Triathlon Clinics Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Frequently Asked Questions about Discomfort Zone Triathlon Clinics

Here are the answers to the most frequently asked questions about DZ triathlon clinics. Have a question and the answer’s not here? Contact us!


    The Clinics
    The Coaches
    The Training
    Typical Training Schedule
    Who Can Attend?
    Support and Gear (SAG)
    Giving a DZ Clinic as a Gift
    How to Register

The Clinics

What triathlon clinics are offered?

Discomfort Zone offers three triathlon clinics throughout the year: Winter, Spring, and Fall.

Winter Clinic begins in January and takes place entirely indoors. Sessions run for 10 Sundays, 9:00am until 12:30pm at the University of Guelph. We generally cover two sports per session, with indoor pool swims, trainer bike workouts, and runs on the indoor track.

Spring Clinic begins in May and runs Monday and Thursday evenings from 6:00-8:30pm. There are 24 sessions over 12 weeks, starting indoors and moving outdoors as soon as the weather allows. Workouts take place at the University of Guelph, Guelph Lake Conservation Area, and various outdoor bike and run areas around Guelph.

Fall clinic starts in September just as race season is coming to a close. Sessions are Sundays, 9:00am to 12:30pm starting with indoor pool swims and outdoor runs. Clinic runs for 10 weeks and moves indoors as the weather closes in.

Can I come for just the swim, bike, or run?


Athletes are welcome to register for either the swim or the bike+run parts of the clinic. Sometimes athletes are training for duathlon or running races, working on one sport, or just don’t have time for the full session. Either way, we’re happy to have you join us.

Pricing for partial sessions varies by clinic and is available on the registration site.

Can I come out for a single session, or just pay-as-I-go?


We offer individual sessions for those who would like to try a session, can only make it to a few, are visiting the area, or would like to join mid-clinic. We enjoy having new athletes join our clinics, and make a tall effort to make you welcome.

Pricing for individual sessions varies by clinic and is available on the registration site.

The Coaches

Head Coach Mike Coughlin demonstrates a drill at DZ Stroke Improvement & Triathlon Clinic, Winter 2014Who are the Discomfort Zone Coaches?

Your coaches for Guelph triathlon clinics are Head Coach Mike Coughlin and Associate Coach Mike Mahoney.

Mike Coughlin has been coaching for over 10 years, is an ULTRAMAN World Champion, multiple IRONMAN and Kona finisher, and winner of the Hoodoo 500 and Furnace Creek 508 ultra cycling races.

Mike Mahoney has been coaching for over four years, is a multiple IRONMAN finisher and a level two triathlon official.

As well, we often have guest coaches join us for single or multiple sessions to share their expertise in physiotherapy, IRONMAN coaching, run coaching, swim technique, nutrition, and exercise physiology.

All coaches are NCCP trained and insured through Triathlon Ontario.

The Training

What kind of training can I expect?

Each clinic has a different focus, based on the typical race season for an Ontario-based triathlete.

Fall Clinic focuses on technique improvement, recovery, and off-season training. Athletes improve their swim stroke, pedal stroke, and running stride. The emphasis is on base fitness and low-intensity training.

Winter Clinic is all about building fitness early in the year in preparation for specific training prior to race season. Workouts are structured to build speed and endurance.

Spring Clinic is intended to provide race-specific training. As workouts move outdoors, the emphasis is on open-water swimming, transitions, bike skills, and specific fitness building for upcoming races.

Typical Training Schedule

What’s a typical session’s training look like?

Here’s a typical schedule for DZ Fall Clinic:

1swim+rungold pool / arboretum
2swim+rungold pool / arboretum
3runcross course
4swim+bikegold pool / stands
5*swim+rungold pool / arboretum
6swim+bikegold pool / stands
7swim+bikegold pool / stands
8bike+runfieldhouse / arboretum
9swim+bikegold pool / stands
10swim+bike+rungold pool / fieldhouse

And here’s a typical swim+bike day at DZ Fall Clinic:

  • 08:15-08:45:
    Bike & trainer dropoff & setup, pool rear doors

  • 08:45-09:00:
    Meet on deck; Gold Pool

  • 09:00-09:20:
    Dryland warm up

  • 09:20-10:45:
    Swim workout with Head Coach Mike Coughlin

  • 10:45-11:00:
    Optional swim TT, swim cool-down, hot tub debrief

  • 11:00-11:15:
    Change for bike

  • 11:15-12:15:
    Bike warmup, strength workout, and indoor trainer bike workout

  • 12:15-12:30:
    Cool-down & stretch

  • 12:30:
    End of formal workout, question & answer, administration

Who Can Attend?

