Team Nagi Coaching Newsletter – April 2021
Well what a month April has been, so many good things all happening at once I’m happy to report. Restrictions have been lowered, gyms are open, pool swimming is back, the sun has been shining and most importantly Coach was able to get his first hair cut. What a remarkable feeling it was to feel more human once again. We also managed to get 2 x Team Nagi swimmers & a team swim hat on the front page of ‘The Times’ newspaper this month which was a double bonus (nice work PM & TW!)
There’s no doubt about it April has proved to be nothing short of ‘The Big Transition’. I can’t remember a time where so many changes to an athletes training all seemed to collide at once. This has lead to some big shake-ups in training structure as the race season starts to rear its head. What a godsend to finally add swimming back into the mix too! Gone are the days of just pure bike-run programs and the excessive load this creates on the legs each week. Now we welcome back that dear old friend to provide the program the balance we all know and love. We’ve all missed it and it was simply wonderful to see so many of you relishing being back in the pool.
From a coaching point of view it’s been fascinating to watch the return of my squad swimmers. Who after 4 weeks of swimming are now really starting to find their groove. After such a long time out it was always going to take 4 weeks before that strength and depth started to return. The build up needed to be slow yet progressive. By the 4th week they were really starting to fire again. The foundation has been rebuilt and gives us the super strong platform to move to the next level.
What was particularly great to see was so many swimmers starting to use bands pre-swim to warm up their shoulders, I wrote about this in my previous newsletter and already many of you are feeling the benefit of having shoulders that a far less tight when you actually start to swim. That 5mins you spend poolside is worth its weight in gold so long may it continue.
The training focus for most triathletes that have races coming up moves into what we call the ‘competition phase’. This is a time where we take the strong foundation of fitness built over the past few months and we start to prepare the body and mind for the demands of racing. Never forget that many of you haven’t raced for a very long time, up to 2 years in some cases! So you expect to be a bit rusty initially. This next phase will be so important to help your body remember what it is like to be back out there again. We can simulate this really well in training with race simulation efforts that will become the key sessions of the week.
It’s also an important time to put your thinking caps on because it’s during these sessions you will need to test out anything you plan to use while out there racing. Set this day up like a race scenario and just be creative. If that means you have to use a wetsuit in the pool, practice a wetsuit strip poolside then to drive home from the pool and then jump on the turbo before heading out onto the run that’s exactly what you do. Be sure to pre-prep all of this the night before so it’s as seamless as possible. Multiple and double brick sessions are worth their weight in gold in this next phase, I’m often astonished at the number of athletes I speak to that don’t actually practice these things in training and expect it all just to come together on race day.
Other things to test will be race kit and race nutrition, leave no stone unturned because I promise you it’s that one thing that you fail to assess that will always come back to bite you on race day. With regards to kit comfort and wearability is key, as for nutrition you need to find what works for you. This is especially important for long course athletes as it could be the make or break your race so ask yourself:
- What will I be eating to settle my stomach the day before the race?
- What will I be eating for breakfast on race day?
- How many calories do I need per hour during racing for bike and run?
- What products will I be using?
- How do I plan to carry this on race day?
Be sure to do your research so you know what’s available on the course on the day. This can usually be found on the race websites, if not email the race organiser.
Then test, test and test during these race simulation workouts. It will then evolve on a week-to-week basis as you dial it in and refine it. Once you know what works for you the confidence boost this will give you will be huge. It doesn’t need to be complicated at all, I did some of my best ever races on half a snickers bar + 500-750ml of carb drink (750ml if hotter) per hour, then just coke and water on the run. But that’s what worked for me after many races of nutritional failure with products that just didn’t work for me on the day.
Also be sure to get happy and settled with your TT position on the bike. So if you plan to be aero for most of your bike segment then practising it both out on the road and on your turbo trainer is crucial. Also practice this position whilst putting down race pace efforts outside to see if it actually feels comfortable, it can feel very different when out on the road. Also don’t neglect that expensive aero helmet that’s gathering dust you plan on using on race day. That will need bedding in and testing too, don’t just leave it to race day because you might be in for a shock.
Most importantly think of this as a fun process that you tweak from week to week. You might arrive at where you need to be pretty quickly and then you can just get focussed on the training. Just don’t keep putting it off because race day will rear its head much quicker than you think and you need to be ready.
Team race news
With all this talk of racing I’m hugely pleased to announce that we have already had 2 athletes racing this month (whoop whoop!). First off congrats to Andrew Reardon for taking up the challenge of outdoor time trials by nailing 24:40 at the Newbury Velo 10 mile TT. The learnings he took away from these efforts were huge, particularly in relation to pacing and bike position. Adjustments have already been made in the tinkering process to get it just right, as it did feel very different from efforts on the turbo.
“I learned more about my bike position in 24mins time trialling than I did in hundreds of hours spent on the turbo trainer. It enabled me to tune my position to a point where I’m almost looking forward to 5hrs in the TT position! ” Andrew Reardon
Huge congrats to Team Nagi newbie Tony Jarvis who also competed at the Bedford Sprint Duathlon posting 1:15:25 (5.4k run 22:37/ 23km bike 39:40/ 2.6km run 11:14)
Great start to the season TJ!
