JOHN MAYFIELD is a USA Triathlon certified and TriDot coach and has been working with athletes since 2009. He has partnered with numerous athletes to complete their first triathlon, others to win their age group, and others to become Ironman finishers. As a husband and father of three, he understands training, racing, and coaching must be balanced between family and other life priorities.
When did you begin triathlon?
How many triathlons have you competed in and what distances were they?
Approximately 50, including sprint, Olympic, 70.3, and Ironman distances.
What first attracted you to triathlon?
I agreed to my first endurance event during an extended flight layover, so I probably wasn’t using my best judgement. After my first triathlon, I was hooked by the competitive spirit as well as the community.
Why or what has kept you continued competing?
Mostly those same things. I still love competing against the field as well as myself and I really enjoy being part of the triathlon community. Some of my closest friendships have been developed through training and racing.
How has TriDot helped you personally excel?
The biggest value TriDot delivers is return on hours invested. Some other training plans produce good results, but generally require far greater time investments. Other plans may be low on hours, but they are low on results as well. Because TriDot takes the guesswork out of training, the athlete is making gains with each hour invested and not doing any more than is necessary. This translates to performance gains while minimizing injury risk and providing balanced prioritization of things like family, careers, and whatever else is important to the athlete.
Explain TriDot’s philosophy of fast before far, strong before long.
Fast before far, strong before long is one of the ways the TriDot defies traditional training methods, yet yields great results. Traditional periodization requires an athlete to do a very large amount of work at a very easy effort to establish an aerobic base. Not only is this time consuming, but all the miles take a toll on the body and increase injury risk. It is not until this large aerobic base is built that speed is introduced to the athletes training.
“Fast before far and strong before long” summarizes the TriDot approach that focuses first on building an athlete’s speed and power before adding mileage in training or attempting a long distance race. We have seen huge gains when athletes focus on getting faster and stronger in both short distance and long distance races. Not only do their performances increase, but they have a lower occurrence of injury, lower risk of overtraining, and are better able to manage training within the demands of their busy lives.
Which is your strongest discipline, and why? Where do you mentally/emotionally focus during each?
TriDot has helped me excel in each discipline by placing emphasis on high quality training, reducing injury risk, and doing so within a manageable time demand. My strength has always been on the bike, but being able to quantify by how much through TriDot scores has allowed me to focus training and become a well-rounded triathlete.
Especially while racing, my focus while swimming is on maintaining good form and not getting caught up in the chaos of open water. On the bike, it’s all about disciplined pacing to produce the fastest split possible that will set up a good run. Running is about being willing to push to that uncomfortable place we refer to as pain. The athlete who can push the hardest and the longest will likely win the race.
Emotionally, I draw from my loved ones, especially my three kids. The athletes I coach, my team mates, fellow competitors, and volunteers also play a huge roll.
Do you have any memorable experiences with triathlon?
My most memorable experience in coaching was having the opportunity to accompany two of my athletes competing in the Ironman World Championship in Kona. Not only did I have great access to the race, I got to swim from Dig Me beach, ride along the Queen K, and run on Ali’i.
How do you avoid overtraining in your workouts?
To avoid overtraining first requires a properly structured training plan that relies on proven principles as opposed to fear-based volume. Once a training plan is established, the athlete should be monitored on an ongoing basis to ensure the training is being absorbed into fitness gains as opposed to deteriorating the athlete’s health. This can be done through subjective feedback from the athlete as well objective measurements like resting heart rate and heart rate variability.
Training should always be purpose driven and never done out of fear. The athlete should only take on additional training stress when all indicators show that their body is ready to take on that load and convert it to performance gains.
How important is recovery in your training?
Recovery is perhaps the most important aspect of triathlon, but often neglected. Training is prioritized, but training generally leaves the body in a weakened state. It is only when the appropriate amount of recovery is applied that the body is able to make gains in strength and performance. Proper recovery includes several steps, including sleep, nutrition, rest, and active recovery. Activities such as stretching, rolling, and massage can also boost and expedite recovery.
How has triathlon influenced/changed the rest of your life?
When I first got into the sport it was a way for me to sustain an active lifestyle. The unexpected benefit has been a new career that allows me to work in a field I am passionate about while building relationships with athletes all over the world.
Who or what has inspired you in you the most in your triathlon journey?
My three kids are my biggest source of inspiration. I want them to see value in physical activity, but more importantly in chasing dreams, working hard, and relying on others. My athletes and their accomplishments and ambitions also inspire me on a daily basis. I have also been blessed with a core group of supporters including my wife, my coaches, and my mentors.
Check in tomorrow for the second part of John’s interview.