Triathlon Legend Mark Allen

“We have to train the physiology so that their body is perceiving that day as low stress. How do you train an athlete so that their mind, their internal emotions are perceiving this day as something they can tackle? And also how do you train their physiology so that inside the body’s going “this is hard, but its not the hardest thing I’ve ever done.” You have to provide them with training that over stresses both of these elements.”

A Simple Standard

Before we get into the blog… a note to all subscribers: first, thank you for subscribing to The Athletes Cloud, your interest in the thoughts I have had to share has meant much to me; second, this is the last blog that will be sent out via email notification as I will be disabling the subscription feature to the blog and deleting all subscriber emails. This decision comes as a result of web-bots infiltrating the subcriber plug-in and using my website to send spam emails; I am done dealing with such web admin details. I will still be blogging, you just won’t be notified when a new one is up.

A bit of background is needed to appreciate why I use a specific standard when advising athletes what events they can compete in (that is if they want to be coached by me).

The athletic accomplishments of Mark Allen need to be appreciated to learn the source of this standard.

To this day, what Mark Allen achieved in the sport of triathlon has not been repeated by any single athlete. There are definitely athletes like Gwen Jorgensen – US Olympian and 2016 Rio gold medalist in triathlon – who like Mark Allen went undefeated in short course (or as it is now called ITU standard triathlon events); there is Chrissie Wellington who went undefeated across all Ironman triathlons she competed in during her career; but there is no one … not one athlete… who has done it all, and done it all within a consecutive time span like Mark Allen.

Allen won the long course championship race – back in his day it was held in Nice, France, and was a triple Olympic distance triathlon – Allen won it for 11 consecutive years. Allen went undefeated in short course events winning 18 or 19 in a row in one stretch. Allen also won the Ironman World Championship triathlon which is still held annually in Hawaii a total of 6 times. There is no single triathlete who has done anything close to what Mark Allen achieved.

If you are going to set a standard for training or racing in the sport of triathlon, there is only one athlete, the man known as ‘the Grip’ who should be referenced… and that is Mark Allen.

Before Allen won Ironman Worlds 6x, he had to defeat his predecessor, Dave Scott. Dave Scott’s nickname was ‘the Man’ because no one before Scott had won Ironman Worlds as many times (Scott won it 6x), nor by the margins that Scott won. Mark Allen was winning at every other distance of triathlon but Ironman World Champs in Hawaii eluded him. For nearly a decade – think about that… nearly a decade – of attempting to win in Hawaii, Allen was defeated by Scott time and time again, sometimes coming close with a podium finish, and sometimes not… sometimes in the top 10, sometimes not even ending finishing as a DNF (did not finish). Allen endured mechanical issues, bleeding issues, bonking,… you name it, Allen seemed to be cursed when racing in Hawaii.

That is until Mark Allen set ‘the standard‘. The standard which led him to the famous battle on the Queen K highway where the marathon of the Ironman World Champs finishes up, a battle known as ‘the Iron War’. The year was 1989, Allen and Scott were never apart more than a few seconds during the 8+ hours of the Ironman World Championship triathlon in Hawaii. It was in the final miles, on a slight upgrade that Allen made his move realizing that he was putting distance on Scott on all up grades, and was losing gaps he opened as Scott would reel him back in on declines. On the last uphill before the final descent to the coast and to the finish line, Allen put in a surge and didn’t look back… that was the year Ironman Worlds had itself a new Champ, a Champion that would win 5 more times.

So what was ‘the standard‘ Mark Allen set for himself with the intent of no longer allowing the heat and humidity of Hawaii, gaps in his training, and most of all Dave Scott from standing in his way from the top podium spot at Ironman World Champs?

Mark Allen set ‘the standard‘ that if he was going to race an 8 hour race, then he must train himself to be ready for an 8 hour race, therefore he must put in 8 hour training days if he is going to thrive in competition for 8 hours.

Long story short… he did, and the rest is history.

If you go online these days, there is a race to the bottom amongst triathlon coaches… a race to who can come up with the most moronic training formula in an attempt to ‘get clients’ (i.e. hopeful individuals who would like to cross the finish line of an iron distance triathlon so that they can call themselves ‘Ironmen’ and ‘Ironwomen’). To date, the shortest training program that I have seen offered online by triathlon coaches is 9 total hours a week being heraled as sufficient training to thrive at an iron distance triathlon. Let that sink in for a moment. The best of the best complete iron distance triathlons in about 8 hrs, with the best of the best women around 8 1/2 to 9 hrs… and the average finishers in the range of 11-13 hrs. How is the average athlete going to thrive if they train less hours per week than the entire event is going to take? How is it that Mark Allen couldn’t thrive at Ironman Worlds while putting in 800km per week of swimming, biking and running and had to add in 8 hr straight sessions to achieve his potential. Meanwhile novice athletes are told that they can get away with putting in no more than 9 hours in total a week? How does that add up? Yet this is the advice coming from triathlon coaches… even coaches who are Ironman University certified, coaches with USAT or NCCP credentials.

WARNING: training programs promising success at iron distance triathlons with only 9hrs of training per week are a crock; these programs are being sold by clowns and con-men/women calling themselves triathlon coaches.

My standard is taken from the one called the Grip… its his standard: if you are not able to train at a minimum 5 distinct sessions of equal duration to the estimated time for the event that you want to attempt, then you cannot do that event (and these training sessions are in addition to all the cardio-respiratory base conditioning, core conditioning, skill acquisition and sport specific technique necessary to be competent at the sport).

If you expect that an iron distance will take you 12 hrs and you cannot put in a total of 5 single 12 hr straight sessions of training to mimic race day then you cannot compete at an iron distance triathlon.  Its not that you shouldn’t do it, its that you cannot do it because you haven’t got the training to do it. That is what is called a standard. That there is no standard to compete at iron distance or even half iron distance triathlons is why there is a 25% DNS (do not start) rate, and a DNF (did not finish) rate as high as 20%+ at some of these events. No, no one advertises the number of drop outs before the event starts, or the number who drop out during, or the number that end up in the medical tent, or the number who do not make cut off times… because that may actually dissuade some from signing up to begin.

