandwich the bike and wheels between the layers of foam (that is my wetsuit on top – you can safely ship your wetsuit on top of the top layer of foam and against the top plastic case):

Here is the “before” picture – to fit the bike into the case you will have to remove the wheels, aero bars, seat, and the pedals. You will also need to loosen the handlebars so that they can fold under the frame.

Step 2: Take off your aero bars – make sure that you pack whatever tool you use to loosen the hex nuts. Also watch for things like where your brake cables are situated (you might want to take some digital pictures of your bike setup as you are taking it apart to remind you when you go to put it back together at your race site). Put all the hardware into a ziplock bag. Here you can see I’ve got one of the two elbow pads off and am working on the second one):

Step 3: Loosen the handlebars where the handlebar stem attaches to the bars. You don’t want to remove them – just loosen them enough so you can move them to the left or right (here I have moved the bar to show you how it looks after loosened):

Step 4: Take off your seat. IMPORTANT – mark where your seat meets your frame with some electrical tape. This makes getting the correct seat height easy when you are putting the bike back together at the race.

Step 5: Remove the pedals using a pedal wrench (if you don’t have one you’ll have to buy one to take with you so you can get the pedals on at the race). Put the pedals into their own ziplock bag.

Step 6: Take off both wheels. Once you have them off, be sure and let the air out of them (that way they don’t blow while in transit). You will also need to take the skewers out of each wheel (just unscrew each skewer – be careful to keep the springs on each skewer). Once you pull these out, store the skewers in a ziplock bag. Just set the wheels aside when you are done:

Step 7: You may need to tie your derailleur closer to your bike frame for it to fit properly into your case (this is especially true if you have one of the smaller cases like the one I’m using here). I just use an old shoelace, although you could also use a small bungie cord.

Step 8: Now you start packing the bike. Put one of the layers of foam on one of the two sides of the case. Then you put the bike frame on top of that layer of foam. Turn the handlebars so they are flat against the foam and rotate them under the top tube like in the picture below:

Step 9: Next you start putting in everything you took off. These parts are normally in their own plastic bags (this will prevent them from accidentally rubbing up against the frame and scratching it). You may have to use a little trial and error here, but the key is to place things in a space where they aren’t on top of or right next to the frame. In this picture you can see the aero bar is in the space between the seatpost and the corner of the box. The seat can fit between the downtube and the bottom bracket of the bike. Fit the pedals, elbow pads, skewers and other gear in some of the other gaps.

Step 10: Once you get the bike itself packed you can also pack your tools, bike helmet, empty water bottles, etc. in the same level as the bike. Here is an example of how you want things to look when the first level of your bike case is fully packed:

Step 11: Next, put the second layer of foam on top of the bike. On top of this layer of foam you put the two wheels. Put the back wheel in first. Face the cassette on the back wheel down toward the bike so it doesn’t damage the front wheel. Here is how they look when they are packed:

Step 12: Put the third layer of foam on top of the wheels. If you are packing your wetsuit in your bike case put it on top of this third layer of foam. Put the top part of the case on top of this and latch it. You will want the case to compress everything some, so that nothing is moving inside the case. However, if it requires more than a push to get the case closed you might want to check to see that the bike is laying as flat as it can in that first layer.

I hope this is helpful. If you have any comments or suggestions for other “How To” guides, please let me know.

Triathlon Bike: Triathlon Bike 101 Getting Started

I met with one of my new triathlon clients and I was reminded of how hard it is to coach someone from a distance. Here are 7 things I discovered during the first 5 minutes after I begged him to bring his bike to one of his swim training sessions. Hopefully you can learn from these 7 mistakes:

  1. Basic triathlon bike maintenance. The first thing I noticed was his chain – it was rusty. Six drops of chain lube could have prevented this rust. Beginner triathletes often know little about basic bicycle maintenance. The chain should be cleaned when dirty and lubricated. Your local bike shop can give you some great suggestions about cleaning solutions and lubricants you can use on your triathlon bike.
  2. Brakes rubbing. The second thing I noticed was his front brake was rubbing the wheel. This was mainly due to the fact that the bike was transported loose in the back of a pickup truck. The first rule is to secure your bike if you are carrying it in your vehicle (a rubber mat if it must lay flat in the car – a bike rack is better). Second, always check your brakes before you start your ride (especially if you have to take your wheels off to transport the bike). You can test this by holding the wheel off the ground and spinning it hard. If there is a problem the wheel will not spin freely – you will feel vibration in the frame or hear a rub, and the wheel will slow down. If the brake is rubbing check to see if the wheel was put on correctly (you can also adjust the brake assembly slightly by hand). If the brakes are still rubbing you want to have a bike shop check to see if your wheel rim is warped and needs to be trued.
  3. Saddle bag supplies. His saddle bag supplies were the following: cell phone and keys. Not good. Make sure you have at least one spare tube of the correct size (you can find the size on the sidewall of your bike tires), tire levers, some supply of air (either a CO2 cartridge or a bike pump), and a few bucks. Other good things to consider are a tube repair kit and a hex wrench set. The cell phone and identification are also a good idea.
  4. Eye protection. He didn’t have a pair of sunglasses or other eye protection. It is imperative to have your eyes protected, not just from the sun but from a 50 mph rock or insect. Not only can these cause discomfort, but they can lead to a wreck with another cyclist or even worse a vehicle. This is just as important as a bike helmet (you’ve got your bike helmet right?)
  5. Tire pressure. His tire pressure was about half the recommended pressure. Check the sidewall of your tire – it will give you the recommended pressure range. Get a nice floor pump with a pressure guage so you can fill your tires properly before you ride. Properly filled tires create less rolling resistance – and let you ride faster with less effort. But be careful not to overfill your tire – that is another good way to get a flat.
  6. Learn how to fix a flat. Please don’t be one of those triathletes whose flat repair kit is a cell phone (and you will get a flat). Watch the video above where I show you the proper way to fix a bike flat.
  7. Look, listen and feel. We’ve gone over what to look for, but while riding the bike make sure to listen for creaks, pops and rubbing noises. If you hear or feel anything like this pay close attention. These are sure-fire clues that there is something wrong. Most of the time these are things that can be easily fixed by your local bike shop. But left unattended they could slow you down and eventually may cause something to break.

I worked at a bike shop in St. Louis when I was in college. It is important to find a repair shop you can trust. Ask people in your local bicycle club for recommendations. Don’t assume that the bike is ready to go when you get it home. Double-check the whole bike to make sure everything works and is tightened up. Once you find a good bike shop, take your bike in regularly for a tune-up and overall check. You will get a ton of miles and enjoyment (okay, maybe enjoyment is too strong…) out of a well-maintained triathlon bike.