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Art & Science Symposium Concludes in San Diego


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SAN DIEGO, CALIF. — The USA Triathlon Art & Science of Triathlon International Coaching Symposium wrapped up Saturday, sending attendees home from the Hyatt Regency La Jolla armed with the knowledge to take their coaching practices to the next level.

“This is probably the greatest assembly of triathlon intellectual horsepower ever,” said USA Triathlon CEO Rob Urbach. “The amount of knowledge you get from having these experts all in one place is very beneficial to our coaches. “

On the final day of the two-day event, coaches had the opportunity to hear from Monique Ryan, Dr. Max Testa, Gordo Byrn, Dara Wittenburg, Derek Grabert, Retül, Melissa Mantak, Mark Sortino, Peter Harsch, Sage Rountree, Dr. Joe Vigil, Ian Murray and Scott Schnitzspahn.

The presenters covered topics ranging from fueling and hydration to underperformer syndrome to paratriathlon training.

Renowned running coach Vigil, who has coached Olympic marathon medalists Deena Kastor and Meb Keflezighi, lectured the packed room on distance running and what coaches should emphasize in their work.

“You must believe and adhere to the principle of unending improvement and the setting and achieving of even higher goals,” Vigil said.

Art & Science, a bi-annual event, attracted a record 246 attendees this year, up from around 150 in 2010.

“I can’t think of a better lineup of speakers, not just from triathlon but from cycling and nutrition and more,” said Linda Cleveland, USA Triathlon’s coach development manager. “We brought people in who coaches don’t normally see when they go to a conference.”

USA Triathlon boasts nearly 2,300 certified coaches and three levels of certification. While triathlon is often viewed as a participatory sport for age-groupers, the importance of coaching should not be underestimated.

“You can give me a hammer, a backhoe, all the equipment and materials I need to build a house, but I’m not going to be able to build a house,” said coach Paul Hanft of Chicago, Ill. “It’s kind of the same thing with the triathlon; we’re taking on three disciplines, and if you don’t come every day with a plan, you just flounder. You can waste a lot of time going down routes that really don’t work.”