If you do an event for which you do not have sufficient training, then I guarantee you this… to cross the finish line you will compromise your well-being, your health, and not just for a day or two… you may do serious lasting damage to your cardio-resp system, your immune system, to your hormone/endocrine system, damage that can take months, sometimes years to heal. Again, not widely advertised because of the damage it would do registration revenues, but the number of bucket listers and iron distance triathlon finishers who months or years after their race still cannot sleep a full night, still have bathroom issues, still have lingering injuries from race day that won’t heal… is lengthy. And you won’t find this advertised anywhere either; its all about profit these days, even profit at the expense of people… even at event management companies claiming to be heavily invested in your well-being, your health.

In reality, few and I mean few people with a career, with a family, especially with young children have the time to put in proper training do compete in a full iron distance triathlon.

But this standard isn’t just for full iron distance triathlon, it applies equally to any distance of event…

If you want to run a marathon and expect it will take you 4hrs but you don’t have the time to put in consistent 4hr training sessions… then you cannot run a marathon.

If you want to compete in a 70.3 (i.e. half iron distance triathlon) and expect it to take 5hrs and you cannot put in 5hr training sessions ahead of the event, then you cannot do a 70.3.

But this is not how individuals decide on what event to race.  Convinced by their ironman triathlon club or by their meathead coach or by sports media that only 70.3 or full iron distance triathlons count as ‘real’ triathlons, they register first, and then hope to train enough to be able to show up on race day and actually race. This is called backwards racing and training.

The proper way to train and race… your training dictates the distance you can race.

Say you are able to consistently put in 1hr of training a day, and on weekends 2 or 3 hrs, then you have the following options for picking events to compete in:

  • Events that are 2 – 3 hrs in length, you have sufficient training to participate in, not compete, participate in. As in, start at the back of the field, race your own race, enjoy the scenary, the experience, and finish feeling great, or…
  • Events that are 1 – 2 hrs in length, you have sufficient training to compete in, against yourself to set a personal best, but not necessarily against others in your age group.
  • Events that are 30 – 45mins in length, depending on your sport specific level of skill and technique you may have sufficient training to be competitive against others in your age group (but that is a discussion for you to have with your coach and is dependent on far more than just hours of training).

What Mark Allen realized was needed in order for him to prevail at Ironman World Champs in Hawaii is something that exercise physiologists and coaches have known for decades but seem to have forgotten… if you want to be good at swimming you need to swim, if you want to be good at running you need to run, if you want to be good at an event that is 2hrs long then you need to consistently train 2hrs+, if you want to be good at an event that is 12hrs long then you need to train consistently for 12hrs… it ain’t quantum physics, its called training specificity.

Unlike the plethora of short cuts that are being sold, specificity states clearly: there are no short cuts, neither to a full iron distance triathlon, nor to your health. If you want health, then you have to train and race right… with specific intent and specifically for the event that you want to take on. If you want to train and race right, then you need a coach, not a clown, not a con-man or con-woman posing as a coach. Its easy – too easy in fact – to obtain coaching credentials today… so instead of coaching certificates I suggest you seek out a coach who has the education and experience of an health professional AND on top of that, a coach who has the education and experience of a coach, AND on top of that… a coach who has the education and experience of an athlete… and then you may, you just may have an individual worthy of being called coach.

If you want to be trained right… then why on earth would you skimp on the quality of your coach. I don’t see triathletes skimping in the least on their training and racing equipment, so why would you skimp on that which is even more important… your training?

Excerpt from article titled “How to Dial-In Your Race Specific Training“:

“Fitness can be described and measured in countless different ways. It all depends what you are trying to achieve. A power lifter is fit, so is a track and field sprinter and so is an Ironman athlete. However, most of us would agree that if you put any of those athletes in the others’ competition they would do rather poorly. Therein lies the concept of specificity. Your body will excel at what you train it to do. Your training should create the aerobic, anaerobic and muscular foundation to maximize your (or your athlete’s) physiological and physical potential and then fine tune it to specific race demands.”


Imagine if we started to lower standards beyond sport… in school, in the workplace, in society in general.

What if… instead of 80/100 being an A, we lower the standard to 60.

What if… instead of the current standards for entry into university, into medical school or engineering programs, we lower the standards to make sure anyone who wanted to ‘participate’ had the opportunity.

What if… instead of the blood alcohol limit prior to a DUI infraction, we eliminated the standard altogether.

What if… we simply lower standards until there were no standards. What then?

Well, like the triathletes racing at Ironman Texas we would have clowns as our medical professionals, as the architects designing our buildings, as the engineers building everything from our roads, bridges, to the cars and planes we depend on for safe travel, and speaking of safe travel… our roads would be hazardous to drivers, cyclists and pedestrians as drinking and driving would be without penalty.

When we lower standards we may make post secondary education, professions, sport more accessible and in the short term it may seem to be a win which comes without consequence. It isn’t a win, nor a sustainable solution in the long term because with lower standards eventually we lower them to the point that we start to regress as a society, devolving into lower and lower levels of existence. That is when stealing, cheating and lying become the acceptable norm.

When we push each other to deliver higher standards, challenging each other to be better than we were yesterday, expecting more from each other… that is when and how we advance.

We need to return to expecting more from one another.

We need to return to pushing ourselves.

We need to return to challenging ourselves and one another to be better, to do right.

We will be happier, healthier, and we will suffer less physical and mental disease when we return to living in line with our design: a design which requires us to continually develop, improve, grow, reaching for our fullest potential every day.


Dishonesty, Now Demise

Sport is supposed to, and used to hold athletes to standards. To participate in a sport you were expected to train, in order to compete you were expected to qualify, to prove that you were worthy to engage in competition.

Over time, the standards were loosened to encourage participation, to encourage both younger and older to become involved in sport.

Now, standards are almost non existent and as a result, sport is less sport and has become more entertainment. No different than showing up to a concert, sporting events are marketing themselves as experiences were preparation is not necessary because the point is to cross a finish line, how you cross the finish line is irrelevant. Coaching standards do not exist any longer, as today coaches do not actually coach, they prepare those eager to participate in a sporting event using every conceivable short cut as the goal is to survive, not to thrive, not to excel, not to actually train and race as an athlete. Its entertainment, its a bucket list item… whatever it is, it sure ain’t about becoming better, improving, developing, and it sure ain’t about pursuing one’s potential.

