Middaugh Coaching Corner – Benchmark Testing

There are two main reasons to do benchmark testing.  The first is to figure out your current fitness level and the second is to identify the intensity levels to use during training.  With so many gadgets becoming more cost effective, you need to make sure you are putting them to good use instead of just racing your last known performance every time.  Let us help you simplify that process a little and dial in proper pace, heart rate, and power zones.

Many people are reluctant to have their level of performance cemented in and can’t take the blow to their ego.  One way to look it is if you are not “rested” enough to test, then how will you be rested enough to do hard workouts let alone race?  If you are never in a state to be able to put up an honest effort for a benchmark test, then maybe there is a problem with your training load.  Think of the testing as another hard workout and it is just a measure of where you are on that day.  Since you are using the results to guide your training, you just need the same level of freshness that you need to perform a hard workout, since that is close to the state you will be in when you use the data.

The worst feeling is showing up for a race and being surprised by a poor performance, especially if you know you have put in the time. It often occurs after long training blocks with little or no racing such as early season. You closely followed your workouts, but you get shelled during a race. Chances are you did not track your progress like you should have. After the XTERRA World Championship last fall I was asked if I was surprised by the win. The answer was no, but not because of a false sense of ability, but because I knew that the numbers I was seeing in my training didn’t lie.  I was confident because I had tracked my progress using benchmark testing. I had verified those numbers on the CompuTrainer, in the pool, and on the trail.

Benchmark testing should occur in each discipline every 6-8 weeks during the off season, and strategically during your race season to make sure you are making progress towards your goals. 6-8 weeks is enough time to make gains, but not so much time you can’t modify your training if you’ve plateaued. There is nothing more frustrating than training all winter and unknowingly starting your season behind where you ended your previous season.

Yaro’s previous article talked about setting process goals and benchmark testing is a great way to do this.  Knowing where you are in each discipline also helps you set more realistic, specific goals. If you can currently hold 6:30 min./mile pace for 30 minutes then 6:15 is a realistic pace for a key race in June. However 5:45 min./mile may not be. Sometimes athletes need to double check and evaluate their goals for each discipline after they have completed their first set of benchmark tests. If you take your second benchmark run test in February and you have gone from 6:30 min./mile to 6:05 then maybe that 5:45 is possible by June. Benchmark testing helps ensure that you go into each race with realistic goals and a solid plan.

“You are looking to satisfy two criteria for benchmark testing, reliability and repeatability”

Keep it simple

There are numerous benchmark tests that can be used to measure progress in your swim bike and run. For over 12 years I administered VO2 max tests running and biking, which can yield some good information, but I still prefer simple field tests to measure progress and set zones.  The type of step test needed to reach VO2 max is not very good for determining heart rate zones, power or paces and usually overestimates output and underestimates heart rate.

You are looking to satisfy two criteria for benchmark testing, reliability and repeatability. Steady-state field tests that have you performing closer to your race intensity are the best. Too short and it isn’t reliable, too long and it isn’t repeatable.  I am often asked why I don’t do shorter 8 or 10 minute tests on the bike and the truth is that they are just not as reliable as a 20-30 minute test.  Your goal is to gather some metrics that you can use in your training to guide your intensity levels.

“You are doing your clients a disservice when you prescribe heart rate zones based on age-predicted equations”

A word on heart rate

During my master’s program, one of my professors emphasized that you are doing your clients a disservice when you prescribe heart rate zones based on any age predicted equation.  It is true that max heart rate does gradually decline with age, but the variation can be huge.  About 20 percent of the population will fit into the age predicted equations, but for the rest of us, the variation can be plus or minus 20 beats!  For most of us we would be better off just match heart rate with perceived effort than using any age predicted equation.

I like to use heart rate for steady endurance efforts below threshold, and long steady-state tempo and threshold bouts.  Since it lags behind the workload, it is not the best indicator for shorter, harder efforts.  During low to moderate intensity you should see a long plateau as workload is kept constant, but as you approach threshold, you will see heart rate ramp.  This can also happen at lower intensities in heat and humidity. With any steady state bout, you will see heart rate decouple with either pace (runners) or power (bikers) at some point.  This means that for any sustained effort you will eventually see either a drop in pace/power, and/or an increase in heart rate and rating of perceived exertion.  This can have big implications for longer races.

