triathlon coaching Virginia

Ed Zerkle

Founder & Head Coach

Team Z was founded by Coach Ed Zerkle, a former collegiate swimmer and successful age-group triathlete, multiple Ironman finisher, USA Triathlon Certified Coach, and former head coach for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training Program. Ed worked for many years as a business consultant for IBM Global (via C&L, PwC) and Booz Allen Hamilton. When the opportunity was presented, Ed decided to change his focus and combine his love of triathlon and his strong business sense to build Team Z into what it is today.


Team Z was formed in the summer of 2005. After years of leading teams of all sorts of athletes in their preparation for group fundraising triathlons, twenty-three of Coach Ed’s former trainees asked him to form a team of his own. These triathletes asked Ed to coach them for an Ironman distance triathlon in the same group training environment they had become accustomed to.

At that point, the triathlon community had not figured out how to service the needs of athletes of all abilities and backgrounds in a sustainable, fun, non-intimidating and supportive environment. The triathlon world then was thought to be reserved only for the elite athlete, the super fit, and only for a certain demographic. Ed listened to his team members, broke with the traditional triathlon mold, and responded to the members’ requests by forming Team Z.

Since then, with his emphasis on inclusion, education, and quality training programs, Coach Ed has grown Team Z from 23 founding members to more than 200 athletes, with accomplished and positive workout leaders and coach-led training sessions each week throughout Virginia and the DC Metro area.

What is Team Z all about?

Team Z is all about having fun, building a sense of community, and adopting a healthy lifestyle. That’s not to say that we don’t take our training seriously! We believe it is important to work hard to achieve our goals and have fun spending time with our teammates along the way. We have proven time and time again that you can be a successful and serious athlete and enjoy yourself at the same time. Everyone can do it.

The reason our members can accomplish their goals with consistency is a credit to the organization and culture of our team, and that all starts with vision. To drive a community in a common direction, you need to set a common goal. Once the goal has been set, all you need to be successful is an intelligent plan to guide you, and a little bit of support along the way.

Setting the Common Goal

Each year our team picks out common set of goals (also known as a race calendar). The race calendar is diverse and will accommodate all abilities and backgrounds. The race calendar will include options for members to participate as individuals or as part of a relay. Members will be able to choose their own path through the year including racing Aquabike, Duathlon, or Triathlon of all distances. We even include events like open water swimming, masters swim meets, 5k’s, 10k’s, ½ marathons and marathons.

You do not ever have to do a team race. You can participate in any race you choose, even if it is not on our team’s calendar. Members will pick and choose among our options and set their own individual goals for the year and you will lean on Coach Ed for guidance. Once you have set the goal, Coach Ed will then be able to give you “the intelligent plan” that will prepare you for your event.

Developing the Plan

Finalization of our annual race calendar is what drives the planning of our training, social and group training events, guest’s speakers, etc. Everything we do as a team is coordinated and planned in support of helping our members perform and achieve at those events. You will grow to expect a higher level of service when you attend a “team race” including hospitality for you and your family and friends. While attending team races is encouraged and fun, members never required to race with us and are also encouraged to participate in events that are no listed in our plan. That happens all the time.

Since Team Z “never ends”, new members are always joining the team after they have committed to different goals. That’s ok. Coach Ed will help tailor a plan for you. Maybe you’ll end up at a different race one day, but you can count on the fact that your long ride on the weekend will be at the same time and place as the rest of the team. Ed’s got your back, and he works hard to make sure that everyone feels welcome and included regardless of individual goals.

Communicating the Plan

Once the race calendar is in place, Coach Ed will plan the entire year in advance. People are busy and life needs to be coordinated as much as the colors of your training gear (wink). People’s first priorities should be their family, community, and job. Training fr triathlon is supposed to be fun, not another stress in your life. Coach Ed will share the annual plan with the membership so that you can let Team Z fill the cracks.