The illusion being sold is that by participating without training doesn’t change the experience: the experience of the event will be no different between you and an athlete [athlete as in an individual who has trained sufficiently & appropriately, one who has gained and trained the sport specific skills to excel]. It ain’t. Its a lie. Its a lie told to sell registration in the event, its a lie told to profit off the popularity of participating in events.

Because standards of competitor worthiness has fallen, and continue to fall, training has become the losing / losers approach to racing. Cheating, stealing, and lying have taken over; they are now the short cuts used by more event participants to make it to the finish line, and sometimes even the start line.

As I blogged recently, at the MEC Burlington Run Series Race #1 in late April, cheaters were everywhere… in the 3.75km race stealing positions and podiums from the other event participants who raced honestly, from children who raced honestly, and it was no different in the 10.2km event as the timing company Speed River Timing shared that the top 5 women were removed for course cutting, as was the top male finisher. How many others… I don’t think MEC would want the real stats revealed because it would likely turn off those who compete honestly from competing again… what’s the point when so many disrespect themselves, the event, and all their competitors. What’s an event where cheating has become normal? Not a sporting event thats for sure.

A Google search of triathletes cheating reveals how far we have fallen:

This is just in the sport of triathlon. If you Google cheats or banned athletes in the sports of running and cycling… the list of not just professionals, but amateur athletes caught with motors in their bikes (in non e-bike events), or testing positive for WADA banned performance enhancing substances, or simply deciding to course cut is lengthy. Why so many cheaters? Because all they really want is the participant medal, the finish line selfee, the Instagram or Fb post. What matters is that they were there, they crossed the finish line… as if it means something without training.

Police work, not anti-doping tests, blow open Italian doping ring

What I don’t get it… is how do cheaters reconcile that cheating, lying, stealing, tampering with the equipment of another athlete – that’s right cheating to the point that you are willing to gamble with the life of another – have anything to do with living an active healthy (i.e. mentally healthy) lifestyle? Can you honestly be mentally and emotionally healthy… if you are cheater?

What kind of delusion are we living in? This is not healthy, its nowhere close to anything close to being healthy. In one case of a banned athlete the extent of their mental dis-ease came out in articles revealing the parallel between the athlete’s unsportsmanlike behaviour to the fact that the athlete also received disciplinary action from their professional regulatory body for inappropriate behaviour. Its delusional to think you are one person on weekends or at an event, and another at work or at home. You may think cheating at an event doesn’t reflect on you, that you can cheat and ‘get away with it’, but the reality is that you are living in denial, convinced that you are physically healthy, mentally & emotionally stable. Here’s a clue… ya ain’t.

Now I read about Ironman Texas. A posted highway cam gif from IMTX shows how so called athletes ran amuck cheating. FYI… Ironman events are supposed to be non-drafting. It didn’t end there; officials at the event stopped officiating using the excuse that it would pose harm? Say what? Officials are supposed to officiate in order to prevent harm… like disqualifying or at a minimum penalizing all the idiots in the gif weaving back and forth across the course median. This is sport? This is not sport, its a joke! Ironman Texas was a fiasco, not a sporting event.

They can’t even cheat right!

If cheating wasn’t enough, these Ironman event participants prove just how unskilled, how untrained they are in that they can’t even cheat right! They can’t even ride their bikes in a straight line so they end up colliding, taking each other out like an house of cards folding upon itself. These aren’t competitors worthy of the title athlete, they are a bunch of cheaters… out to steal positions, a qualification spot for another event, perhaps even a podium from a real athletes… those who raced honestly start to finish.

These aren’t athletes, these are clowns.

If it only ended there…

Then news comes out that the actual bike course length wasn’t anywhere close to an Ironman distance triathlon: the bike course was short. But Ironman Corporation decided to count the finishing times as actual full distance race times!  Ironman Texas went from being a joke, to Ironman Corporation and the brand Ironman now becoming jokes.

By eliminating the standard of what is an Ironman triathlon – to an arbitrary distance which seems to vary with each event – what once stood as a brand representing the standard of endurance triathlons…  is now a standard of nothing. Ironman now means nothing.

If there is no specific distance that is an Ironman triathlon… because every race director can just cut the distance shorter in order to make finishing times record breaking… this is the beginning of the end of Ironman as a respectable standard in sport and in business. The precedent now is not only for athletes to course cut, but we have taken another step lower by the event management company itself ‘course cutting’.

Just imagine if we did that in any other sport…

Imagine at the Olympics, it isn’t the 100m event in track & field any longer… organizers cut the distance to 95m to ensure a new world record, to ensure spectators get to see a new WR.

Let’s not stop at the 100m event… the marathon seems a bit long, and what’s the point in a race having to be 26.2 miles… what’s with the 0.2miles? Let’s cut the marathon to an even 25miles… everyone will set personal bests, there will be new records, it will be wonderful. What crap!

Once we start to lower standards, there is no bottom… because there is no justification to put in a bottom at any point. The race is now to the bottom, and with that we devolve, we regress, we revert to animal instincts willing to lie, steal and cheat… grabbing at whatever you can get your hands on ahead of another.

Its one thing when society starts to cheat in order to try and make the standard, its an entirely new level of bottom seeking when society starts to drop standards in order to justify some short term/instant gratification end.

From here… the race now is only to see how far Ironman Corporation will sink, how low will standards fall, how far will it go to destroying everything that Ironman triathlons once were.

With the Ironman brand representing nothing,
the statement “you are an Ironman”… now means nothing.

Have an Ironman tattoo? Well you may want to consider laser removal before the Ironman brand becomes widely known as a symbol of failure, of dishonesty, of a lack of integrity, of a corporation which once had standards and then in pursuit of profits and popularity dropped the one thing it represented… its standard. Ironman is now a gutless, toothless, dying carcasse and its starting to smell like one too.

How did this happen?  How did we end up here?

It always starts small…

It starts with… oh, what’s the big deal… you are making mountains out of molehills… let’s just cut this corner, let’s make it ‘easier’, let’s… drop our standard.

Then, one day, we lift our heads from the hole we have dug wondering how on earth did we ever stray so far from our values, our moral compass, from our standards.

Its not in one day that we fall… its a drip by drip, teeny step by itsy bitsy step that we end up hoping that all the little decisions we made were insignificant that our failure to hold a standard won’t matter, doesn’t matter, hoping that no one was looking, no one will know. We get away with it for a while thinking our master plan is working… we can cheat and get away with it, and then it catches up to us and we are blindsided with the consequences that are snowballing into an avalanche.