We are off and running guys and girls, plenty more to come.
Book of the month
“Why? I’ve heard the question many times. It’s not something I ask myself – I just have a certainty that I want to do it. Perhaps the need is the reason; but why then do I have the need? When I hear about some feat of physical endurance, it normally feels obvious why the person is doing it. Why wouldn’t they? Why wouldn’t a swimmer swim across an immense body of water? Why wouldn’t a climber climb an especially difficult mountain? Why wouldn’t a cyclist want to test themselves day after day? I love hearing about these great feats and can relate to them; I sometimes wish it were me doing them. There are so many reasons why that to choose just one neglects the others. It is my sport and I love the feeling of movement. There is the sense of achievement and of having got the most from myself. More recently, I’ve been running to earn the privilege of an international vest. With or without the vest, I always have the desire to win a race or achieve a new personal best or some other target. Then there is the mental wellbeing that flows from the effort, from the planning and the sense of purpose. The added richness that challenges bring to our lives, and the chance to see the world in a different way. The feeling of extreme physical fitness, and the sense of belonging and community.” (from “One Track Mind: What Running 150 Miles in a Day Can Teach You About Life” by Michael Stocks)
Ever wondered what goes through a persons mind whilst running for 24 hours around a 400m running track? Funnily enough it’s a thought I’ve actually pondered. I’ve read many books on ultra & extreme running but never one purely about running this kind of challenge. This is the story of one man’s challenge to try and qualify run for England at the 24 hour track running World Championships.
It is brilliantly written, with each small chapter at certain distance containing his thoughts for that part of the race. So many golden nuggets in here on training, racing, life and relationships. Michael has wonderfully positive outlook on the world and the trials and tribulations that we have to deal with. Definitely a book for now that will only lift the spirits.
Podcast of the month
There’s a lot any person of any age can learn from this extraordinary young man. Billy Monger was a rising star in the world of motorsport with dreams of racing in Formula 1 one day when he was tragically involved in a horrific crash that saw him nearly lose his life. He lost both of his legs in the accident, he was just 17.
Now at the age of 21 he is wise beyond his years with an attitude & outlook on life that is truly awe-inspiring. He recently completed his first ever ‘Ironman’ challenge walking, cycling and kayaking 140 miles raising £3million for Comic Relief. For someone so young he truly is a breath of fresh air to listen to.
TN Swimmer Q & A
Name.: Dan Korn
Age: 51 (unfortunately…)
Star sign: Cancer
Years swimming: 45
Occupation: TV executive
In another life you would have been a..? Porpoise
Who is your athletic alter ego? Steve Ovett
Favourite training session:
Anything around 3k with some repeat 100s and lots of technique drills (and with Si Evans in the lane, if he could possibly find his way back to training….)
Least favourite training session:
Not sure I have one – I pretty much enjoy them all and if I’m not enjoying it, it’s usually my own mind-set rather than the session…
Favourite swim drill: Single arm with fins
Favourite swim kit: Snorkel
Favourite book: Of Human Bondage by Somerset Maugham
Last book you read:
Slough House by Mick Herron (shortly to be a tv series with Gary Oldman as Jackson Lamb)
Favourite swim venue/location:
David Lloyd Acton of course, with the one and only Julian Nagi on poolside
Favourite event experience:
Hanging with my bro at the Norfolk Masters in Bury St Edmunds, way back when…
Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger
If you could choose 3 famous people to come to dinner with you who would they be & why?
JFK – I’m an avid watcher of US politics and he had so much charm, grace and wit…
Arthur Miller – my favourite playwright (although might be a bit awkward bearing in mind the Marilyn Monroe connection with JFK…)
Muhammed Ali – for all the obvious reasons….The Greatest
[If they all have to be alive today, probably Scarlett Johansson, Adam Peaty and Idris Elba]
Training hours per week:
3 in the water / 2 on land (not nearly enough, I hear you say…)
Goals for 2021?
To try and make the most of every training session and to keep my mind and body in decent shape. Swimming with the Nagi squad has been a savior for me since I joined many moons ago. A really lovely group of kind, supportive people, and a physical regimen and structure which, for me personally, has been vital for my mental health and self-esteem. When I’m swimming and reasonably fit, all is ok with the world. When I’m not, I struggle. Thank you Team Nagi for keeping me on the straight-and-narrow. See you poolside.
Instagram posts of the month
Team Nagi out & about
Well she was 38 weeks pregnant until this little ripper arrived! Welcome to the world Max Leo Kelly, our newest Team Nagi recruit. Huge congrats Emily & Brett. When I asked her how it went she replied…”Now that makes Kona seem like a walk in the park”
Must be baby month. Cleo Van Meerwijk is way cuter than her Dad will ever be and is already doing more foam rolling
Races are back!
No changing rooms, no problem…just keep smiling
Sauna for one!
Aero helmet issues…it’s good to test
Yes Peter a haircut will definitely make you swim faster
Taking recovery VERY seriously…cheers
Girls are back in action
The only man I know that can turn up with a mug of tea poolside on Saturday morning for a swim squad that doesn’t exist. He’s keen if nothing else!