“Heart rate max is arbitrary and heart rate zones are individual”

Heart rate alone means nothing. Heart rate max is arbitrary and heart rate zones are individual. It is pointless to keep asking your training partner what his/her heart rate is while you are out training together.  One big misconception is that heart rate at threshold should increase with training.  Output at your threshold heart rate should increase but the heart rate number itself may remain unchanged or in some cases even go down slightly.  Remember your goal is always to do more work at submax heart rates which are specific to you.

Heart rate can also be a good indicator of parasympathetic nervous system fatigue.  When RPE is much higher for any given heart rate, then I know that I am feeling some cumulative over-reaching symptoms.  Heart rate can also be affected acutely by previous hard workouts, illness, heat/humidity, and dehydration.

A word on power

Talking to some people and you are lead to believe that power is the holy grail of training metrics.  However, for it to be useful, you need to test it frequently.  Power zones change the most with your performance level, while heart rate zones have very little variation within a macrocycle.

Power also can fluctuate in a huge range.  In 2011 I had an SRM on my mountain bike and I remember in a 1 hour race, counting 113 spikes over 500 watts, but average power was in the low 300s.  It can be impossible to use power as a good guide during a workout if you are jumping around in a `100 watt range.

I like to use power for my indoor training, and on smooth road climbs with consistent grades.  If you live in a very flat area, power can be a great metric since wind can have such a big impact on your speed. If you are on the mountain bike, or on variable terrain, power will not be very useful to guide you during, but could be good to analyze after.  Since power is almost instantaneous, it can be a good metric for shorter efforts and for pacing early parts of longer efforts.

Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE), the original training metric

Ultimately, we are trying to determine intensity levels to use during training and racing.  Training metrics can be divided into two main categories, subjective and objective.  Rating of perceived exertion is a subjective training metric and can be used in combination with other measurements, especially when racing.  In a rested state, such as following a proper taper you might be surprised at the heart rates that you can sustain and it is sometimes a mistake to be hold yourself back too much in medium length races.  For example, in training I can only sustain zone 4 heart rates for 10-15 minutes, but racing I can hang in zone 5 for over an hour.  Always verify heart rates and power levels with RPE.

Conversely, RPE can sometimes lead you astray with no objective measures to keep you honest.  For example if I ride inside without heart rate or power, I would think I was working sufficiently hard based on the pool of sweat gathering, but the reality might be that I am riding no harder than a brisk walk.  The reason to use a combination of measures is to dial in the proper intensity level to make that adaptations you are looking for.

Volume metrics such as time, distance, kilojoules/calories

Training load = Volume X Intensity.  Most people are too concerned with the metrics that measure their training volume and neglect intensity level.  Runners and cyclists can become obsessed with miles per week, and swimmers about yards per week.  As triathletes it is hard to compete with these single sport athletes in those categories, so we obsess about hours per week.  A metric I always think is odd to track is total kilojoules or calories, which might make sense if you are on a weight loss program, but not for performance.  In 2004 I was teaching the XTERRA University in Maui for the World Championship and I remember Greg Welch asking me how many hours I put in per week on the bike.  I felt embarrassed to say it was around 4 hours, because most of my competition was putting in 10-15 hours per week on the bike.  I went on to post the fastest bike split the next day.

“We don’t race on paper”

Final thoughts

I try not to be tied to any one of these metrics, but rather use them to guide me.  Heart rate zones, power zones, or pace zones don’t always match up and they aren’t always intended to.  Training zones are never set in stone. Be aware of the benefits and limitation of each metric you use.

One thing to keep in mind is that we don’t race on paper.  Use these benchmark tests to guide your training and gauge your race readiness, but ultimately the real test will be on the course.  Your testing is specific to you and be careful when making comparisons to others.  Some athletes are just gamers who don’t test well and rise to the occasion in a race.  Others train to train and have a hard time putting it together in the races.

Specific Benchmark Testing Protocols

For specific benchmark testing protocols and zone calculations we have put together on for each discipline on our

  1. Swim testing protocol to determine threshold pace
  1. Bike testing protocol to determine Functional Threshold Power, power zones, and heart rate zones
  1. Run testing protocol to determine threshold pace, heart rate and training zones

Josiah Middaugh is the reigning XTERRA World Champion. He has a master’s degree in kinesiology and has been a certified personal trainer for 15 years (NSCA-CSCS). His brother Yaro also has a master’s degree and has been an active USAT certified coach for a decade.  Learn more about the Middaugh brothers coaching at


XTERRA’s Couch to Trail Series Intro

Meet Lauren, a college student and aspiring XTERRA triathlete.