It starts small, but it never ends small.

Dishonesty, turns into denial, which becomes delusion, then demise, leading only to death.

What we have done to the sport of triathlon would have been unimagineable to those who stood back in 1978 at the start of what would become the Ironman World Championship triathlon in Hawaii. Ironman gained its reputation from the fact that it raised the standard of what it meant to be an endurance athlete; now Ironman, the race, the brand, the corporation is in the process of self destruction… its disease is terminal because standards were lowered, because lowering the standards was allowed to become an option, it happened because standards became negotiable, even in the slightest amount.

RIP Ironman 1978 – 2018

In the stock market… its called “calling the top” and turning bearish. Not sure if there is an equivalent in sport, but I believe calling the top in Ironman, the race, the brand, the corporation at this point is appropriate. Ironman had its run… and had its opportunity to be the flagbearer, but by eliminating standards, its now time for sport to return to what it is truly about… standards. Its time we return sport to individuals who we can truly call athletes because they decide to devote themselves to raising the standard in sport. Its time for cheaters to be escorted out of competition, and for athletes to retake the field.

In contrast to the disrespect in sport today, here is an article revealing the original intent behind competition, in sport…

Or how about this as a concept… helping your fellow man/woman, that’s right instead of stepping on your competitor when they are down, what about extending them a hand?

The Science Behind How Sportsmanship Helped Desiree Linden Win Boston

Javier Gomez shows class at Challenge Wanaka

Saturday May 12th opened up my Youtube channel homepage and on it was this video…

So lets get this straight… in one Ironman Corporation event, officials refuse to officiate because they claim it would risk posing harm to participants so the outcome is blatant drafting and crashes as per the highway cam gif above, but in another Ironman Corporation event an athlete who qualifies as a result of placing 2nd in his age group for Ironman World Championships in Hawaii is disqualified by an official for indirectly accepting chapstick from his wife (i.e. he pick it up from the ground so as avoid direct outside help). No standards…

Absolutely Appalling

Yesterday, as a family we participated in the MEC Burlington Run Series, Race #1.  The event was held in the Dundas Valley Conservation Area, and had 2 events: the 3.75km and the 10.2km trail runs.  The kids – Mark & Serena – ran the 3.75km distance, and we – the parents – ran the longer event.

You think… a fun Saturday morning run with other families, other runners, out in nature, what possibly could go wrong?

To start, everything went right.  The kids had superb races, both of them taking 3rd place Overall (Male & Female) in the 3.75km distance.  Aimee and I also had great races, although not placing overall, Aimee was 2nd in her age cat (40-49) and I came in 4th in the mens 40-49 category.

Then we got home… and as I am sure just like everyone else we went to check results to see our finishing times, to see our placing in our age category and to see how others with whom we ran also did.

In reviewing the overall results for the 3.75km trail run, there was a significant change… Serena was no longer 3rd overall, she was 5th. Two ladies – Karen and Anne Marie MacDonald, both of Burlington – all of a sudden were listed as 2nd and 3rd, pushing Serena down into 5th.

Something was not right about these two ladies all of a sudden appearing in the results as top3 finishers… couldn’t put my finger on it immediately, but what had to be addressed first was Serena. Imagine receiving a medal, a medal that you thought you earned honestly, a medal that you thought was a true representation of your effort on that day… but then to have the results change results in the meaning of the medal also changing, the authenticity of the medal changing. This did not sit well with Serena, because how does one look at a medal that you thought was true, and was true in one moment – the MEC Race Director herself hung the medal around Serena’s neck – but turns out it isn’t or wasn’t? It would be understandable for Serena to feel as if she took someone else’s medal (again, she didn’t ‘take’ the medal, she received it from the race director… but I hope you can appreciate the interpretation). I had to intervene to help my daughter reconcile what she was feeling, but Serena still struggled emotionally and mentally to reconcile the events of the day. In the meantime, I started investigating the entire affair. What I came to uncover is that adults are absolutely appalling.

I started with the event result website that is used by many large events across North America and beyond: I typed in Karen and Anne Marie MacDonald of Burlington and found the following 1/2 marathon results for these two ladies from last year:

Immediately their results stood out… how did two ladies who run 5km in just under 30mins beat my daughter who easily runs 5km in 23min? Not conclusive on its own, but it made me dig deeper.

The 8th Overall Female in the 3.75km race was Madeline Webb. shows that last year Madeline ran the Toronto Waterfront 10km splitting 27:57mins for 5km; but in the MEC race yesterday she ran almost 3mins slower than the MacDonalds? Again, nothing conclusive, but the data is not favoring the MacDonalds – either Karen or Anne Marie – as honest.

The 11th Overall Female in the 3.75km race was Stefanie Goyert. Stefanie had a finishing time of 21:57.6 secs for the MEC event… almost 4mins slower than the MacDonalds. On this is where I found the piece of evidence that led to emails to both the MEC Race Director and to the company which did the timing for the MEC race – Speed River Timing – questioning the validity of Karen & Anne Marie MacDonald’s finishing times, hence their podium positions.

On, Stefanie Goyert ran a 1/2 marathon time 20mins faster than Karen and almost 30mins faster than Anne Marie.  So how is it that someone who runs so much faster over a distance 5x greater (i.e. in a 1/2 marathon) runs 4mins slower over 3.75km?

It doesn’t add up. It doesn’t add up at all. In fairness, is it possible that Karen & Anne Marie MacDonald improved in the course of the year, and that Stefanie amongst others were all having a bad day? Possible, but everyone having a bad day, a bad race? Unlikely. My daughter has been steadily improving and did not have a bad day or bad race, just the opposite she ran exquisitely and this year is undoubtedly faster than 23mins for a 5km, so after taking these possibilities into account, the finishing results of the MacDonalds cannot be accepted as accurate.

The 17th Overall Female in the 3.75km race was Holly Horton of Milton; based on Holly too has a faster 1/2 marathon time than both MacDonalds, and not by seconds but by minutes. The evidence against the MacDonalds became overwhelming.

