Thursday, September 1, 2016

Coaching at the Diabetes Training Camp

I have had the honor of working at my 5th Diabetes Training Camp (DTC) this August and I absolutely loved it. Working with Type 1 diabetics is extremely fulfilling and watching the DTC philosophy at work in the camp environment is a powerful experience.

For those of you who don’t know, Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease where a person’s pancreas stops working. Normally, a properly working pancreas secretes insulin which helps us regulate our blood sugar. Since a diabetic’s pancreas does not work properly, the diabetics must consciously regulate their own blood sugar by injecting insulin at the right times throughout the day. It’s a 24 hour, 7 days a week job and there is no cure (you can’t simply eat or exercise your way out of it). If diabetics do not regulate their blood sugars well, there can be short term consequences (like feeling lethargic or passing out) and long term consequences such as permanent nerve damage, loss of eye sight, and shorter life expectancy.  

Generally, diabetics get a 20-30 minute consult with their doctor a few times a year. Dr. Matt Corcoran, an MD, CDE, and Exercise Specialist with the American Association of Sports Medicine quickly recognized that this was not enough time to help his patients. In response, he developed a camp to address the needs of diabetics in a fundamental way. This is how DTC was born.      

Dr. Matt Corcoran with Camper Margalynne

At the most basic level, DTC is a week long educational camp that helps diabetics improve their diabetes management through nutrition and exercise. The camp brings together all the necessary team members including a medical team, a mental skills team, a coaching team, and a fitness team to address all aspects of living well with diabetes. The campers listen to lectures given by experts, engage in one-on-ones to develop individualized diabetes and exercise/training plans, have coach directed group discussions, and then go out to the fields (and pools) of Lancaster County PA to apply what they learned. The camp does a fantastic job of addressing everyone’s individual goals, from those who want to be able to walk a mile or swim one length of a pool to those want to run a marathon or complete an ironman.

Naturally, my job at DTC is to be part of the coaching staff. I help out with the swim, bike, and run/walk programs on an as needed bases: working with other coaches to develop the week’s program; discussing swim, bike, run techniques with campers; observing group training sessions; coaching on deck; and providing individuals with good old fashion workouts.  I am also around to address individual questions and take part in the coach directed discussion groups. This year, I even helped some campers/staff work on their butterfly kick in the pool (which seconds as a cool dance move and thirds as…well…we won’t go there…).

From my perspective, one of the most powerful things about DTC is the low risk environment it creates. At camp, it becomes markedly evident that there is not a “one plan that fits all” formula. There is not one plan that will resolve everyone’s diabetes needs and/or fitness goals. There are 25 different diabetics in the room with 25 different body’s that all respond to stress, insulin, sugar, and training differently. The lectures provide some very general principles and then everyone must go out, test their knowledge, and find out what works for them. Inevitably, a camper calculates incorrectly, or the body responds in a way he or she didn’t expect, or the meter wasn’t reading accurately, and he or she goes super high or low during a workout. The thing is, it’s ok. The campers are not alone in the DTC environment and can test out their new knowledge in a safe way. Not only is there a medical team ready to intervene when necessary, all the other campers can identify with the one who is having a tough time. They can empathize with each other, share their experiences, and build each other back up during the tough times. Needless to say, campers learn from each other just as much as they learn from the experts.

Getting Fit! Having Fun!

I have often wondered why I am so drawn to DTC beyond the fact that I’m a Professional Coach/Triathlete and can fill a coaching role. Although type 1 diabetes runs in my family, I do not have it. It’s taken me a few camps to figure this out, but I think it has to do with how the essence of DTC aligns with my philosophy of living as an athlete. For me, being an athlete is a life approach. It requires a relentless awareness of your own body, mind and environment. It requires an unwavering desire to live and adapt, rest and grow. DTC teaches these principles in a concrete way. It presents campers with good evidence-based information about the body, mind, and environment through a variety of different angles (medicine, psychology, nutrition, fitness). DTC goes beyond this by creating an individualize plan to support each individual’s body, needs, and goals. Then, it creates a low risk environment that allows campers to go out and live, to learn from their experiences, to trust their experiences, to share those experiences with others, to tweak their plan, to keep growing, and to never give up.    