“I’m looking to test my limits and find my true potential,” she said.  “I was trying to find a challenge that was do-able, but totally out of the ordinary and I came across XTERRA.  It looks extraordinary and that is how I want to feel … extraordinary.  But, where do I start?”

Answer: Right here, with our new XTERRA Couch to Trail program designed to help first-timers get into the sport.  We’ll start by answering some of the first questions that came to Lauren’s mind, and we’ll evolve from there. Every other week XTERRA will share ideas just for beginners in the Couch to Trail column, and on alternating weeks the Middaugh Coaching Corner column will delve into training ideologies and specifics.

First, some of the basics, with answers and ideas from XTERRA gurus Amy Eck and Mimi Stockton….


Q: I know XTERRA combines swimming, mountain biking, and trail running, but what are the distances?
A:  It varies.  The shortest XTERRA race, our “Xticer” super-sprint race, combines a 200-meter swim with a 10K (6.2-mile) mountain bike ride and a 2K (1.25-mile) trail run.  Our standard championship distance combines a 1.5K swim (1-mile) with a 30K mtb (18.6-mile) and 10K (6.2-mile) trail run. We also have sprint races that are half those distances.

Q: How far would 200-meters be in my local pool?
A:  It depends.  An Olympic size pool is 50 meters in each direction, but most U.S. pools are 25-yards (23-meters) in each direction.

Q: What bodies of water are the swims generally done in?
A: There are XTERRA races with swims in oceans, lakes, and rivers.  I would have to say the majority of our swims are done in lakes.

Q: Are there separate events for people of different skill levels?
A: Yes.  There are different distances, different wave starts, and different age classifications.  So if you’re 27-years-old you’d be racing other competitors in the 25-29 age group. Depending on the event, there are usually several “wave” starts for the swim. For example: all pros start first. Then, three minutes later all men, and three minutes after them, all women.  This also varies per event.

Q: What conditions would the weather have to be like for the swim to get canceled?
A: Safety is always first, and there are number of scenario’s where a swim can get cancelled – unhealthy water, freezing water, high water – but it doesn’t happen very often.  In 20 years of XTERRA, there has only been a few notable cancellations, like when the James River in Richmond, Virginia was flowing so fast it turned into a Class IV rapid.

Q: What should I do in order to prepare my body?
Mimi: This is a question I get asked a lot from people who are just starting out in the world of triathlon.  I tell them that the body is a finely tuned machine, and if you don’t take great care of it, it won’t perform optimally.  If you’ve decided to take the plunge and do your first XTERRA, you’re going to have to devote time and energy into training and buy some equipment.  Treat your body well.  Eat whole foods most of the time, take time to stretch out those tired and sore muscles, get enough sleep (this is when your body is repairing itself and getting ready for the next training session) and truly rest on the off days.  Listen to your body.  If you just aren’t feeling it one day, take it off.  Missing one workout isn’t going to make or break you.  I train a lot by feel and think nothing of taking off a day if I just don’t feel good.  Especially as you get older, diet and rest become increasingly more important.

Q: Is it better to train in groups or as an individual?
Mimi: I think this is a very personal decision.  If you are a person that enjoys group training in general, then by all means, train in groups.  Many people agree that group training can make you faster by pushing you to go harder.  I know for me this is definitely true in the pool.  And for beginner mountain bikers, I would definitely suggest going out with an experienced mountain biker–one who can teach you skills and help boost your confidence.  Group training is by no means necessary however.  I tend to do all of my bike and run training solo.  I enjoy training alone and most of my workouts are tailored to me specifically.  Furthermore, I can do them when I have time during the day. I do swim with others in the pool, primarily because this is my weak leg, and I need to be pushed and like to be pushed.  I believe I have gotten faster because of it.

Q: Preparing for something so rigorous needs a starting point in which to build from, so where do you suggest I start?
Amy: To be successful at anything you need a PLAN. In your triathlon preparation, finding educated professionals to taking on 3 sports can be overwhelming, and if done incorrectly can cause one to injure him or herself, so a great place to start is to partner up with a coach and possibly a training group for social and technical support.  The BEST place to find a triathlon coach is to go to website and look for a certified coach in your area.  There, you will also find a list of USA Triathlon approved and insured clubs.  Make sure that both your coach and your club are certified, as that will ensure your maximum safety (club will provide insurance) and sport knowledge.  In other words, you will be safe and have fun in scheduled workouts so you can be healthy and perform well in your race when the time arrives.

