JARED MILAM is a professional triathlete, TriDot coach, and member of the Tri4Him Pro Team. He has 16 years of competitive running experience and 11 years of competitive triathlon experience with a half Iron PR of 3:59 and a full Iron PR of 8:30. Coaching under the TriDot system since 2011, Jared loves working with aspiring triathletes of all ages and performance levels.
When did you begin racing triathlons?
My first triathlon was ten years ago when I was 18. I had been a runner since junior high, and I did high school swim for a couple of years. My swim coach, who was both insane and also my role model, loved to do ultra-marathons and Ironmans. He had a passion for anything that was incredibly difficult. So, he started a triathlon in our small town of Pekin, Illinois, which was my introduction into the sport.
However, during the race I got lost on the course and ended up getting disqualified! The bike course wasn’t well marked and I missed a key turn and rode back to transition on the wrong road. You’d think being in my own hometown I’d know the roads better! But I missed the turn and went back the wrong way… and then there was the poor guy who was following me! Sadly, he was disqualified as well thanks to my dumb mistake.
Were you hooked after that?
I was! Although I didn’t finish appropriately, I had so much fun competing. It was so unique compared to just running or just swimming, and I knew I could compete well under better circumstances. I successfully completed another triathlon the next year when I was 19 and fell in love even more.
What kept you competing as a triathlete?
I’ve always loved endurance athletics. Whatever I thought was the most challenging is what drew me. I also used to play ice hockey, but as my peers continued to grow and I didn’t. Hockey didn’t seem the most fruitful option for me!
I loved running and decided to go that path, but I’ve never been spectacular in the sport. But in triathlons, it’s about the grit, who is going to be able to suffer the most. It’s being a jack-of-all-trades, being decent at several sports. I found as I started doing triathlons I was placing a lot better than I would in just a running race. In hindsight, I would say my athletic ability wasn’t particularly noteworthy in each of the three disciplines independently, but when you put them together, I excelled. You tend to gravitate toward what you excel at the most, so this intrigued me…and it was tough!
How did you find out about TriDot?
Tri4Him is affiliated with TriDot, as Jeff Booher created both. I was introduced to the Tri4Him team from my college friend, Nick Waninger, while attending Southern Illinois University. He was getting his graduate degree and running for our team. When he started competing professionally, he made contact with Jeff, and they created a Tri4Him Elite Team.
In 2009, I qualified to be a professional elite – and again in 2010 – at the Half Ironman World Championships. However, I wasn’t sure if I had a desire to travel down that road. While I was decent as an amateur, I wasn’t much of a contender against most of the professional athletes. Even though I could have my professional card, there wasn’t really much reason for it, because I wouldn’t be competing very well against other pros. But when Tri4Him reached out to me to be on their team as a professional, that gave me a good reason to take the dive because then it was about competing on a pro team with others who aligned with my beliefs and faith.
Later, Jeff would go on to create the TriDot Training System, which is how I became associated with it. I believed in the coaching philosophy, and that’s why I wanted to coach for TriDot.
What is the biggest value TriDot delivers from a coaching perspective?
We’re sending our athletes into this arena of competing against themselves by use of time trials – a training day when an athlete goes out and essentially simulates a race in one of the three disciplines. For example, if he is running a 5k, ideally he’d be in a closed environment (for consistent data to compare to the month before) and wearing a heart rate monitor. Then the athlete runs the distance to the best of his ability, and we use this data in part to realize his threshold capacity. A huge mistake a lot of athletes make is simply not knowing what their threshold capacity pace or average power or average heart rate is. These numbers are what we need to gauge all of their training off of.
The other solution to the puzzle is that we’re factoring in their physical data – height, weight, age, etc. – and combined with the data extracted from their threshold tests we can use the TriDot system to determine their ability in each discipline. That’s what the TriDot Score is. That’s what makes this system unique. We have a measured ability level in each discipline for each athlete, based on their own individual data.
That data then tells us what intensity level an athlete should be training at to give them the greatest possible improvements. Put simply, if an athlete is going to be uncoached and aimlessly decide maybe one day to swim as hard as she can for X amount of time, then another day bike as hard as she can for another X amount of time, and repeat. There’s no direction in this. There’s no room for recovery and the assumption is that hard efforts ALWAYS produce positive results when we have found as a triathlon community that this simply isn’t true. You’re putting your body through stresses you think are going to create improvement, but how do you know?
If you were to do the former every day, you’re not going to see the results you want because your body is going to break down. It’s been proven in endurance athletics that going as hard as you can every day isn’t what’s going to make you better. There are ranges of intensities that you need to tap into in order to improve.
Contrast that to the TriDot plan. We take into account data that other programs aren’t, including our method of learning your threshold capacities and the use of the individual’s physical data. As a result, we have a better idea of what an athlete’s triathlon ability is in each individual discipline and at what intensity the athlete should be training at in order to improve his ability in each one.