Team Nagi Coaching Newsletter – April 2020

Hi Guys,

Hope you are all keeping safe and well.

This past month has definitely been a period where we have all had to accept the unknown and just keep taking one day at a time. What has impressed me most is the way many of you have adapted to your new normal and settled nicely into newly structured training routines. With many of finding some huge positives in this new set up. Thankfully now we are getting to the stage where lockdown restrictions are starting to be lowered around the world and we are starting to see much more positive good news in the media. I for one am itching to be back poolside with my athletes!

If there’s one thing you can guarantee in the world of fitness is the advice currently being given out there is nearly as divisive as the advice we are being given by the ‘experts’ of the world in relation to the coronavirus. In some cases it’s like black and white and has only lead to a huge amount of frustration and confusion.

What frustrates me most as a coach has been the blanket type advice currently being given out about what type of training is best to do. I’ve seen some coaches (and athletes) saying that people shouldn’t be doing any high intensity training because it compromises the immune system, then on the flip side I’ve heard others saying that doing too much aerobic work is a waste of time. I think this is narrow-minded misinformed thinking at best. The reason being is with each and every athlete’s circumstances will be different. So rather than saying one type of training suits all we should be talking about how to find the right ‘appropriate load’ of training for each individual during this time that will keep them fit, healthy and motivated.

One thing is for sure all of my athletes have continued to do high intensity training alongside plenty of aerobic training during this period. And guess what ? No one has got sick and in fact many have flourished through this period producing some of their best most consistent training all year. The reason this has happened is because their training has been adapted and adjusted to give them the right level of training ‘load’ that is absorbable during this period. By load I’m referring to training intensity, volume and frequency. It’s the manipulation of these 3 key elements that is crucial to any athletes training plan, never more so than now.

The reason these elements have to be manipulated is because everyone currently has a new normal. Many people are now working from home and in some cases people will have more or less time to train. We also have very little idea of what races will be going ahead this year and probably wont know for sure for another 2-3 months until the current situation evolves further. So many athletes are currently training for the unknown, not the easiest place to be for sure as it’s always good to have that guiding light but the one certainty is there will be racing again. All we can do is take one day and one week at a time. Training should be focussed on short blocks of work where the focus is placed on developing the key elements that will make them better triathletes. It’s also about keeping them in a great place to be ready when the races are back without stretching them too far too soon.

“It’s a pity that another race was cancelled today, now also Ironman Switzerland  I continue to focus completely on my training again, to be ready any time, this year or in 2021!” Daniela Ryf

One thing that is absolutely crucial to allow for this is how rest and recovery is implemented into each athletes training routine. We currently have the great commodity of ‘time’ whereby we can afford to introduce more frequent periods of rest and recovery. By rest that doesn’t actually mean taking time off from training it just means lowering the load and this usually means a drop in intensity and volume. Frequency is still absolutely fine if you want to maintain it because actually helps you to absorb the harder work you have done.

There are so many options available here, I have some athletes who are following a normal training build for 3 weeks then taking a 1 week recovery period (dropping training volume by around 40-50%), whereas others are following a 2 week build with a 1 week recovery period. Some might be doing a 4-5 week build before they recover but they might be able to do far less training through this period than others. The key message is recovery periods have never been more important, how you do this has to be specific to you. If you consider that most triathletes during normal times over train and under recover then this is a period where you can afford to slightly under train and over recover.  

It’s no surprise to me at the moment that many of our athletes are actually flourishing during this period. When you consider many of them are now sleeping more, they don’t have to  commute, they are working less hours and there has been a reduction of training load due to the loss of swimming is really any surprise that the quality of both bike and run training has increased?

“It is self-defeating and possibly destructive to keep piling session on top of session with insufficient intervals of rest. Although I worked at my desk, sitting down, between my training sessions at lunchtime and those in the evenings, that was not the equivalent of sleeping or relaxing without the pressure and stress of work. Another thing that they did not have to contend with was commuting. I do not need to explain to commuters how draining and unpleasant are the daily journeys in overcrowded trains or buses and especially in the Tube. On hot days, when the temperature on the Central Line could top 100 degrees, my journey from work to training meant that I arrived already tired. From that starting point, I could not get the full benefit of the work I put in during the next two hours.” (from “Beware of the Dog: Rugby’s Hard Man Reveals All” by former England rugby international Brian Moore)

It’s also been a great period for many athletes where they have been forced out of their comfort zones in relation to training. With many more of you having the time to experiment with things like online yoga, Pilates and stretch classes and suddenly feeling the huge benefits of doing this kind of work. Others have been tempted into the virtually reality world of Zwift and other online platforms to get their weekly fix of training and virtual racing.

