Team Nagi Coaching Newsletter – Sept 2020
Writing the newsletter this month very much felt like the calm after the storm. The storm being the crazy build up to build up to races many of you experienced, the calm is that many of you have now moved into your end of season rest & recovery phase. For many of you who’s season has been stretched out far longer than you ever imagined this has been much needed. The stresses and strains you have all been under have been like no other.
The importance of this break from training is crucial. It’s why I insist with most of my athletes take a minimum of a 4 week break from structured training to close their year. My message is usually very clear when we reach this point; go away, have some fun, get a little bit fat and do all of the things you that you wouldn’t normally but would want to do if you weren’t so focussed on your training. For me this time is one of the most important phases of the year for any athlete. The reason is being is because it helps you regain the mental and physical energy to attack the new season ahead in 2021.
Never underestimate what a training cycle takes out of you; this has been a training cycle that has been like no other with all that has been going on in the world. As motivated as you might think you feel your batteries will be extremely low and will need to be significantly re-charged. You do this by doing all of the above and by being social creatures once again. Spend quality time with loved ones and just have fun; this is the best source of energy for any athlete at this time of the year.
What’s been so great to see many of you getting the opportunity to race this month. Never have I enjoyed writing a newsletter so much and seeing all the great photos that came in. They speak volumes about the experiences you had. There have been highs and lows for everyone as is usually the case but there has some extraordinary performances for all sorts of reasons.
What will have hampered many athletes this year is the lack of racing and the stresses they experienced just trying to get to their races. For many athletes it usually takes a few races before they start finding that peak form as they build from one race to the next. This just wasn’t possible this year and so all the eggs were firmly placed in one basket. Only one of my athletes has had the chance to do 2 races this year.
Those most affected were the ‘Ironman Tallinn 5’. It really is a miracle they all made it out to Estonia with what they had to go through. Right up to race week there was still even doubts that the race was going ahead but they took their chances and were greatly rewarded for it when the race went ahead. Each one of them appreciated the fact that they had made it out there and they got a chance to put all their hard work throughout the year to good use. Never have 5 athletes been more grateful for that.
Letting go of 2020 has been tough for so many of you out there who didn’t get the chance to put some phenomenal training to good use. Some got lucky and others didn’t but that was always going to be the case this year. For those of you that didn’t get that chance take comfort in the knowledge you added another layer of hugely important training into your body, which will pay huge dividends at a later stage in the future. We learned a hell of a lot in this period and not just from a training point of view, we also saw how tough, strong and mentally resilient many you were when the world was flipped on it’s head. All essential qualities of Ironman athletes. We also saw how important training was to create the stability you needed in life to help you through get through this period.
The other message I give to my athletes when they feel like they are ready to chat to me about re-starting their training cycle for 2021 is to take one more week. The reason being is because I want them to be chomping before starting again. If you don’t feel like this then you aren’t ready so take all the time you need, deep down you’ll know when that time is right. Don’t force it, be patient and let it come to you.
Team Race News
It was a mixed bag of performances for sure and a race they will all learn great lessons from. Huge congrats to Joep who put out and outstanding effort for his first Ironman, it doesn’t get much better than that. Tash’s performance on the surface looks pretty good to finish 4th in her age group but this wasn’t the performance she wanted or was deserving of. All athletes out there who easily suffer from the cold will know that once you get too cold in the swim it can end your race, unfortunately that’s what happened in this case. The girl just couldn’t get going and considered pulling out many times. But after her husband gave her a good talking too at the end of the bike she managed to jog her way to a 3:35 run. If it had been warmer on the day I don’t doubt she wouldn’t have been so much closer to that top spot. Your time will come Tash Jackson.
Some of the others guys weren’t so lucky and were disappointed with their run performances but all had huge positives to take away. We’ve all been there. Races like these that are so pivotal in an athlete’s development because it clearly highlights what needs the work to move to that next level. That’s why it takes a long time to get really good at this sport. If the right areas are then identified to work on then it helps shine a clear path on what needs to be done. Then it’s a matter of taking that next step.
What does it take to produce a great Ironman run?