Note:  There are a lot of great XTERRA-specific coaches out there that can do training from afar and/or in-person. Josiah Middaugh of Middaugh Coaching; Lesley Paterson of Braveheart Coaching; Cody Waite from Sessions6; and Amy Eck from Camp Bennett are just a few.

Q: Is there a Triathlon community that is more social rather than competitive?
A: That’s XTERRA!  This community is very welcoming, and while the racing is competitive the people are widely referred to as the nicest in all of triathlon.

Q: What is the hardest leg of the Triathlon?
Mimi: This is different for each person.  Some start doing triathlons after a swimming or running career.  Others have spent significant time bike racing.  Then, there are some that have experience in all three sports, or some have no experience at all.  For me, the hardest leg has always been swimming.  I can practice all the time and feel great in the water, but it is still my weak spot.  Thank goodness it is the shortest leg of the triathlon!  Because it is the shortest leg, I realize that even if I’m not the strongest swimmer I’ll be able to make up the time on the bike and/or the run.  But still, I swim a lot and continuously trying to improve my stroke and overall speed.   I think many would agree, however; that the mountain bike portion of any race is usually the hardest just by virtue of it being the longest.  Then again, if you hate to run, you might beg to differ and argue that running 4-6 miles on trails after biking is the hardest part.

Q: How prepared do I need to be for terrain obstacles?
Mimi: Since each course is different, you need to be prepared to face anything and everything.  I think feeling comfortable tackling obstacles are essential to making yourself feel confident on race day.  I try and do all my running on trails.  And of course, it’s great to do long endurance rides on a road bike or trainer, but nothing beats riding a mountain bike on trails to get you ready for race day.  I really don’t think you can compare road biking with mountain biking.  The latter requires so much more athleticism, power, momentum and coordination. The only way to feel comfortable and confident on a mountain bike is to practice, practice, practice.

Q: How much money would I need to get started?
Mimi: There’s no doubt about it, triathlon is an expensive sport and hobby.  How much money you spend really varies.  Certain things are required of course, but how much you spend on those required items is entirely up to you.  The mountain bike, bike shoes and helmet are going to be the costliest items. Oh, and perhaps a wetsuit.  If you are just starting out, I might recommend testing out various bikes to see if you want to go with a full suspension or hardtail.  One option is to buy a used bike or borrow one from a friend.  There are plenty of great used bikes on the market.

Q: Is there a season for this?
A: Year-round!  There may be two-feet of snow on the U.S. East Coast right now (Feb. 1), but it’s summertime in South Africa so their season is in full swing.  The sport is more conducive to warmer weather.

Q: Is there an off season? Or should I plan to train all year long whether there is an upcoming race or not.
Mimi: There is an off season and most people would consider it to be November and December.  It’s a good idea to take a physical and mental break during these months to recharge and focus on something other than swimming, biking and running.  I think you’ll find that when you start training again in January, your body and mind will thank you for the much needed time off.

Q: What are average times I should shoot for?
A: To start, just getting to the start line on time and happy is a good goal.  The accomplishment of finishing is the first step to master, and is a super rewarding feeling when you’re just getting started.

Look for part 2 of the newbie FAQ on February 18, and a launch of a three-month training program to get you ready for your first XTERRA to debut on March 3.  If you have a newbie question you’d like answered, email it to

Josiah World Tour

Middaugh Coaching Corner – Goal Setting

By Yaro Middaugh

Goal setting is the process of identifying something that you want to accomplish and establishing measurable goals and timeframes. Setting goals is done to give you direction, focus and hopefully motivation to stay on the path to eventual success. This typically happens with each new year. We rush to set new goals, perhaps write them down somewhere and tuck them away never to be seen again. As highly motivated triathletes, we come up with amazing goals. You want to win your region and qualify for the XTERRA World Championship, or maybe land an age group podium at a key race.

If you want to increase the chances of attaining your goals, you need to have these seven key ingredients:

Make them realistic and attainable

This sounds obvious, but it definitely needs to be emphasized. Too many times athletes set huge goals, that are not in the realm of possibility and are devastated when they can’t reach them.  A race schedule and a training plan always looks easier on paper.  After seeing Josiah’s ambitious race schedule, I am reminding him of this principle.  Remember this equation:

Satisfaction = Reality – Expectations

Setting attainable goals might take some research. Based on your results from last year, how far off of the goal are you now? The Law of Diminishing Returns states that the better you are, the harder it is to make gains. An untrained athlete new to the sport of triathlon can expect greater improvement that an athlete that has been competing for 10 years and regularly wins his or her age group, unless that person makes a drastic change in their preparation. Getting input from your coach and training partners is a great strategy.

