Team Nagi Coaching Newsletter – Nov/Dec 2019
It’s that time of year when I write the final newsletter of 2019. This one is a combination of November & December as a couple of our athletes were racing at IM Western Australia. I’ve gone into these performances in a little bit more detail this month because we had less athletes racing and there were some great learning’s from each of them.
On reflection what a year it’s been. There have been great highs, lows and everything in between. Can I just say a very big thank you to all of you for being part been part of what I do in some way shape and form. Your efforts continue to inspire me on a daily basis and I can’t wait to kick of 2020 with you. Never has my own motivation been higher to keep helping you helping you raise the bar to the next level performance.
As we head into the Christmas period I thought it would be really worthwhile for me to remind you all of an article I wrote a few years back on how to best tackle this tricky Christmas period. Many of you have asked about how to go about this so please enjoy reading or re-reading ‘The 5 F’s of Christmas’ below, it’s a very timely reminder:
The 5 F’s of Christmas
The Christmas period can be one of the most challenging times of the year for many triathletes, more so than at any other time of the year. It’s often a time when training consistency will be challenged the most largely due to a large number of social and family commitments. For many it can feel like a recipe for disaster.
What makes it worse is that many triathletes have already started their training for 2020 and are starting to feel their fitness return. It’s a period of training where the greatest gains are being made because you are starting from such a low base. This progression is then abruptly interrupted by Christmas.
Each year I see athlete getting worried about not being able to maintain the same level of training consistency through this period. They also have an ongoing battle in their heads because they feel they are losing ground because they are doing less training. Obsessive compulsiveness rises to new levels and athletes will do anything to get all of their workouts done, even if it means fitting a weeks training into 3 days to accommodate everything!
Mentally it’s far better to accept that December is unlike any other month of the year, so a change of mindset can play huge dividends. It’s all about finding a good balance because there is simply no other month like it for all of the reasons I’ve listed above. It’s a time where you need to be flexible in your training approach, you should also accept that there is more to life than just swimming, biking & running.
There’s also an opportunity here to bring a new positive element to your training plan. I know my athletes will train hard, but the biggest challenge I face is actually making sure my athletes rest enough and have a good training-work-life balance. It’s so important athletes take time out to spend time with their family & friends because it enriches the training process. The love and energy you get from people is quite often underestimated. Training well is not just about the training itself; it’s also about feeling spiritually, mentally and emotionally fulfilled in all areas of your life. That’s why the Christmas period should be welcomed because it’s a time where you can stock up on all of the above. This special energy will then help fire your motivation for the start of your 2020 campaign.
When athletes ask me what they should focus on over Christmas period, I tell them to prioritise the 5 F’s:
It’s not that the training needs to stop, far from it. But you should factor in these elements as being something of a priority in this period. Training is what you do with the time left over so try not to be too rigid in your structure. Going with what you feel is manageable is always a good barometer at this time of the year.
I would also suggest if you are going to train over this period that you do something a little bit different from the norm, think a bit more outside of the box. One of my favourite sessions I used to love doing each year was my Christmas day morning run around Cardiff; this would take in all of the areas that I grew up in and remember as a child. I would run past my old schools, playing fields, through the City centre, around the Millennium stadium and up into the beautiful Welsh mountains to say hello to the sheep. Sometimes it would be 10 miles but other years it could go up to 20miles if I was really enjoying myself. This was probably my most favourite training session of the entire year because doing it brought back so many great memories of growing up, it also meant I could eat a double serving of Christmas dinner & dessert.
I like call these sessions ‘nostalgia sessions’ and every athlete should have a number of them to give them a much-needed boost when they need it. You just have to find what works for you and then lock them away until they are needed. It really isn’t about the distance it’s about doing something that you feel will warm the soul and make you feel good in the time you have available. Even if that means sitting on a turbo trainer in a quiet room for an hour to get away from the in-laws! You could also call these ‘sanity sessions’. They all have value, just choose the session wisely.
So my best advice is to expect December to be a different month that can bring so much to you if you allow it too. A sensible balanced approach will always work best and will help to keep everyone happy. You might even have lots of spare time to train so get out there and do it, you will be a better person for it.
Just don’t forget to eat, drink and be merry and don’t feel guilty for doing it, you will only benefit from it in the long run. It’s all part of the training process that will help fuel your motivation for a successful 2020.