Coaching a stroke improvement session, DZ Winter Triathlon Clinic - Guelph, 2014I don’t want to hold up the group. How strong a triathlete do I have to be to participate in a Discomfort Zone Triathlon Clinic?

Anybody – and we mean anybody – can join in.

Discomfort Zone events are specifically designed to be accessible to triathletes of all levels, from the newest beginner to the most seasoned veteran.

We specialize in events that offer strong athletes good solid training while also allowing beginners to be part of the group.

If there’s an event that’s designed only for a particular level of athlete, it will be clearly stated on our advertising, on our webpage, on Facebook, and in the online registration. Unless it specifically says otherwise, our events are inclusive for triathletes of all levels.

How do you provide challenging training for athletes of widely different ability levels?

It’s kind of our thing.

Head Coach Mike Coughlin believes very strongly that triathlon training can and should be open to athletes of all abilities. It’s not necessarily easy to design or coach a workout with athletes of different abilities, but there are ways to go about doing just that.

Mike’s had long experience setting up workouts with this in mind, and mentors DZ associate coaches to take the same care when planning and delivering workouts. At Discomfort Zone, we pride ourselves on offering events where strong athletes can get a full training load while beginners can learn, all in a fun social atmosphere.

As a strong athlete, can I count on getting enough training and expert advice?

You sure can.

It’s not unusual to have a few standout athletes at a DZ event, and strong athletes have a right to expect their fair share of coaching attention. Stronger athletes will often receive workouts that incorporate faster, longer, or harder sets, or more advanced skills. But there’s no reason that these can’t take place at the same time and in the same general area as another group.

Coach Mike’s been providing workouts like this for years, and finds that having beginner, intermediate, and advanced athletes at the same event is a net benefit to all.

I’m okay at one or two of the three sports, but I’m weak in the swim, bike, or run. Can I still attend clinics?

Of course you can.

More often than not, triathletes are much better at one sport or another. The good news is that athletes usually see the most improvement in their weakest sport. Good coaching is one thing that will help you improve.

I want to participate, but there’s some specific intimidation factor to triathlon that makes it hard.

Whether it’s learning to swim, getting back into shape, transitions, injuries, cycling in tight groups, a difficulty with a particular sport, climbing hills, high-speed descents, worry about holding up the group, or anything else – there’s one answer: Triathletes are a friendly, welcoming bunch of people. You can join an event knowing that both coaches and athletes will be welcoming and supportive.


Stationary trainers while the athletes practice transition running with their bikes - Winter Triathlon Clinic 2016What equipment do I need for a Discomfort Zone clinic?

Check out our Gear List.

You’ll basically need what you’d need for a triathlon, starting with running shoes, bike, helmet, swimsuit, and goggles. For indoor bikes, you’ll need a stationary trainer. DZ coaches are always happy to help with equipment when we can.

We can also rent you equipment, like stationary trainers.

Do I need a fancy road or time trial bike? What about an old road bike or a mountain bike?

You can get by with any functional bike.

Triathlon rules require that your bike be safe and have brakes, and you must wear an approved helmet on the road. You do not need a racing bike or a time trial bike.

Many athletes try out triathlon using a mountain bike or a borrowed bike, and invest in a road or time trial bike once they’re sure they like the sport. A good option is a basic, inexpensive road bike, to which you can add accessories like aero bars later.

For indoor workouts on a stationary trainer, knobby tires should be replaced with a smooth trainer tire.

Getting into wetsuits for the open water swim, Spring Triathlon Clinic 2015Do I need a wetsuit?

You’ll probably want a wetsuit for spring clinic.

Winter and fall clinic swims are indoors in the pool, so you won’t need a wetsuit. Spring clinic, on the other hand, moves to open-water swim as soon as the weather allows. Typically the water is cold for the first couple of swims, and a wetsuit is recommended.

Athletes are briefed on the cold-water swim, Discomfort Zone Spring Triathlon Clinic 2015What type of wetsuit should I get? Sleeves or sleeveless?

We recommend a sleeveless wetsuit for beginners, sleeves for veterans, strong swimmers, or if you’re prone to getting cold easily.

Support and Gear (SAG)

Mike and Michel run toward transition at Discomfort Zone Spring Triathlon Clinic 2016What kind of support is there for outdoor road bikes and long runs?

We have a vehicle with water, tools, tubes, tires, bike rack, nutrition, and first aid, which accompanies athletes on road bikes and long runs. Athletes can stash extra kit or nutrition in the vehicle or catch a lift if needed.