Focus on Process goals rather than Outcome goals

This is hard to do in XTERRA since every course is different, making paces less relevant. However, those metrics are very important in your training and can give you confidence going into races.  For every long-term goal, there is a systematic attainment of short term goals.  Use those outcome goals as motivators, but use the process goals to guide your training.  Also use process goals that will help your measureable goals, such as “wake up early 3 days per week and workout before work”, or recovery based such as “in bed by 9:30 pm during the week”.  Be cautious not to have your only training solution to be more, more, more.  There are only so many hours in a day and remember your goal is to adapt to whatever training load you deem appropriate.  Don’t be afraid to adjust your goals as the season progresses.

Get your entire team on board

Once you think you have realistic goals, you need to check with your entire team to make sure they are supportive and 100% on board. Your team includes anyone that will be affected by your training and racing. This could include, but is not limited to your significant other, children, parents, coach and possibly even your employer. If you can get all of these people supporting your athletic endeavors, you will have just strengthened your support team. When those tough days come, and you know they will, your team will be there to help keep you motivated. They also will be more apt to understand when you miss a family or work function because you need to get in a 3-hour brick.

Make them measurable and systematic

A well designed plan has systematic checks throughout to measure progress toward your end goal. You should know what pace you will have to run and swim as well as what type of power you will need to produce to reach your goal. If you have done the research and know that you will have to swim 1:25/100yd, run 6:30/mile and hold 230 watts for 60 min. well then you have yourself a measureable goal. Every 6-8 weeks you should be testing yourself in each discipline to make sure you are making progress towards your goals (Benchmark Testing coming soon). If not, meet with your coach right away to see if you are still on track or if changes need to be made if you have plateaued. Don’t panic and scrap your entire plan, but definitely have a conversation if you are not making progress every 6-8 weeks.

Train your weaknesses…and your strengths

I used to say “train your weaknesses, race your strengths,” but you can’t neglect your strengths.  Be honest with yourself when you identify weaknesses.  Every weakness is an opportunity to improve, but you can’t lose sight of your strengths.  I like to take sort of a “Money-Ball” approach to training.  Think about the specific demands of XTERRA.  Perform a needs analysis. Do your key races include hills?  Technical riding? Non-wetsuit swim? Identify where you have the greatest opportunity to make up the most time on race day.  Roughly 55-60% of your race time will be spent on the bike, so even if swimming may be a weakness–you also need to have a monster bike split.  Ten percent improvement in the swim might be 2-3 minutes, but ten percent improvement on the bike will be more like 8-12 minutes, and 4-6 minutes for ten percent in the run.  Don’t forget about “free speed” from improved biomechanics, technical skills, and transitions.

Put a plan in place

Now that you have a realistic goal and a support team, you need to come up with a plan to reach that goal. If you are using a coach, you need to make sure he or she knows exactly what your goals and expectations are for the season. How are you or your coach setting up your annual training plan to reach your goals? He or she should be able to tell you how they plan to get you there. What tune up races will you do? How does each race help prepare you for your goal? If you are self-coached, you need to be able to answer these questions for yourself. Prioritize your races and consider trimming your schedule if necessary.  A well-spaced schedule can allow for multiple peak performances in a season.  They can also serve as benchmarks to guide the course of your training.  If races are too tightly spaced than they may interfere too much with training.  Make sure that local races are serving a purpose and fit with your overall plan, not just digging you deeper into a fatigue hole.  Don’t underestimate the recovery required from racing, since races are almost always more fatiguing than a hard workout.  Even for low priority races, make sure you have some level of freshness going into them in order to get the maximum benefit.  If not, maladaptation will occur.

Write it down

The simplest ingredient is often the most important. I like to write my goals down, put them up where I see them every day, and graph my progress every 6-8 weeks. This visual helps keep you motivated and ensures you are making incremental gains toward your goal. It helps keep me mentally focused during my training as well. I see my last benchmark test and my end goal every time I leave the house for a workout. I may not always be on my game, but I’m less likely to slack with that reminder. If you are comfortable having it in a place that others can see it such as your refrigerator it can add an extra layer of accountability and support.

You would never bake a cake, leave out an ingredient and expect it to turn out right. The same goes for triathlon. Training hard and expecting to improve will only take you so far. Every ingredient in goal setting gets you that much closer to reaching your goals. If the end of the season comes, you hit all of your measurable benchmarks along the way, but do not qualify, the year is not a total loss. You did your job and put yourself in the best possible position to reach your goals, so no regrets.  Many aspects of XTERRA racing are unpredictable so focus on the elements that you can control. The journey is as important as the destination.


