Team Nagi Coaching Newsletter – July 2020
So let’s start this month’s newsletter with the hugely exciting news that on Sat 25th July 2020 (Let’s mark this date), 133 days after they first closed health clubs and swimming pools were finally allowed to open again (Whoop whoop!). I can’t help but admit it that I felt a little bit emotional when it was finally announced. I have well and truly missed our beautiful pool and the amazing people I get to coach in it. When you have worked somewhere for 20 years the feelings and connections run deep and there’s nothing quite like time away from something to realise how much you really do appreciate it.
It was also hugely exciting to be told that I could re-start my swim squads and video analysis sessions back at the club. Monday 27th was our first session and the joy was for all to see on my swimmers faces as they pootled out one by one. It was so good to see them again, the relief and excitement to be back was for all to see as they jumped into our glistening swimming pool. The next few weeks will be fun and gently progressive as we re-acquaint ourselves with the team’s spiritual home and the art of swimming well once again.
The other great news this month was the BTF lifting the ban on all triathlon races. It looks like we will be getting a small race season after all for 2020. This will kick off with what I believe is the first triathlon in the UK since lockdown on Sunday 2nd August – The Cotswold Classic middle distance race. One of our athletes (Andrew Reardon) has got very lucky with this one, as he had entered it many months ago. Never have we been more excited to see a race number appear in the post, let’s hope its the first of many and the very best of luck to Andrew.
While the world resembles something out of the ‘COVID-19 Wild West’ at the moment its important to take a step back and appreciate the good things that are happening out there. With so much uncertainty still ahead of us it’s been truly astonishing to witness the resilience and persistence demonstrated by our athletes during this period. Perhaps that’s something to be said about the nature & character of triathletes as a whole, they are deeply resilient, hugely resourceful and willing to take on whatever challenge is presented in front of them. I can only say I feel incredibly proud to work with such committed, adaptable and positive people on a daily basis. As much as it’s my job to lift them it’s their actions I see each day that lifts me too. They all have a deeply personal story to tell through this period and these experiences will only strengthen them for the future in terms of the athletes they will become.
When I look at my team of athletes at the moment it presents a fascinating cross section of people all in very different places. Some are:
- Still happy to be in full bore training for races that may go ahead in the coming weeks and months
- Others are re-starting their training after an initial break for potential races that may happen towards the end of this year
- Some will be taking a break now or very soon so they are ready and motivated to start their prep for 2021
- Whilst some are just training to stay fit well without a race focus on the horizon but still want to be accountable to someone. They are using it as a period to have some structure, routine and stability to their daily lives whilst improving their overall fitness.
Each an every athlete is different and we are basing our training plan decisions on so many factors that are personal to each athlete, whilst having to accept the uncertainty of the current situation. What is crucial is we formulate individual plans based on athlete’s own motivation and experiences this year. A year that has been unlike any other. Creativity and adaptability has never been more important to help athletes stay sane through this period. For many it’s been mentally far better to have structure than to fall off the wagon and have no structure at all.
What’s been incredibly interesting to watch is how different coaches & athletes all around the world have approached these uncertain times. Challenging times have been known to foster creativity and never has this been truer in triathlon. Some of the challenges I’ve seen pro’s and age groupers attempt are:
- Run a 5km or 10km PB with 8-12 weeks of focussed training
- Time trial focussed efforts on the swim or bike/turbo over a multitude of distances
- Taking part in online racing through virtual reality platforms
- Simulating their own sprint or Olympic distance race every month
It’s clear that some athletes love attacking personal challenges whereas others love the competition of pitting themselves against others. Then we are looking at either working towards a very long-term goal (Kona 2021 for example) or a short term goals to improve specific areas. Or just a good mix of the two to provide the right level of challenge required to keep the motivational fire burning.
One former Ironman World Champion (Miranda Carfrae) said she’s doing 3 weeks of structured work and then 1 week of ‘whatever right now’ and is obviously thoroughly enjoying it. This gives her the opportunity to stay fit and well but offers her a great reward at the end of the 3-week period to rest and spend time with her family.
I know another Coach who’s implemented a challenge for his athletes to bike/turbo every day for a month, whilst ticking of certain challenging sessions to accrue points. All done to help team bonding whilst getting really bike fit with a short-term focused goal.
