I’ve just got back from a 10-day break with the family in Wales and boy did I need it. As a coach I rarely feel the need or want to take time out because I love what I do so much but after 2 years of the covid triathlon roller coaster I’m not ashamed to say the battery was on very low charge. Stepping away for a short while was absolutely the right call for me and I’m so glad I did it because even after just a week I felt like a new man.
As most of you know my family home in Wales is the place I do that, being surrounded by family, friends, mountains, sheep and greenery. This is the place that feeds my soul and I know I’m a better person and Coach when I take time to take that time out to go there. It provides the rocket fuel to my coaching fire and I know it has to be factored in regularly for me to stay at the top of my game.
This time is so important for all of us to take and it coincided with many of my athletes having reached the end of their racing season. Some have some way to go and others are currently taking that break period now. What is important is that every athlete will need to take that break at some point.
How long should that break be from structured training?
It’s as much as you feel you need to take but with most athletes I coach that will be a 4-week minimum period and I’ve even recommending longer for others. It’s highly individual and will usually correlate with the level of stress that athlete has been under this year both mentally and physically.
What goes up must come down so take all the time you feel you need before you are ready to step back onto that hamster’s wheel once again. Unless you are chomping at the bit to get back into training then you simply aren’t ready and just need more ‘me-time’. This doesn’t mean you stop training, far from it. It’s just about having breathing space to do what you feel you want to do until the moment is right. When that battery is fully charged you will know it.
During this time, it’s also important to think about what that big goal ahead is that is going to get you fired up for 2022 and the years ahead. I had a wonderful conversation with an athlete recently where we planned out the next few years of her development. She was actually coming back into structured training after a break and nearly 2.5 years of no racing at all. We stoked the fire by setting some really big goals and this was exactly what she needed as the tide is finally starting to turn for her. She also needed it because the road ahead could still be very rocky, so the guiding light needed to be a big one. It was essentially her ‘Olympic games’ of triathlon and it was a path that she was prepared to take, warts and all.
If the Olympics has taught us anything this year is that those that achieve personal success usually have had the most turbulent journeys. Uncertainty, injuries, illness, failure, disappointments are all part of that journey. Without it success is never achieved. So be sure to enjoy and embrace that end of season break because it is the thing that will help make you so much stronger and resilient for the trials and tribulations of your journey ahead.
“Accept where you are to get where you want to go. Be present to own your attention and energy. Be patient to get there faster. Embrace vulnerability to build genuine confidence. Build a deep community and belonging. Move your body to steady and strengthen your mind”. Bradley Stulberg.
Team race news
Cowman (Middle distance)
- Joep Van Meerwijk
- Splits: 27:08 swim / 2:42:31 bike/ 1:43:09 run
- Total Time: 4:56:37
- 5th in 40-44 category
- Next up: Daddy time
Huge congrats Joep on achieving both your season goals by smashing your Half Ironman and Olympic distance PB’s this year. We also finally got a shot of you and medal hogger Cleo together at last!
- Splits: 1:10:51 swim / 5:33:06 bike/ 4:24:08 run
- Total Time: 11:15:01
- 4th in category / 12th overall
- Next up: End of season break
When you get knocked down the important thing is to keep getting back up. So to attempt a 2nd Ironman just 3 weeks after your last one takes some b***s! Then to set a new IM PB whilst racing through the night is tremendous. It might not be the perfect race just yet but it’s a big step in the right direction. Bravo JJ.
The London Triathlon (Olympic) / Team GB qualifers for World Champs in Abu Dhabi 2022
- Rod Hamilton
- Splits: 25:54 swim / 1:01:21 bike/ 44:57 run
- Total Time: 2:18:19
- 4th in 55-59 category
- Next up: Fun in the sun
A superb end to a brilliant season. Three races and three excellent performances, you well and truly nailed this year Rod. All topped off with automatic qualification for team GB, much to be proud of.
- Simon Evans
- Splits: 23:44 swim / 1:03:16 bike/ 41:42 run
- Total Time: 2:13:55
- 7th in 45-49 category
- Next up: Ealing half marathon
1 minute away from automatic qualification but looking likely for a roll down slot. Nice work Si.