Technique Focus 

Campers who leave DTC tend to be very successful with their goals. Countless campers have gone on to achieve extraordinary feats that doctors never thought possible for a diabetic. These feats range from getting off the couch and running a 5k just 8 weeks later, to completing the grueling 140.6 miles of an ironman, to riding a bike for 400 miles over 40 days over 40,000 feet of elevation while raising $40,000 for to DTC foundation after living with diabetes for 40 years (GO RIDE 40!). This is because DTC not only sets campers up to successfully manage their diabetes, it teaches people how to address their limitations and be successful in life. The camp essentially parallels a high performance environment, the same environment that great coaches like Brett Sutton, Joel Filliol, Greg Mueller, Cliff English, Marilyn Chychota, and Paulo Sousa (among countless others) create for their high performing triathletes. I would be lying if I said I do not try to create this same type of experience for the athletes I coach individually. Despite the fact that many Power On athletes live far away, I attempt to disperse evidence-based information through my closed Power On Coaching Facebook Page. I connect athletes within my coaching group and with nearby clubs such as the YMCA-C3 Triathlon Club, Pittsburgh Triathlon Club, and Masters Swimming so they can train with other athletes and learn from other’s experiences. I develop individualized training plans to help guide each athlete. I help each athlete reflect on their experiences via data analysis, goal sheets, post-race reviews, and end of the season reflections so they can learn to tweak their plan and find a way to be more successful in the future. I also take part in these things myself to develop my own professional career because I want to be a better coach and pro triathlete. To sum it up, the types of things that campers learn and work on at DTC are the same things that top performers are doing all over the world. The only difference is that campers at DTC all have a specific set of limitations which the camp sets out to address.

Ride 40's Grant Curry, a HUGE Success

If you have type 1 diabetes, you must go to DTC. Regardless of where you are at in your journey of living with the disease, and regardless of your current fitness level, your experience will be life changing. I’ve seen countless cases of “oh, I didn’t know I could do that” or “wow, I’ve had diabetes for 30 years and I’ve never had so much control over my blood sugar until this week.” Not only that, you will inspire other diabetics by sharing your story.

Julie and Lyndsay, both are Diabetics, both are Ironman finishers,
and both are Exceptional Women

If you do not have diabetes, you can still embody the idea of living as an athlete. No matter where you are starting from, find a good group of training partners and/or a good coach to help you achieve your goals.  

I could not thank DTC enough for having me back again and again. With each camp, I become a better coach, a better athlete, and a better person. Thank you DTC!

The August 2016 DTC Crew!
Runners Run...and then Pose

For more info on the Diabetes Training Camp, give a life changing gift to the DTC foundation, or find out how you can get funding for the next DTC camp, go here:

Monday, August 8, 2016

My Talk with Race4Chase Youth Triathlon Programs!

One of my favorite jobs as a professional triathlete and coach is to promote the sport of triathlon. It has given me so much and I love to give back in any way I can. I had the wonderful opportunity to do this by talking with the kids from two Race4Chase YMCA programs this year. Race4Chase is a program that was developed in memory of Chase Kowalski who loved triathlon and was killed at the Sandy Hook Tragedy. According to its mission:  

The Race4Chase Kid’s Triathlon program is a youth triathlon program aimed to provide kids aged 6 to 12 with a safe, healthy non-competitive environment to discover the sport of triathlon.  It brings together kids from all different backgrounds and educates them on how to adopt a healthy lifestyle, coaches them to develop a foundation of athletic skills, and inspires them to aim high in sports and in life.

Designed as a six week goal oriented summer program, the program provides kids with expert instruction in swimming, cycling, running, strength training and flexibility, and also teaches them the fundamentals of good nutrition, under the supportive guidance of coaches, lifeguards and instructors. Implementing a custom-designed training program, the coaches provide the youth athletes with all the equipment, knowledge, and one-on-one support they need to become tri-athletes.  At the culmination of the training camp, all the youth athletes come together to compete in a USAT-sanctioned triathlon race.

In addition, this year the kids got a free entry to camp and a free bike if they needed one.

Here is a video on the CMAK foundation which supports the Race4Chase Triathlon Program.

One thing I really love about the camp is that it exposes kids to triathlon at an early age which is so important to the growth of our sport. If kids know about triathlon, learn how to train, and enjoy their experience, they will want to continue to do it. This will only help the future of triathlon!