This is a question I’m frequently asked. It’s a fascinating question because for all of the best training in the world, this doesn’t guarantee that you will find that performance on race day. Particularly for those athletes that are quite new to the distance. The main reason for this is the run is the ultimate test of your mental capabilities, which in many cases aren’t anywhere near fully developed yet. And let’s be clear 75% of this game is about mental toughness. It’s also the stage of the race where it’s so very easy to slow down and start walking. Once you do, it can be a downward spiral from there. This is why it’s so rare to see an athlete produce good run in their first few Ironman’s.
I was the perfect example of this when I did my first Ironman so can talk from experience. I was aiming for a sub 3.30 run (which I thought would be a safe easy bet) and ended up running 4:19 and that included about 8 painful miles of walking. This pattern persisted in my next 2 Ironman’s where I got everything wrong. When I think about it I was seriously fit, as my swim and bike performances proved, but just didn’t have that hardheaded toughness and mental resilience on the run. There were of course major ego and pacing issues to be dealt with (I’m a man after all!) but when the time came I realised I just wasn’t mentally tough enough. When the shit hit the proverbial fan and I had to go to the trenches I just didn’t have it. What’s important to understand is that it was there; I just hadn’t found it – yet.
It was a conversation with my coach at the time that I will never forget. He said to me:
“You know in that moment where everything hurts, your legs feel like stone, you feel weak and you might pass out and all you want to do is walk or slow down because you think can’t keep going anymore…guess what ?…You can keep going if you are only prepared to dig in more than you ever thought you would need to. You just need to ride that storm because it doesn’t last and you can come out the other side of it. You just need to be stubborn and not give into it”.
And you know what he was so right.
This moment arrived in my next Ironman when this pivotal moment came up yet again. This time I was ready and just refused to give in and let it beat me. The scars ran too deeply from last time to let that happen again. This was my moment, I felt weak and my legs felt like they didn’t want to move, I just gritted my teeth, pushed on through and focussed on running to the next tree in the distance. Then I kept repeating this pattern. Before I knew I was through it and started to feel ok again. Not at any stage was this easy, far from it. I had to fight for it tooth and nail. I had another moment later on and just repeated the same process. It was a revelation to me because I proved to myself that my boundaries were far beyond where I considered them to be. I just wasn’t prepared to let it beat me.
Our sport is littered with some of the greatest Ironman athletes in the world who went through exactly this same process when they started out. A great example of this was an athlete I previously coached – pro triathlete and Ironman Wales winner and course record holder – Simone Mitchell. What I can tell you about Simone is that in her first 70.3 back in 2012 she ran 1:51 with an overall time of 6:23. In her first Ironman at IMUK she ran 3:49 with an overall time of 11:54. She also had a history of running marathons before she came into the sport so the distance wasn’t new to her. It wasn’t until 5 years later that she ran 1:30 at the 70.3 World Championships to win her age category. It was then a further 7 years before she was able to run 3:10 at Ironman Wales to win the pro race and set the course record in 2019. It certainly didn’t come easy.
The point of me telling you this is there is no easy fix to running a great Ironman run no matter how good your training has been. It takes time, years of layered training, lots of failure and plenty of tough moments in training and racing where you have to be prepared to dig in and breakthrough to the other side when you think you can’t go on. The more you do this the more pieces of the jigsaw puzzle you lay down to help you build strong Ironman run. It won’t come to you, you have to go out and be prepared to fight for it.
- Tash Jackson
- Splits: 1:17:34 swim / 5:28:49 bike/ 3:35:51 run
- Total Time: 10:32:30
- 4th / 30-34 category
- Rod Hamilton
- Splits: 1:12:33 swim / 5:18:35 bike/ 4:19:14 run
- Total Time: 11:00:00
- Joep Van Meerwijk
- Splits: 1:14:13 swim / 5:40:33 bike/ 4:06:39 run
- Total Time: 11:11:30
- Splits: 1:10:44 swim / 5:26:20 bike/ 4:40:03 run
- Total Time: 11:26:10
- Chris O’Neill
- Splits: 1:19:15 swim / 5:33:47 bike/ 4:50:47 run
- Total Time: 11:55:26
A little ‘bromance’ also happened in Tallinn…
Ironman London (Solo distance finishers)
I can’t begin to tell you how much respect for these two athletes David & Jan who each completed a solo Ironman distance this month. Guys you were nothing short of phenomenal and so brave to even take on the challenge alone. This speaks volumes about you. Both athletes had training brilliantly all year and kept on going through some pretty tough times. Jan having both Ironman Hamburg & Barcelona cancelled and David having Ironman Italy cancelled just weeks before he was due to race. They were both also training for their first Ironman attempt.