Middaugh Bros. to Pen Tips for the Tribe

XTERRA World Champion Josiah Middaugh and his brother Yaro have signed on to write bi-monthly training tips for the XTERRA Tribe in 2016.

Their column, titled the MIDDAUGH COACHING CORNER, will feature a year-long series of training articles talking about everything from race preparation to sport-specific philosophy.

“What we hope to provide is practical training advice that is scientifically sound,” said Middaugh, an 11-time XTERRA National Champion. “There is so much misinformation or just plain bad advice on the Internet, our goal is to be a trusted source with advice that everyone can benefit from to get more out of their training and racing.”

The Middaugh brothers are certainly qualified to be the voice of reason and a source the XTERRA Tribe can trust.

“I have been training and competing in endurance sports since I was 10 and for the past 15 years coached athletes of all ages and abilities based on science and experience,” said the 37-year-old from Eagle-Vail, Colorado.

Josiah has a master’s degree in Kinesiology and has been a certified personal trainer for 15 years (NSCA-CSCS). Yaro also has a master’s degree and has been an active USAT certified coach for a decade.

The first installation of the Middaugh Coaching Corner column will debut in next week’s XTERRA Tribe Newsletter. This week we caught up with the champ for a quick QnA to learn more about his plans for the column, his racing season, and his coaching business…

XT: What’s new now that you’re the XTERRA World Champion?
JM: I tried to get my kids to call me champ but they insist on calling me Dad.

XT: Any changes for you in 2016?
JM: This year I am stepping back from my personal training in the gym to focus on Middaugh Coaching and my racing career.

XT: What will your race schedule look like?
JM: It’s pretty ambitious. While still a work in progress, here’s what I’ve got cooking:

Jan 30, Fat Bike World Championship
Feb 13, Mt. Taylor Winter Quadrathlon
Feb 27, USSSA National Snowshoe Championship
Feb 27, USA Cycling Fat Bike National Championship
Mar 20, XTERRA Costa Rica
Mar 26, XTERRA Argentina
May 1, Whiskey 50 Off-Road MTB Race
May 7, 70.3 St George (probably not)
May 14, XTERRA Tahiti
May 21, XTERRA Oak Mountain
June 11-12, GoPro Mtn Games Ultimate Mountain Challenge
June 17-19, Carson City Off-Road MTB Race
June 25, XTERRA Mine Over Matter
July 4, Firecracker 50 MTB Race
July 16, XTERRA Beaver Creek
July 31, XTERRA Dominican Republic
Aug 6, XTERRA Mexico
Aug 20, XTERRA European Championship
Sep 10, Vail Outlier Mountain bike festival
Sep 17, XTERRA Pan American Championship
Oct 23, XTERRA World Championship
Nov 19, ITU Cross Triathlon World Championship

XT: Silly question, but how do you pronounce your last name?
JM: “Mid-daw” like the awe in awesome : )

XT: About your column, will athletes have to be hardcore to follow your advice?
JM: I think we are all hardcore in some ways, but no, the advice will be applicable to athletes of all levels.  It won’t be just excerpts from my training log.

XT: Are you also taking clients for in-person coaching?

JM: My coaching business is evolving and I now do more long distance training programs through Middaugh Coaching, although I still teach a masters swim group and CompuTrainer classes.

XT: How do you manage long distance training programs?
JM: The platform I use is Training Peaks. It’s individual coaching based on your race schedule, training history, and time available.

XT: What do you share with your clients that I won’t find in your training column?
JM: The difference with the clients I coach is that I am detailing out their training program specific to their life schedule and based on their strengths and weaknesses. I get input and feedback from them and adjust as needed–no template training programs.

Learn more about the Middaugh brothers and their coaching business online at


EPC Tips – Maui Prep – Final Preparations

You’ve made it to Maui. Race day is nearly here! Our 3rd training session in lead up to the XTERRA World Championships is the final piece of the puzzle.

I hope your travels were smooth and you have been taking it mostly easy this final week going into the race. It’s not uncommon to do too much on race week (particular in Maui because it’s so dang exciting to be here!). For most athletes, the ideal situation is to do your final course inspections by Thursday, then take the Friday before the race completely off. Maybe a light swim, but that’s it. Get plenty of rest, eat good food and get hydrated. Your last good nights sleep is Friday night, as Saturday night is often full of nerves and anticipation.