Giving a DZ Clinic as a Gift

Can I give a DZ triathlon clinic as a gift?

You can indeed. This happens a lot, and we think a DZ triathlon clinic makes a great gift!

Simply register for the clinic of your choice under the name of the recipient.

The CCN registration system will allow you to find and register an existing Triathlon Ontario member or an athlete who has used their system before. If their Triathlon Ontario membership isn’t current, you’ll need to renew it before you can register them for clinic.

You can also register a new athlete.

We can provide a nicely personalized, printable gift certificate upon request.


How much do Discomfort Zone clinics cost?

2017-2018 pricing for DZ clinics is as follows:

    Group workouts indoors at the indoor track mean athletes can practice bike/run multibrick training at DZ Winter Triathlon Clinic.
  • Winter Clinic:
    10 Weeks
    10 Sessions (35 hours)
    Sundays 9:00am – 12:30pm

    Non Members: $299
    Triathlon Ontario Members: $269
    DZM Members: ​$249
    Swim only: $167
    Bike+Run only: $167
    Individual session: $40

  • Triathletes at DZ Fall Triathlon Clinic 2016 complete a core strength training set

  • Spring Clinic:
    12 Weeks
    24 Sessions (60 hours)
    Mondays & Thursdays 6:00 – 8:30pm

    Non Members: $329
    Triathlon Ontario Members: $299
    DZM Members: ​$279
    Mondays (swim+run) only: $179
    Thursdays (bike+run) only: $179
    Individual session: $25

  • Fall Clinic:
    10 Weeks
    10 Sessions (35 hours)
    Sundays 9:00am – 12:30pm

    Non Members: $299
    Triathlon Ontario Members: $269
    DZM Members: ​$249
    Swim only: $167
    Bike+Run only: $167
    Individual session: $40

  • Discomfort Zone Multisport:
    1 year: $99

All clinic prices are in Canadian dollars, and are subject to both HST and online processing.


Athlete group shot at Discomfort Zone Spring Triathlon Clinic 2014Do I need a membership to participate in DZ triathlon clinics?

Yes, all athletes need a Triathlon Ontario membership.

If you’re just coming out for one session, a Triathlon Ontario one-day membership is available for a minimal charge, which you can easily purchase during clinic registration.

For those attending the entire clinic, the Triathlon Ontario yearly membership is a better deal. If you already have a current Triathlon Ontario (TO) or Discomfort Zone Multisport Triathlon Club (DZM) membership, the CCN registration site will already have you on file. Easy!

If you are a new member or your membership isn’t current, the registration system will ask you to update your Triathlon Ontario membership. You can also join Discomfort Zone Multisport (DZM) at the same time.

Why do I need a Triathlon Ontario membership?

Short answer: insurance.

Triathlon Ontario is the governing body for triathlon, winter triathlon, cross triathlon, duathlon, aquathlon, and aquabike in Ontario. Insurance for triathlon related events, like races, club workouts, camps, and these clinics is all done through Triathlon Ontario. Only Triathlon Ontario members are insured.

With your Triathlon Ontario membership you can also purchase additional injury insurance and bike insurance, at much more reasonable rates than available elsewhere.

Triathlon Ontario also provides officials, expertise, training, and advocacy for multisport in Ontario, as well as support for high-performance athlete development and coaching. Your membership dues support all these activities.

Triathlon Ontario members do not have to pay the one-day membership fee when they race in Ontario. Also, there is a discount for Triathlon Ontario members on registration fees for many clubs, and activities, including Discomfort Zone clinics.

What’s Discomfort Zone Multisport?

Discomfort Zone Multisport Triathlon Club (DZM for short) is our own triathlon club for DZ athletes. Everyone is welcome to join.

We offer a discounted Triathlon Ontario membership included in DZM, as well as additional discounts on DZ gear, clinics, camps, and training days, and a nifty swag bag as well. If you’re planning on attending more than one DZ clinic, getting some DZ cycling or triathlon gear, or attending a destination camp, DZM pays for itself.

DZM members can join our weekly group rides, annual holiday activities, the DZ Aerobic Challenge, and the DZ Random Relay. We also compete as a team for Triathlon Ontario and IRONMAN club championships.

You can register for DZM here or as part of clinic registration.

How to Register

How can I register for Discomfort Zone triathlon clinics?

Click the appropriate link below to register online. We use the same online registration system as Triathlon Ontario and the Ontario Cycling Association.

Winter Clinic Registration

Spring Clinic Registration

Fall Clinic Registration