We didn’t want to waste a year of training so when asked both were up for it. It was also important from my perspective that they have an experience of what it was like to do the distances before they attempt the real thing next year. They will take huge confidence from these finishes. Bravo gentleman, we salute you.
I also wanted to give a huge shout out to all the Team Nagi swimming legends that turned out to support David. You helped to make it a day he will never ever forget. A very big thank you!
Solo Ironman Acton (London)
- David Rueda
- Splits: 1:08:11 swim / 6:24:37 bike/ 4:47 run
- Total Time: 12:19:44
Solo Ironman Essex
- Jan Issling
- Splits: 1:08:08 swim / 6:01:48 bike/ 4:35:29 run
- Total Time: 11:45:25
The Outlaw X (Middle distance)
- Andrew Reardon
- Splits: 0:15:01 (750m shortened swim) / 2:47:13 bike/ 1:33:56 run
- Total Time: 4:48:07
2 races down for Andrew and hopefully a 3rd to add if the triathlon Gods keep shining on him! Brutal character building conditions at The Outlaw which saw the swim shortened due to the water temp. Again he froze on the bike and couldn’t get going but managed to dig deep and push on through to a great run all things considered. Hopefully Portugal might be a tad warmer!
The Cotswold Classic
- Harvey Smyth
- Splits: 40:00 swim / 2:52 bike/ 1:48 run
- Total Time: 5:20:00
So great to see H close out his year with such a good race this year. This race was never planned as we just used training to help him through a very stressful lockdown period. We trained with the thought that there might be an Olympic distance race for him to do at some point if he could get lucky. In that time he made huge gains and then only a few weeks before the race did we switch the attention to do a longer distance race when the opportunity came up. A fine performance and a great way to close out 2020, it was a pleasure as always H.
If you love being in the mountains and thrive on that special energy they provide then you’ll love this book. Killian has been one of the greatest ultra runners, mountain climbers and ski mountaineers for the past 20 years. He’s been there and won it all. He also holds the world record for the fastest ascent of Mount Everest in 26 hours solo and without oxygen or rope. An extraordinary athlete that does his sport just for the pure love of it. It’s not the attention he craves it’s the experience of pushing himself to his very limits. This was a book I didn’t want to stop listening to.
This beautiful inspiring film charts the life and history of the Paralympic movement. From it’s incredible founder Dr Ludwig Guttmann who fled Nazi Germany to England during the war. To the inspirational athletes that have been through so much to compete at this level. It really does put into perspective tough and resilient we can be as human beings despite enormous odds.
Instagram posts of the month
Team Nagi out & about
So good to see this tough girl/mum extraordinaire back out training again after a year like no other. You’ve been through an Ironman x 1000 and come out the other side of it and that says everything about you. Most importantly it’s so good to see those little angels thriving day by day x
Selfie/Posing Queen keeping an eye on the boys in Tallinn.
I just wanted to say a huge thank you to this absolute legend of a girl for the support she gave these guys, the amazing photos she took while there and the fact she came out to support Jan for his Ironman in deepest darkest Essex. She also had a medal made for him. Connie Tram you are what Team Nagi are all about and we are very lucky to have you in it!
Never was a man more deserving of his slice of pizza! (Coach ate the rest)
Surely no girl can ever leave home without their Banana Box?
Always a trend setter…The Pocket Rocket colour co ordinates with her really weird coloured pool (Nice T-shirt)
Post broken wrist – the girl is back! (Now please try & stay upright this time MB)
That post Ironman blues feeling
David’s T2 – Aka my living room
Jan’s T2 – Aka boot of my car
Loving your work Zoe Walton, never did a piece of cardboard mean so much to our Davide
If the size of the cake & milkshakes are anything to go by this is definitely post race (I hope it’s post race!)
2021 will be mine!