Your goal Saturday is to get out and shake things loose after your rest day on Friday. The training session is designed to loosen you up, get the heart beating and blood pumping just enough to leave you ready to race the next day, but not so much work that you add fatigue. Don’t be fearful if you “feel bad” the day before. This is common coming off a rest day (which is why we do this prep workout!). Here’s my take on how to execute the final “shake out” session…

Get yourself to the race venue at race start time. Bring your swim, bike and run gear.  This way you can see/feel what the weather, water and lighting conditions will likely be like.

  • SWIM: One lap of the swim course. Easy on the way out, 3-4x 20 hard pulls, 20 easy pulls on the way back. Once back, take note of the direction of the current and figure out where you want to start on the beach. Also practice a couple entries and exits in/out of the surf.
  • BIKE: 30:00-ish minutes of the opening (and closing) miles of the bike course. Get a final feel for the terrain and decide on tire and suspension pressures. Include 3-4x 2:00 at race speed on the way back, finding your rhythm.
  • RUN: 15:00 of the beginning from transition (8:00 out, 7:00 back). On the way out visualize your race and how you will run hard despite feeling exhausted after the swim and bike. On the way back include 3-4 x 0:20 strides to a fast pace (walking recoveries) to loosen up the legs from the uphill running on way out.
  • RECOVER: Stretch, hydrate and chit-chat for 10 minutes and then get out of the sun and off your feet. Relax the rest of the day, clean and lube your bike and get to bed early.

Good luck. Have fun. Be safe. And most importantly, prepare yourself mentally to suffer…”the suffering ends when you cross the finish line, disappointment lasts forever.”

Written by Cody Waite, professional endurance athlete, endurance sport coach and founder of Endurance Performance Coaching.  You can  follow Cody on Instagram and ‘LIKE’ our EPC Facebook Page to keep up with all our 2016 happenings.

Cody Waite Maui EPC

EPC Tips – Maui Prep – Race Pace Session

Last week we discussed the challenging nature of the XTERRA World Championship course in Maui and I provided you with an equally challenging vo2 max bike-run session to help you prepare. This week I’ve got session #2, a ‘race pace’ session for you that tones down the intensity while lengthening out the work intervals to further replicate the effort that will be required of you on race day.

‘Race Pace’ can vary between athletes based on how long they articulate being out on course; the elites race right around or just under their lactate threshold, while the majority of age-groupers race 10-20% below their threshold. For this session you’ll want to target that pace (or more specifically effort level) that you plan to be at for the majority of the race and get comfortable with being uncomfortable for race day.

Remember to do these intervals on hills (the steeper the better). For the bike, do them all on the uphill, while for the run you can alternate between uphill and downhill work intervals to further mimic what you’ll encounter on November 1st. Stay tuned next week for the final preparation session to be done on the island the day before the race! Good luck and have fun.

30+ minutes easy/moderate paced riding

3-5x [10:00 at race pace, 5:00 easy]

-additional aerobic riding to meet volume goals

Transition to run below…

Put away your bike and transition to run within 1-5:00.

Off the bike…
-6x [1:00 fast flat, 1:00 easy]
-3:00 walk

3-4x [8:00 race pace hills, 2:00 easy jog]

5-10:00 easy run
5:00 walk

Cody Waite Maui EPC

EPC Tips – Maui Prep – Vo2 Max Bike-Run Session

With Maui just a few short weeks away, now is the time to sharpen up for race day with some very race specific training sessions. This upcoming three part series will provide you with some final key workouts each week as you approach race day: #1 a Vo2 Max Bike-Run Session, #2 a Threshold Bike-Run Session, and #3 a Pre-Race Session to prepare for race day. Look for #2 and #3 online next week and in future XTERRA Tribe newsletters.

Maui is a “strong-man’s” (and woman’s) course. The water is rough, the bike is extremely hilly, and the run has no flat terrain (except perhaps the beach which has deep sand to make up for the flatness). Add in the heat, humidity, and wind and you have a true world championship course if there ever was one! With this in mind, your training should mimic these tough conditions as much as possible in your final build up. Spend some time pulling in the pool to build strength in the water, ride and run hills as much as possible, and wear extra clothing (or train indoors for hills & heat training) to work up a good sweat.

The following session is great for building the power and strength needed to go hard repeatedly over the steep hills. This is best done on your mountain bike, either on smooth dirt, pavement or trainer for best power output for the effort. The “hard” effort in the main-sets are intended to be above race-pace, around the vo2 max/zone 5 intensity level (110-115% of FTP on the bike, 3k-5k effort on the run).