What’s also interesting are the honest conversations that I’m having to have with all my athletes who are training for potential races this year. We have to consider the “what if the race is cancelled scenario?”. These conversations are so important to have so there is a back up plan, which could potentially lighten the disappointment somewhat. For these athletes there needs to be an end point or closure to their season, with so much focussed work done it would be a shame to not use it. When I asked one athlete what the wanted to do his answer was simply “I’ve never done the Ironman distances so I will aim to do them on the day planned so I have the confidence to know I can do it before I take on the challenge again next year”. Several athletes have also said the same thing but have spiced it up with trying to run an Ironman distance run PB after a solo swim and bike.
What am I trying to show you? The possibilities are endless. Just do what’s right for you but be sure it motivates you and keep it fun. If you are an athlete that doesn’t work well when you are ‘rudderless’ then finding some kind of challenge will be crucial to guide you through these crazy times. Think of these challenges as building blocks which will steer you through these rough seas we are experiencing but will ultimately put you in the best place possible for the performances you want to produce some time in the not too distant future.
Training should be thought of as your greatest form of therapy right now, it’s the thing that will help carry you through. It’s meditative qualities are unparalleled and it’s the one time you can shut out the rest of the world. This gives your mind that much needed breathing space and that important you time. The world is always a better place after a training session, so stick with it, stay in the game and before you know it we’ll all slowly start to come out the other side.
As special film and a very special athlete. This incredibly powerful film charts the life story of college American Football player Freddie Steinmark. What Freddie lacked in size he more than made up for with courage & determination to succeed.
The film is based on the book ‘Courage beyond the game’: The Freddie Steinmark Story by Jim Dent. I wont say too much on this one other than don’t read anything about it, just watch it. This is a rare gem of a true story that will make your appreciate each and every moment you are able to be out there pursuing your athletic goals.
In BE with Champions, Greg Bennett chats with the world’s greatest athletes and high-performers to find out how they got the top of the world and how are they able to sustain it.
Instagram posts of the month
Athlete Q & A – Chris Jansen (Happy 50th Birthday tough guy!)
Name: Chris Jansen
Star sign: Cancer
Years in triathlon: 13
Working in schools….or not over the last 5 months.
In another life you would have been a..?
Surgeon, as I would love the responsibility, and ability to really genuinely help people.
Who is your athletic alter ego?
Eddie The Eagle….a real trier, never gave up.
Favourite training session:
Cycling up any Col in France
Least favourite training session:
Never have a bad session, as I just happen to have the world’s best coach.
Favourite training track (music!):
Titanium, David Guetta.
Umm….don’t read too many books as my coach writes me these ridiculously long training plans. But I love “If” by Rudyard Kipling, that hangs in my study at home.
Favourite training venue/location:
Anywhere on my bike, so long as I am just a foot behind my wife, Lucie.
Favourite race experience:
Hobbling over the line at the Frankfurt Ironman in a 40-degree heatwave, when 1/3 of the field didn’t finish.
“If a job’s worth doing, it is worth doing properly.”
If you could choose 3 famous people to come to dinner with you who would they be & why?
Baron Philippe de Rothschild, to provide the world’s best wine, Gordon Ramsey, the world’s best food, and a table for two with my wife, Lucie for the best company in the world.
Training hours per week:
Normally falling consistently short of 10 hours, but in lockdown, consistently above that……helped by being able to join meetings, just in the nick of time, in my cycling shorts, but with a collared shirt on the top half.
What are your training & race goals for 2021?
Keep fit, healthy, and complete the Austrian Ironman, beating my previous 4 (slow) times.
Team Nagi out & about
Double Italian trouble in the dolomites (think they’ve hidden the red wine & tirimasu)
Let’s go troops, early Saturday morning swimming at Haven lake…Anna John about to lead the charge!
Is bigger always better? Not bad though…must be the summer hols with all the funky pool pics I’m receiving
Is there anything that can stop this badass?…not even a broken wrist. Time to get creative to get this tough girl to the start line at Ironman France
Keep your distance swimmers…these swans are vicious!
Our favourite Spaniard in his element in Alicante…just wish he’d stop sending me delicious food pics everyday
See what I mean…but when in Spain…
Jersey versus Guernsey – GO LOU!
Now this is what I call sensible cooling while turning outdoors in the heat…it’s not about getting a sun tan you know!
Team Butler go green to be seen for 2020-2021!
So excited to back
…and we got some swimming done (in between the chatting and jumping in and out of the pool)