For my part, I sat them down and talked about the typical day of a professional triathlete including how much I sleep (9-12 hours a day), how much I eat (lots), what I eat (healthy food like pasta, fruits, and vegetables), and my daily workout routine (swim, bike, run, strength, rest). At the end of my talk, I really emphasized the importance of consistency. If there is one thing I know about triathlon, it’s that the more you train and race, the better you get. There are going to be tough races and training days where you just don’t want to swim, bike, or run, but if you keep showing up, you will be rewarded for your hard work.  

Training Day! Everyone wanted to touch my bike...

To finish up, I ran them through my typical warm-up and drills. We concluded with some fun relays which really fired up the kids. The best relay was when they had to run backwards. It was hard enough for them just to keep going, let alone race each other while doing so! The kids absolutely loved it and I can’t wait to help out again next year!

Race Day!

Thanks to the Soundview YMCA and Valley Shore YMCA for having me be a part of this great program!

For more information on Race4Chase and how you might contribute to the CMAK foundation, check out


Congrats to Power On Coached Leslie Connell Neff who took 2nd in her AG at Rev3 Pocono Olympic.
Congrats to Power On Coached Richard Baker for taking 4th in his age group at Niantic and dropping off 8 minutes from last years time.
Fitness is coming up for these two as they approach their respective Ironmans! Go Power On Athletes!

Monday, July 18, 2016


George Leonard once wrote: “Mastery is not about reaching perfection, but rather comes from maintaining a particular mindset as you move along the path of improvement in building your skills or overcoming challenges in any endeavor.” In other words, mastery is not simply achieving something great. Instead, mastery is relentlessly perusing the question "how can I get better" when you are already pretty darn good. If you do this, greatness will be the byproduct. 

Looking for a Triathlon Coach? Reach out to coach Jon at 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Stuff I tell the athletes I coach...

There are going to be times when you get knocked down in your training, racing, or in life. You're going to have to choose whether or not you want to get up again. Have you prepared for that moment? Do you know what you're going to say to yourself when shit gets real hard? Do you know what you are going to do? Be tough and hold on to your goals. It will be better than amazing when you achieve them. 

Looking for a triathlon coach? Contact coach Jon at 

Friday, June 10, 2016


More experience doesn’t mean less curveballs in racing. There are almost always going to be one or two that are thrown at you in a race, you just lean to expect them and figure out how to deal with them a little better as they come. One example from my own experience was at Ironman Texas this year. I was in the best shape of my life and had everything fine-tuned. My body was ready, my equipment was clean and working well, and I was confident that I could meet my performance goals. Around 10 miles into the ride, I hit a pothole. After that, little by little, my quads started to burn like I was in an Olympic distance race even though I was going at an Ironman effort. I couldn’t figure out what was going on. Then, I hit another pothole and I felt myself slide down. I immediately realized that my seat dropped. I could have just quit the race, but I road on. About five miles later, I went through an aid station and yelled out for a wrench to fix my seat, but no one had a wrench. I continued on. I saw a competitor about 300 yards up the road and road hard up to him to ask if he had a wrench. He did and he gave it to me. I stopped, fixed the issue and continued on with my race.
I checked my bike 3 times prior to the race to make sure everything was tight, but sometimes this sort of stuff just happens. It was probably the pothole that loosened things up. Nevertheless, I had to stay patient and go into trouble shooting mode. The athlete who gets thrown a curve ball, troubleshoots, and still find a meet his or her goals are the best athletes (Chrissie Wellington having flats on the bike and still winning Kona)! We don’t always meet our goals when this stuff happens, but we try anyway. It’s the kind of stuff that makes us stronger athletes.
(Pic from Quassy this past weekend)

Tuesday, June 7, 2016


Lots of good improvement and lessons learned this weekend for Power On athletes!
Richard Baker 10 minute improvement over last year at the Quassy Olympic!
Angie Dye achieved her goal of having fun and experiencing her first time on the beast that is Quassy Olympic!
Ted Breault who took 6th in his AG at Quassy Half!
Corey Melke Hinz who finished in the top 25% at her first trail marathon, The South Downs Trail Challenge
Natalie Kronick who finished under tough conditions at Raleigh 70.3
Gary Perillo who had an awesome kick off to his season at Ridgefield Sprint!
Want to join this awesome group of athletes? E-mail me at for more information.