-10:00-20:00 easy
-5:00 build to threshold/race pace
-5:00 easy

-5-6x[3:00 hard hills/3:00 easy]
-5:00 easy

-optional additional aerobic riding to meet volume goals
(60-90 minutes total time)
Transition to run below…

Put your bike away and get to the run within 1-5:00.

Off the bike…
-4:00 build to race pace
-1:00 walk

-4-6x[400m (or time equivalent) hard hills, 400m (or time equivalent) jog down]

-2:00 walk
-10:00+ easy run
-3:00 walk

Written by Cody Waite, professional XTERRA athlete, endurance sport coach and founder of Endurance Performance Coaching. You can  follow Cody on Instagram and ‘LIKE’ our EPC Facebook Page to keep up with all our 2016 happenings.
EPC Tips - Pacing

EPC Tips – Downhill Interval Run

Don’t forget the downhill intervals when prepping for a hilly race!

This is a great session to include in your build up towards a hilly race. The strength, stability, agility and body awareness are critical factors to being able to run fast downhill. Often the downhill segments come late in the race when you’re fatigued, and it’s easy to give up time on the descents if you’re not used to letting it go when the run heads down the mountain.

This is a favorite session of mine to build the strength and confidence to be able to run downhill fast. I use this session with our XTERRA athletes prepping for the hilly courses at Beaver Creek, Ogden, and Maui. The session includes uphill intervals to build the “push-off strength” (concentric) required for going uphill, along with downhill intervals to build the “landing strength” (eccentric) as you ‘catch’ yourself with every step as you control your ‘fall’ down the hillside. Be sure to ease into these sessions as they can leave you surprisingly sore the next day as the extra pounding and quadricep strength required on the downhill is not something most runners train at speed very often. The grade of the hill should be moderate to steep, with decent footing, so you can safely run fast downhill. Too steep or too rocky/rooty and you can’t run down fast enough for the intended training effect.

Uphill/Downhill Tempo Intervals:


  • Dynamic drills
  • 10:00 easy running
  • 4x 0:20 strides

Main Set:

  • 6:00-12:00 uphill run at ‘race pace’ effort
  • 1:00-3:00 rest at the top
  • 4:00-8:00 downhill run at ‘race pace’ effort
  • 1:00-3:00 rest at the bottom
  • repeat 2-4 times


  • 5:00-10:00 easy running
  • 5:00 walk

Written by Cody Waite, professional endurance athlete, endurance sport coach and founder of Endurance Performance Coaching.  You can  follow Cody on Instagram and ‘LIKE’ the EPC Facebook Page to keep up with all our 2016 happenings.


EPC Tips – Maui Bike Prep

The XTERRA USA Championship is behind us, Fall (in the northern hemisphere) is upon us, and the XTERRA World Championship in Maui is on the horizon!

The Maui course is a tough one, with a lot of steep climbing and elevation gain on the bike. For this very reason, it is critical to re-establish some bike specific strength so you can not only ride well, but also arrive in T2 with some strength left in the legs to tackle the challenging run. One of the best ways to train bike specific strength is with big gear, low cadence, high tension, intervals on the road or trainer. If you’ve been following along with my XTERRA “workouts of the weeks” over the last many months, you likely are already aware that I’m a big fan of strength work on the bike. You may already be familiar with my strength work protocols, or you can view an earlier post that desricbes the intervals in detail.

Specifically for the Maui course you will want to build up to several repetitions of 10:00 in duration to prepare for the constantly “up and down” nature of the World Championship course. Here’s what I’d recommend to build up to over the next few weeks of training:

On trainer as 90 minute session or MTB on the road as part of longer endurance session…


  • 10:00 easy spin
  • 20+ min additional aerobic riding as desired

MAIN SET: If you’re new to high tension intervals, build up to this volume with 2 sessions a week over next 3 weeks.

  • 6x[10:00 big gear, low cadence climbing, 2-4 min recovery (alternate seated & standing)]


  • 10:00 easy gear spin (or downhill)
  • extra aerobic riding as desired

Written by Cody Waite, professional endurance athlete, endurance sport coach and founder of Endurance Performance Coaching. NEW for 2016, EPC will be transforming to Sessions:6 Sport Performance! Learn more HERE. You can also follow Cody on Instagram and ‘LIKE’ our EPC Facebook Page to keep up with all our 2016 happenings.