Its not that these two ladies just ‘took’ 2nd and 3rd place dishonestly. There were in total 204 runners in the 3.75km trail run, and of those there were 127 female runners. By stealing 2nd and 3rd, these two ladies changed the results for everyone… by pushing themselves to the front, they had a cascading effect on results in overall standings, in their age group, across men and women. Point is… this cheating is not without consequences, it is harmful to everyone else that runs an honest race and as a community of runners we have no reason to tolerate this sort of appalling behaviour (especially from fellow adults).

With the recent course cutting by as many as 5,000 runners in the Mexico City marathon, and the others caught cheating in lesser events makes it all that much more realistic that the MacDonalds finishing times are a result of the two of them ‘course cutting’. This is made even more probable by the fact that their finishing times had to be ‘added’ after the race as opposed to simply appearing as a result of crossing the timing mats at the finish line.

I wrote to the Race Director and to Speed River Timing this hypothesis: Karen & Anne Marie MacDonald started with the 10km race runners (the 10km race started 10mins ahead of the start of the 3.75km race and started on the same 3.75km loop), but instead of running the full 10km race course these two ladies proceeded to run only the 3.75km course crossing the finish line within the pack of 3.75km event finishers.  Since the 10km course ran past the finishing line of the 3.75km race before heading out for another 4km loop down the Rail Trail, the MacDonalds could have blended in with the other 3.75km runners, achieving their finishing results without turning a single head anywhere along the way.

The reply from Speed River Timing… they agree!

But that wasn’t the end of it. I am not going to write an entire post because of a couple of boomers desperate to prove that they are healthy, desperate to fool themselves to think that they are winners, willing to lie, cheat, steal from everyone else just so that they can have their moment… what blew my mind was the following (quote from email from Speed River):

“In the 10k, the top 5 women only ran the half course, and we had to go through a full video review to eliminate them so that the actual winners could be recognized.”

“Watching the video review, I was surprised to see runners who had finished going back to the finish line for pictures and blocking the runners coming in, as well as jogging back and re enacting the finish while other runners are still coming in.”

What?  Are you joking?  What a bunch of toddlers!  Adults so desperate for self esteem that they are willing to steal from everyone else at the event just because they need a moment to make themselves feel better?  Toddlers!  I’m being kind… what a bunch of babies!

I don’t buy the line… ‘I didn’t know I was lining up with the 10km runners’, or ‘I didn’t know I wasn’t or shouldn’t have crossed the finish line if I wasn’t going to do the entire race course’?

Really?  Dishonesty flows so deeply within you that common sense doesn’t have a chance?

If you were pulled over by a police officer, you cannot claim not knowing the rules of the road; its no different anywhere else… you want to participate amongst others in this world, then it is your responsibility to learn the rules of engagement, proper etiquette, how to participate. If you want to claim ignorance, fine… then there is only one way to treat you… like a toddler. Which is why this post was needed: to call out all the adults who cheated yesterday at the MEC Burlington Race #1 in Dundas Valley as overgrown toddlers. Grow up before you race again!

You know who were the real mature individuals at the MEC race? All the children who complied with the course, with race etiquette, who ran a true and honest effort and crossed the finish line appropriately.

Children more mature than adults! What a world we live in!

That the timing company manager has to (a) video record the finish line, and (b) has to watch the full length of the finish line video in order to ensure that everyone crossing the finish line is doing it honestly, removing all dishonest (or as many dishonest as they can catch) is appalling.

If these were children, it could be understood that they need to learn, need to be taught how to participate. That these are adults… is ridiculous, and to repeat… appalling.

I am grateful for the timing company to respond to my email because I was able to help my daughter understand how she could be 3rd one moment, and then 5th the next, 5th on paper, but after this review…back to being 3rd! All thanks to a couple of adult women who crossed the finish line taking advantage of a 10min lead start time for the 10km event to move to the front of the pack of the 3.75km event.

One task done, but I am now left with another: having to explain adults cheating to a child? Having to explain adults who are willing to cheat and steal from children? How do I explain appalling behaviour by adults to a child who we are trying to teach that stealing, cheating, lying is not the way to live life?

After reviewing this post with my son – who came 3rd in the 3.75km race and who should not have passed anyone on the course based on his pace, and on the course – he mentioned that he passed a couple of ladies while in the race. At the time, he figured that they must be part of the 10km race. Now thinking about it… and doing the running/pace time math… its clear that there is no possible way that these two ladies could have completed the entire 2km side loop that the 10km runners had to do off the 3.75km main loop with only a 10min lead.  My son ran the 3.75km trail run in just over 15mins… if these two ladies did in fact do the proper 10km loop, then (a) there is no way my son should have passed them because they would have been running a faster pace then him, and (b) these ladies should have been behind my son, not in front!

Additional race results – Bay City St Patricks Day 5km, March 2018 – have the MacDonalds finishing in times that make it next to impossible for them to have finished with the times they posted at the 2018 MEC Burlington Race #1:

Don’t Train. EAT!

Seriously… a recent article on suggests:

What’s the message? Don’t modify your goal to suit the reality of how much you can train… train less because you don’t need to train… all you need to do is fuel & hydrate properly in order to achieve your athletic goals.  Here is another article on Triathlon Magazine Canada, by Coach Paul Duncan stating this is no uncertain terms:

What is being sold to us is that it isn’t training that gets us to our goals – OK… train a bit – but the point is that these so called coaches are making is that far more important than training to peak performance is EATING (oh, and don’t forget your hydration toolbelt)!

Just take a look at these article titles (click on any to link to the article):

Training… that’s for losers!  The message is winners, ‘real’ athletes, especially those who know the ‘secret‘ to success in sport… don’t waste their time doing it the long way, they take the short cut… they just eat their way to the finish line, to their goals.


Let’s get one thing on the table before we load it up with food, food, and more food. The average lean individual has enough fat stored on them to last for over 500 km of running… and that is without EATING anything while on the run. Again, that’s LEAN individuals; let’s not even consider right now the typical North American who has not just a couple of extra pounds on them, but tens upon tens of extra pounds on their frame.

You can last about 3mins without oxygen, you can last about 3days without water (yes… no water for 3days to all you water-holics who carry around water bottles the size of oil drums), and you can last about 3weeks without EATING! Think about that…

If the average person burns around 1,500 calories a day, multiple that by 21 days… and you get 31,500 calories in reserve!