- Charlotte Drummond
- Splits: 26:31 swim / 1:07:57 bike/ DNS run
- Total Time:
- 25-29 category
- Next up: Shropshire Olympic Distance
A slight run niggle put pay to the run for this race but CD was prepared to show up for the swim + bike and give it her all. Two terrific efforts that showed this girl is well and truly in the mix to step up to racing at international level.
Box Tri (Olympic)
- Jim Butler
- Splits: 29:29 swim / 1:10:16 bike/ 53:29 run
- Total Time:
- 6th in 50-59 category
- Next up: End of season break
Another terrific bounce back performance on a really challenging course. So many good boxes ticked for at this one, get the process right and the performance will follow. Nice work JB, let’s hope your luck changes moving forwards.
TV documentary of the month
This is such a beautiful swimming story that shouldn’t be missed. It’s only 30mins in duration but is both very emotional and inspiring at the same time. You’ll never complain about cold water again after you see what this amazing lady achieved.
I’m not sure what I was more astonished by, the fact that Sean attempted to become the first man to swim the length of the UK (whilst casually deciding to swim to Ireland at the same time because he could see it) or the fact that he didn’t do any training for it! Only putting his wetsuit on for the first time when he got in the water to start the swim at Land’s End.
For those that know of Sean Conway and his endurance adventures, this swim is only one of some pretty incredible endurance events he has taken on for both swimming, biking and running. He’s a character to say the least who flies by the seat of his pants. This is a man that constantly proves anything is possible. A fascinating read!
TN swimmer Q & A
Name: Carmen Prem
Star sign: Pisces
Years swimming: Lots, I grew up by a beautiful river in Southern Germany. Team Nagi swim squad since 2012.
In another life you would have been…
a doctor, but I was rubbish at chemistry and biology
Who is your athletic alter ego? Shelley Taylor-Smith
Favourite training session: Anything without paddles or T-shirt. Or a really cold dip with the Team Nagi ladies in a freezing lake (I admit that’s not training!).
Least favourite training session: Anything with paddles and/or T-shirt. I used to moan about sprinting but like it more and more these days (thanks coach!)
Favourite swimmer: Ian Thorpe, Frederica Pellegrini, Bronte and Cate Campbell
Far from the Tree by Andrew Salomon (opened up my eyes about society and the adversities some families have to put up with)
+ Homo Faber by Max Frisch
++ Asterix in Switzerland
Last book you read: Why We Swim by Bonnie Tsui (it is so good!) and a book about Syrians migrating to Germany written from a Syrian’s perspective. The cultural differences lead to some hilarious stories. Of course there is also a chapter about German sauna culture.
Favourite swim venue/location: Long distance open water swim in a Bavarian lake or somewhere in Australia (ideally without jellyfish or sharks).
Favourite event experience:
The Bosphorus swim in Istanbul (it’s epic!)
If you could choose 3 famous people to come to dinner with you who would they be & why?
Aretha Franklin – so much to talk about, and I wonder if she would sing for us if we asked her nicely and if I made her favourite meal?
Angela Merkel – I never thought I’d say this but after the migrant crisis I now think she rocks, in a politician sort of way.
Mark Foster – for a bit of eye candy and because we could ask him all those burning questions about life as an Olympic swimmer.
Training hours per week: 3.5h in the pool and lake (I know, shameful), but I do lots of other stuff, including Pilates and Yoga, to keep my back healthy.
Goals for 2021/2022? I really loved my recent 10k ocean swim in Cornwall (although I could have done without the jellyfish). I can imagine going further and maybe there is the length of Lake Windermere or of a similarly sized Bavarian lake on the cards at some stage. And I want to do the Hellespont, another iconic swim.
Instagram posts of the month
Team Nagi out & about
Huge congrats Carmen Prem on completing a very tough 10km sea swim (with battle scar jellyfish stings to prove it!)
Looking forward to getting back to this (even Peter looks up for it!)