Team Race News
Ironman Western Australia
- Emily Loughnan
- Splits: 55:21 swim/ 5:09:22 bike/ 3:01:04 run
- Total Time: 9:10:46
- 7th Female Pro
- Next up: Geelong 70.3
To sum up this race we could say that Lougher’s had a great swim (2nd out of the water), an amazing run (3rd fastest/ New PB) and then somewhere in the middle her legs seemed to have deserted her! Sometimes in races there are things that you can find explanations for and some things that are just unexplainable, this race was one of those races and for whatever reason when Emily hit the bike the legs were just empty. Her power was lower than it has ever been and her speed just kept dropping and dropping. She actually considered giving up several times because there was just no gas in the tank but managed to find something to keep pushing on. Then in one of the most important moments Emily will look back on as an athlete she was forced to make a decision between pulling the plug at the end of the bike or going out for the run…I’m pleased to say she chose the latter and put in one of her greatest ever run performances.
If anyone wants to know where mental toughness is built it’s in moment like that, when you decide against all the odds to just say to yourself “f**k it, I’m not giving in to this and I’m going to go out there and do my best”.
What was even more frustrating is that Emily had just put in some of the best training of her life leading into this race both mentally and physically. It’s been wonderful to see this ongoing transformation and she has much to be proud of. She was yet again incredibly unlucky to pick up a chest infection 2 weeks out and maybe this played some part because she lost a week of training just before the race, but then how does one explain the ability to swim and run like that? This is triathlon racing for you in a nutshell and what makes that optimal performance so elusive, for whatever reason on race day there’s usually something that doesn’t quite go to plan. Sometimes there are clear explanations for these things and sometimes there isn’t, what we do know is that the bike didn’t in anyway reflect where her bike fitness is at. What I do know is this race has made her hungrier than ever before because it offers a small glimpse into what she will be capable of when the stars do align for her.
- Elvira Stromback
- Splits: 1:10:02 swim/ 5:41:07 bike/ 4:32:36 run
- Total Time: 11:26:36
- 10th female 40-44 category
- Next up: Jonkoping 70.3
I’ll start by saying that like with Emily I was so proud of what these 2 girls did at this race even though they might have felt disappointed with the overall result. Elvira also put in her the best 3 months of training I’ve ever seen her complete, we finally find the right way to train for her and it was awesome to see how she improved from week to week. Unfortunately during race week things started to unravel and it’s a lesson for many of you out there about race week preparation.
Firstly there was the shock of going from living in such a cold climate in Sweden to landing in Perth where it was incredibly hot that week. The acclimatisation time was too short because the jet-lag also kicked in really badly when she arrived. This massively affected her sleep, then because she wasn’t sleeping she started to worry she wasn’t getting enough sleep and then it all starts to snowball. On arriving at the race venue she then realised she had booked into a shared room with her parents who were both loud snorers! 2 night before the race Elvira was sleeping on the floor in the bathroom.
The race day she just felt flat as a pancake right throughout the race and wanted to give up at every stage of it. She basically had Emily’s bike experience but in all 3 disciplines. What we realised just afterwards through tracking was that the race coincided with her highest hormone day of her menstrual cycle. If ever there is a time for a female athlete to feel awful and underperform it’s at this time when energy is low and the body capacity to regulate heat is at it’s most inefficient. This is a lesson for all you ladies out there because tracking this can be crucial for many if you are looking to find that optimal performance. It can also offer answers that explain why sometimes you just dont seem to have it in training or racing no matter how hard you try.
What complicates this further is that each of you will have a different response to racing during these high hormone phases where it will affect some of you far more than others. The trend I’ve seen is that:
1: It affects some very little
2: It makes training & racing much harder for a very high percentage of you
3: For others it makes it almost impossible to train or race due to some very debilitating symptoms
See the Instagram of post below of top female Pro Suzie Cheetham as a classic example of this (and for those that still haven’t read it I cant recommend this book highly enough if you want it understand your body better as a woman – ROAR by Dr Stacy Sims).
But the positive we take from this is that Elvira didn’t give up, she kept on trying and came away from the race knowing that it wasn’t her mind that let her down, it was just her body and she had no control over it. What was actually clear to her on reflection was how much tougher she realised she is than she originally thought. This is huge and will again form the bedrock of a performance she we know she is capable of going forwards when the timing is right.