Evolution – over millions of years – has taught our body one thing… food is scarce, there are times of plenty, and there are times of scarcity therefore always carry a store. It is only in recent times, where the constant abundance of food (and we now waste almost 1/3 of all the food that is grown/harvested on the planet) has become available.  That has happened in what… two generations, maybe three… definitely not enough time for evolution to work its wonders and rewire our DNA adapting us to 24 hr grocery stores where foods from around the world are on constant display and 24hr drive thrus offering a solution to whenever even the slightest hunger pane hits our hypothalamus.

Wakey wakey, we do not have an under-eating issue!

At last check, we – as the collective we of society – are somewhere between 2/3rd and 75% overweight, with 1 in 12 OBESE, with the projections being that by 2020 over 85% of North Americans are going to be overweight.

Yet we are told EAT, EAT, EAT? Why? Because corporations need us to buy too much, eat too much, and throw away so they can grow sales & profits; cause it sure ain’t for our own health!

The last thing we need is a mindset of EAT, EAT, EAT as if eating is the cure-all to all things. Have we not been trying this strategy for the past decade and so far its gotten us epidemics in diabetes, cardio-vascular disease, strokes, and now its starting to spill into mental health disorders which will only lead to the collapse of our health care system when we sit our double wide asses all at once in the Emerg department of our local hospital.

To be fair… there is some merit that we can improve performance by proper fueling, but “curing” undertraining, insufficient and sup-par preparation for athletic events with ‘proper fueling’ is bulls#!t. Take for instance this article which claims to be a “nutrition case study”:

The writer of this article states that an athlete who completed an iron distance triathlon ended up in the medical tent after crossing the finish line because of cramping, swelling, and then vomiting. These worsened into tachycardia, confusion and hearing difficulties, which later escalated into cerebral edema and a seizure. The medical diagnosis: severe hyponatremia.

The solution proposed by the writer so that this athlete avoids finding themselves in this scenario again… proper hydration with proper levels of sodium.


There is absolutely no mention of actually training to be ready to take on an iron distance triathlon to avoid pushing oneself to such exertion extremes that would result in the above list of signs and symptoms.  Nope. The fact that this athlete should not have even considered completing let alone competing in an iron distance triathlon until they are properly trained doesn’t even come into the discussion. And, this is what passes as “coaching”.

How bout this… stop teaching weekend warriors that insufficient and inappropriate fueling is the root of their problem. Why? Because it isn’t poor fueling or hydration its plain and simple not enough training! If you train enough, at least if you train properly enough then you should encounter every conceivable problem in training that you can expect to encounter in racing. By encountering these problems, the point of training is to solve them BEFORE you compete.

But with coaches claiming that you don’t need to train that much… just a few hours… athletes never come close to swimming, biking or running the full distances they will face in the event so its no wonder that athletes never encounter the problems the will face in the event. That athletes blow themselves apart, risking not only finishing, but gambling with their lives just to cross a finish line should be no surprise. And, this is what passes as “coaching”.

If you are encountering issues in racing that you do not encounter in training, then guess what:




But no one wants to tell an athlete… no you cannot do this or that race because no one says “no” to anyone any more. If we don’t blow sunshine up everyone’s ass 24-7 then we are taken as naysayers, disbelievers, or haters. Meanwhile, those who do blow sunshine, teaching that all you have to do is click your heels 3x and you will be back home, that all it takes is enough positive thinking to ride that rainbow to your goals… well, if that’s the strategy that gets you into the mess of severe hyponatremia, why shouldn’t that be the strategy to get you out?

If you as a coach do not have the courage to tell your athlete… “NO, you do not have the quality or quantity of training to safely compete in an event so you shouldn’t”, then you do not have what it takes to be a coach because you are willing to compromise the health and well-being, and even play with an athlete’s life.

One day… all this EAT, EAT, EAT bulls#!t will catch up to those promoting it, just like taking supplements is now coming up as yet another empty set of promises of instantaneous health:

Research is now coming up revealing that all the supplement and multi-vitamin claims are coming up empty or close to empty, and in some cases taking supplements and multi-vitamins is coming up as posing a risk to health.

Its the same thing over and over again… short cut, short cut, short cut.  When will we learn?

There is no short cut to health, to performance, to our potential… the long journey is the short cut, everything else is simply someone blowing up sunshine up your arse in hopes that you will buy, so that they can sell you… vitamins, supplements, and now these days its protein powders, recovery smoothees, sports nutrition that will keep you fueled, hydrated, and going going going.

But no… we want the finish line photo so badly, sooo badly, to prove to ourselves that we are healthy, we want that participation medal sooo badly to shove into the face of our friends to prove that we are so awesome, that when something like this happens…

Instead of asking… did I really train enough for the event?  Am I truly healthy enough to engage in an event that can take as many hours in a day that I am used to being awake?  Why do that? Why actually face the reality that… we are not as healthy as we think we are… we need far more training than what we are told we need in order to compete respecting our body and brain.

What about actually respecting the signs and symptoms our body/brain are communicating, like… sensation of gripping pain which is there to attract your attention so that you hear: HEY MORON! You’re not ready to handle 12hrs of continuous swimming-biking-running (a) because you have not trained anywhere close to enough to be ready, (b) because not once have we even come close to training for this period of time in one single session so no body system is prepared even in the slightest for this undertaking, and (c) because you’ve spent the past decade sitting behind a desk you have become weak, stiff, and barely capable of climbing a flight of stairs from disuse… do you seriously think the 12 weeks of what you call training is enough to do what you are asking of me… your body and brain?

No, no… it must be a fueling or hydration issue. Why? Because such issues require no training to solve, no effort whatsoever. Making this a fueling or hydration problem allows me to sign up and do another event next weekend because all I need to do to “solve” this problem is head to my local tri shop or bike store… and BUY a solution (on credit no less, much like how we pay for athletic performance… using our health as the credit to pay for the lack of training when competing).

You want sunshine blown up your arse… no problem… the internet is full of coaches who will blow you as many rainbows and unicorns as you can pay for.

You want health, a dose of reality… then you will have to find a coach who has the courage to tell you the truth, a coach who has the courage to confront you and your illusions that you are still 18 and still in the physical shape you were when you were 18, a coach who cares enough to tell you the truth that they are willing to risk you walking away. Such a coach will smack you upside the head with truth, AND then they will take the time to train you… properly, so that you can compete in an event, pursue your goals but in an healthy manner… physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Bigger Fish to Fry

I will be continuing the posts titled “Movement is A Language” on the TOETT (The Olympian Experience Triathlon Team) website as the thread is more sports oriented which is more suited to that website. Here is the link to part [2]:

Movement is A Language [2]

On The Athletes Cloud blog I will continue to focus on concepts which need to be addressed from a wider perspective. In short, there are bigger fish to fry and I have a couple lined up that need to be confronted asap… because what is going on in sport and in the overall health & fitness industry is truly getting out of hand.

Movement is A Language

I may finally have arrived at a way to concisely and effectively communicate why I hate HiiT (hi intensity interval training)? And when I say hate, I use the word unemotionally, its an authentic expression to the depth at which it hurts when I hear athletes/parents/coaches talk of it.

If movement is a language, then how we study movement should be comparable to the manner in which we study language, to the manner we use language… be it in poetry, in speech, in song.

Imagine if a teacher of language encouraged you to learn only a handful of sounds, not even words, just sounds, and then suggested that effective communication was the mere repetition of those sounds. If the goal of communication is not achieved thru these sounds, the teacher then suggests that the alternative approach is to escalate the intensity of the sounds until a zenith of screaming, screeching, yelling is reached, because effective communication can be achieved if sufficient decibels are put behind the sounds.

Sound familiar?  This is identical to that of a coach prescribing only workouts focused around targets of wattage, speed, or split times (i.e. decibel level), with sport specific technique dumbed-down to a handful of universal principles (i.e. sounds).

There is nothing more moronic, idiotic, ignorant, even evil for a teacher of language to do then to massacre language by dumbing-it-down to a handful of grunts and groans with intensity made the centre piece of communication. It is equally as moronic for a coach to dumb-down peak performance in sport to hi intensity interval training (HiiT).

As caveman grunting is to Shakespeare…
HiiT is to athletic training, to sport, to peak performance.

Those who teach that sport is nothing more than HiiT – i.e. caveman like activities of suffering in a pain-cave (no coincidence that a caveman approach wants a cave to hide in to train), via a “no pain no gain” mindset, where hurting oneself to the point of self harm or self mutilation is believed to be the source of strength, endurance or speed – are morons, idiots, ignorami who should be kept as far as possible from sport, especially from children who are experiencing sport for the first time.

Like language, movement is supposed to be beautiful, inspiring, captivating, intriguing, a creative outlet of self-expression, where an athlete – one who studies the language of movement – arrives to competition commanding such presence, attention, awareness that all eagerly wait to witness what awe-someness they will undoubtedly experience.

What does language have?

  • It has an alphabet which represents all the basic sounds of the language.
  • Those sounds, represented by letters are tied together in syllables, and syllables tied together to form words.
  • There are different types of words: nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs and every word has a specific meaning, sometimes multiple meanings.
  • There are rules on how words are linked together to form sentences, how sentences are united to create paragraphs, and paragraphs linked to create essays, short stories, novels, and so forth.
  • There is complexity to language… there is figurative language: simile, metaphor, personificaiton, symbolism, and hyperbole.
  • There is more complexity when language uses literary devices: anachornisms, analogies, foreshadowing, imagery, irony, satire, understatements, etc…

The palette may consist of only 26 colours (letters in the case of our alphabet), but the number of paintings an artist can render from those simple starting points is infinite. Hence movement is limitless, hence sport is limitless.

Why is HiiT the training tool of the ignorant?  Because it is the equivalent of stripping language of all its complexity… dumbing-it-down to grunts and groans, teaching that communication is a simple matter of intensifying the grunts and groans to exchange concepts, ideas, to negotiate, to interact.

What sort of individual would dumb-down the beauty, the sweetness, the creativity, the white canvas that is language into grunts and groans? They would have to be the moron of morons.

Any coach who relies on HiiT… is just such a moron.
A moron you must avoid at all costs.

Because the risk is that their ignorance will get all over you, and that ignorance will take you down… in injury, in illness, in blow out, burn out, or meltdown; far short of your potential, far short of you experiencing peak performance.

Find a coach whose love for sport is no different than that of a teacher whose love of language compels their students to inhale book after book, to fall in love with verse.

Find a coach whose appreciation of movement leads athletes to fall in love with the complexity of the language that is movement. A coach who inspires athletes to explore, to play, to engage in movement encouraging not only self expression, but self discovery so that the potential of the athlete can and will be truly experienced.

To become the highest performing version of you… you need to find a coach who is willing to take the time to teach movement as a language so that as an athlete – a student of movement – you can start to learn how to write creatively, and then to write your own essays, your own short stories, perhaps a novel, maybe an entire series.

When movement is seen as a language, then you will come to appreciate that there truly is no limit to pursuing your potential.  If this was not the case, then long ago we would have decided as a civilization that there are no more combinations of words possible… that every book, song, story, play, movie that could be written has been written and we have reached the pinnacle of our existence, of our creativity. It hasn’t happened with words, it hasn’t happened with music, therefore it has not happened in movement, thus not in sport.

Every World Record that stands today is a single chapter in a novel of that sport… its waiting for you to come along and write the next chapter in the history of the sport. But to be able to write that chapter… you will need more than grunts and groans, you will need a full vocabulary, a thorough understanding of the rules, the patterns, the process to writing and sharing ideas.

I challenge you… become a student of movement so you can write yourself into the history of sport.

HiiT Claims Another Life

First, a 15 year old cyclocross cyclist dies in his sleep of a cardiac arrest, after having suffered numerous silent cardiac arrests that went unnoticed.

Now, 23 year old Michael Goolaerts (Veranda’s Willems Crelan team) suffered a cardiac arrest while racing in the Paris-Roubaix Spring Classic event this past weekend. As a result of the MI, he crashed, was taken to hospital and died later on that same day.


How many athletes will have to die until coaches, team managers, and other athletes realize that its not undiagnosed or missed heart abnormalities… we have made a fatal error in our understanding of hi intensity interval training (HiiT) by failing to truly appreciate the long term risks it poses to both young and old, to both pro as well as amateur athlete?

We are not talking about 40 or 50 year olds who as weekend warriors decided to “crush” it in a training session or a race and ended up with an heart attack.  We are talking about teenagers and adults in their peak physiological and psychological years blowing up… pushing so hard, so often or being pushed so hard, so often that they end up dead. Dead!