- Steve Drew
- Splits: 1:22:48 swim/ 5:06:29 bike/ 4:05:17 run
- Total Time: 10:48:50
- 50-54 category
- Next up: A very long rest
After a tough turbulent year for Steve this race was probably one too many but it’s a mark of the man that he could actually find a performance like this. In the months leading into the race much was disrupted within the training process. With a body that has also been creaking for sometime and a shoulder pretty much preventing any quality swim training in the months leading into the race he was forced to have an injection just 2 weeks out. Not the ideal situation at all but one Steve was prepared to take if he was to have any chance of racing.
The fact that he even finished the swim was impressive but he then fell into the trap of thinking because he had done a slower swim he could make up for it on the bike by going harder. It was a fantastic bike time for sure but the over exuberant early bike pacing put pay to the run we were looking for. It’s a big lesson out there for many and a trap that many continually fall into. Get your bike pacing right and the run will come through at the end.
The big man will now take well earned end of season break. I’ve no doubt he will then come back fighting fit with renewed energy to conquer 2020.
Otillo Swim-run Malta (9km swim/30km run)
- Anna John + Sarah Larkham
- Total Time: 7:23:25
- 50-54 make category
- Next up: Knowing these two work hard play hard ladies…plenty of bubbles.
When Anna tells me a race is tough, then I know it’s very tough! The photos below tell the story, it was brutal out there for out two tough ladies from Team ‘Fabulous fifties’. They battled wind, rain and sea one of the toughest swim-run courses out there but managed to come through it with flying colours. Bravo ladies!
I absolutely loved this film and can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s the story of a humble man, from an even more humble background who took on the running world and won in one of the greatest running races of all time. It’s also the story of two people David Rudisha and his legendary Coach Brother Colm O’Connell (known as the Godfather of Kenyan running) who came together and against all odds made history together.
A beautiful film, a beautiful runner and a story that will inspire you to keep putting one foot in front of the other.
Athlete Interview – Jan Issling
Name: Jan Issling
Age: Turning 44 in January
Star sign: Aquarius
Years in triathlon:
New to training again after a break of 3 years since doing Weymouth 70.3 in 2016
In another life you would have been a..?
Quarterback in NFL
Who is your athletic alter ego?
Must be a Jan….would love to say Jan Frodeno but it is probably closer to Jan Ulrich
Favourite training session:
Anything bike or turbo
Least favourite training session:
Granny Shuffle (so far most of the time in the rain)
Favourite training track (music!):
No Leaf Clover (Metallica)
Straight Flush ( Ben Mezrich)
Favourite training venue/location:
I love the mountains so I would go for
outdoor pool in St. Anton or cycling in the Dolomites
Favourite race experience: only done Weymouth 70.3 so don’t have any choice here
Happy Wife, happy Life ( the only chance to survive in the jungle out there)
If you could choose 3 famous people to come to dinner with you who would they be & why?
Bill Gates ( smart, inspiring,philanthropist )
James Hetfield ( love the music, knows how to party)
Victoria Silvstedt ( Bill, James and I need some Eyecandy at the table)
Training hours per week: 10-12h
What are your training & race goals for 2020?
Training goals….try not to miss too many sessions.
Race goals…I want to compete in my first 140.6 Ironman in Hamburg in June!
Depends how this goes there might still be a late race like Barcelona in October on the plate.
Team Nagi out & about
Always a joy to see one of your athletes ‘really’ smiling when out there racing. With the amount of fans she has down there I secretly think she would have dipped under 3 hours if she hadn’t high fived them all!
And that support extends to the UK! Team Loughnan-Prem doing what they do best right here in London.
What a bunch of amazing glamorous people, hardly recognise any of you out of lycra! Team Nagi swim squad Christmas drinks. Thanks to all of you that could make it, your efforts were massively appreciated this year.
Santa’s little helper, so cute
Nothing will stop this tough lady, up to her knees in muck yet again. Tough Mudder next for this one.
Team Nagi do Singapore (and not a fruity cocktail in sight!)
Rod was under strict instructions recently to take it easy on his holiday…or is that ‘Rod Bond 008’?
Always good to see one of my French athletes taking up Coaches off-season restaurant recommendations in a visit to London. For those that don’t know…Indian Zing in Hammersmith, delish.