If your coach/trainer continues to stuff your training schedule with HiiT workout after HiiT workout then they are gambling with your health, your life, gambling with the risk of you suffering a cardiac event.

Let this serve as your warning: when you wake up (that is hoping you wake up) with tubes coming out of your body, monitors tracking your vitals realizing that you are in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit of your local hospital… remember, someone did warn you.

Don’t want to end up an “I told you so” then wake up… HiiT is a short term solution which is designed specifically to spike your performance using every single system in your body to force more output, it is NOT healthy, neither physically, nor mentally, nor emotionally. HiiT is no different than an unnecessary TUE: its cheating legally in sport by gaming your body systems.

Do it long enough and you will suffer some consequence… death in the worst case.

Is it – death – really worth the carnal desires of your ego? Is driving yourself via self mutilation (internally, if not externally evident) using a “no pain, no gain” mindset into the ground (like 6ft in the ground, in a casket) the way you want to go out?

There are healthy and unhealthy ways to exercise, to workout, to train. Choose carefully.

Day after online articles:

“No Pain, No Gain” Deafness

Wonder why athletes – who are supposed to be healthy – end up developing heart arrhythmias, heart attacks, strokes, or worst, end up dying? Part of the reason is because they have become deaf. No, not deaf as in cannot hear sounds from with-out, but unable to hear from with-in.

Think about it this way…

If you train yourself to deny what you are feeling, train yourself to repress feelings of discomfort, soreness, pain, well… how are you going to feel when you want to and need to feel?

If you train with the goal of deadening yourself to the messages your body sends, effectively numbing yourself to yourself, what happens when your body actually sends you a signal that you are in… distress? Numbing yourself so that in competition you can ‘hold on’ and live to survive to see the finish line may seem like a winning strategy… but it isn’t. It isn’t because it does not translate out to real life, as in the life you lead the other 20+hrs a day when you are not training, not ‘an athlete’.

What happens when you are in respiratory distress, cardiac distress, or as the athlete in the Runners World article (click here for link)… having an actually cardiac arrest? That’s right… a runner living an active “healthy” lifestyle that he likely boasts all about on Facebook and Instagram had an heart attack, and continued on his way as if nothing had happened, as if nothing was wrong. So “healthy” that he could not hear nor properly interpret the signs and symptoms that his body was communicating that he was in fact in the midst of an emergency situation, a life or death moment. A moment that he is blessed to have lived through and to tell about is a miracle!

If there was ever a time when the cliche was appropriate: “lights on… but no one home”.

This is how we have been collectively instructed by well-intended (but 100% clueless) trainers, coaches, and fellow athletes to train. This mindset of self denial, self suffering, self inflicted harm of “no pain, no gain”, to the point of self mutilation (i.e. I couldn’t walk for days after that CrossFit session… gnarly!) which is supposed to be building us healthier, is in fact doing the diametric opposite.

Look around… today the average person is unhealthy.

How do you think that after training day after day, training not to hear from within, that what… by magic you will hear from within, become self aware of significant health issues when necessary. How?  How will you discern between what you have trained yourself not to do (i.e. hear), when you need to hear in order to take affirmative and possibly life saving action?

You cannot.

You won’t.

If you train yourself to deny what you feel, then guess what… you are training yourself to be an expert in not hearing what your body and brains want to tell you, needs to tell you so that you can make healthy decisions… at work, at home, at the grocery store, at the gym, when out on the town.

That is why we all have heard from family, from friends… stories of people receiving diagnoses of heart disease, dementia, cancer yet absolutely and unequivocally blindsided by the fact that they are sick, they have a disease, they are ill, even terminally ill.

As if cancer is one day not there and then poof all of a sudden you have a golf ball sized tumor, or your arteries just overnight clog up, or your neural connections just all of a sudden deteriorate, or your endocrine (i.e hormonal) system is fine and then next day breakdowns as if abused for a decade or more.

It doesn’t happen that way.

Guess how ‘good’ decisions are when you are missing vital information to make a ‘good’ decision? They are random, and they are not decisions, because without all relevant info they are at most gambles of hope [that you are making a good decision].

Imagine running a business where the CEO refuses to listen to anyone, and I mean anyone in the entire company.  What if the CEO refused to listen, not just listen – has trained themselves not even to hear – the corporate lawyers, accountants, the other C-level executives, to the Board of Directors, to the shareholders? How long would that company last?

Well… that is exactly how we are running our bodies.  We are CEOs of our body and brain, and with “no pain, no gain” we train ourselves stupid because we train ourselves to not only not hear and not listen to, but we train ourselves to purposefully ignore the messages, the signals, the communication that millions and billions of years of evolution have programmed into us in order to keep us healthy.

Yet, we wonder in amazement… how did it happen?

How did I get 50, 80, 100lbs overweight?

How did I get heart disease, end up with a stroke or cancer?

Meanwhile, its back to the gym, pounding the s#!t out of ourselves believing that working out hard, harder and harder still is the right course of action.

Yeah, right.

I do not know how to say it, or how many times to say it… hi intensity training is stupid. HiiT should be reserved for highly trained athletes under the direct and watchful and caring supervision of a coach, or a team of coaches ensuring that nothing stupid happens to the athlete when they are pushing themselves to their limits. HiiT should never have been popularized due to its inherent risks, but that’s industry for you… screw you, all that matters is their revenue and profit targets.

If you are not a highly trained athlete – i.e. an athlete who has thousands upon thousands of hours of appropriate physiological and psychological base training – then there is absolutely no reason for you to be doing HiiT (hi intensity interval training).

If you are a highly trained athlete, then only if you are in a state of health (i.e. no injury, no illness, not recovering or still in rehab) should you perform HiiT.

If you are a highly trained athlete, only if you have developed and trained a profound sense of self awareness, a keen sense of intuition, or are being coached by someone who is well trained and well versed in evaluating and training athletes who are riding the red-line of peaking to perform in competition should you perform HiiT.

Peak performance, and exploration of your peak potential happens only in the condition of consistent training, not peak training. If you do not train consistently, then there is no reason to peak… for you have nothing to peak.

Find and work with a coach who can evaluate where you are at, can progress you in an healthy manner by developing capacity, skill and technique, and refuses to spike performance using HiiT in order to pacify your or their ego, a coach who places health as the priority. There are few such coaches, but taking the time to find one may mean the difference between life and death.