What’s been absolutely clear with all of my athletes is they still have a huge amount of motivation to do focussed training. This has been hugely inspiring to see. They do it because they love it and how it makes them feel, this should be the foundation of why you do sport in the first place. It also gives them stability and balance in their daily lives with everything else that is going on in the world. This is a type of comfort blanket that is priceless and it will always be there for you.

So the message from me is to just keep on keeping on for now. You’ve done an amazing job these past few weeks and this work will be banked away and will be ready to use at some stage. We edge ever closer and there is now light at the end of the tunnel. How you want to come out of this is up to you but from what I’ve seen is many of you are putting yourselves in the best place possible so just keep at it.

Film Recommendation

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The Ronda Rousey Story: Through my Father’s eyes

Dana White (CEO) was once asked if he would ever allow women to fight in the UFC, he replied “not as long as I’m in charge”. Ronda Rousey was the trailblazing female fighter who managed to change his view on that. This is the warts and all story of her journey from childhood to becoming one of the greatest female sporting stars in the world. This woman really was a game changer.

Book of the month

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The boy on the shed by Paul Ferris

Paul Ferris became a professional footballer and at the age of 16 was the youngest ever to play in Newcastle United’s first team. Coming from Northern Ireland and being a skilful winger with dancing feet, he was inevitably hailed as ‘the new George Best’. But the story of his time in the game, particularly as a young player, is one of insecurity, injuries, uncertainty, fear and, ultimately, a failure to fulfil his hopes and dreams. The book opens in Lisburn, near Belfast. The Ferris family are Catholics in a predominantly Protestant town at the height of the ‘Troubles’. Ferris re-lives his childhood and teens with brutal candour laced with black humour. The Boy on the Shed is a beautifully written account of a life, but it also lifts the lid on big personalities at Newcastle United.

Instagram post of the month


This photo for me demonstrates everything about a ‘Champion’s mindset’. For those that dont know Tony Ferguson he is currently one of the best mixed martial artists in the world in the UFC. He was due to fight the current champion Khabib Nurmagomedov on April 14th for the title but the fight was cancelled due to the outbreak of the virus. For anyone that knows anything about fighting making weight is one of the hardest things these athletes have to go through. It takes such discipline to cut the weight in the weeks leading into a big fight. It’s also something you would only ever need to do it if you knew your fight was going ahead. He did it anyway though and it sent out a big message to all his opponents that he will be ready anyday anytime so you’d better watch out. It’s this mindset that separates him from the rest in his division  You’ve go to love him for that and as he would say this is #Champshitonly

Athlete Interview – Harvey Smyth

Harvery Smyth Oct 2017

Name:  Harvey Smyth

Age: 51

Star sign: Virgo

Years in triathlon: Four

Occupation: Running restaurants (sadly all closed up at the moment!)

In another life you would have been a..?

Julian Nagi – I would love his have the ability to inflict discipline and pain and have everyone love him for it!

Who is your athletic alter ego?  

Alistair Brownlee –he likes to have a pint of Yorkshire Bitter the night before all of his major events

Favourite training session: 

Running through the National Park in Noosa, Australia

Least favourite training session:  

Long session on the Watt Bike

Favourite training track (music!):  

Start me up – Rolling Stones

Favourite book: 

Into the Silence by Wade Davis –great story of adventure and bravery

Favourite training venue/location:  

Anywhere warm where the food and wine are good

Favourite race experience: 

Lewa Marathon in Kenya – running off road in a beautiful game reserve

Favourite mantra:

Slow down to speed up (right Julian?!)

Coach: Correct H!

If you could choose 3 famous people to come to dinner with you who would they be & why?

Right now, I think I would prefer a night in the pub with some old mates and no social distancing!

Training hours per week:

About 8

What are your training & race goals for 2020?

The plan was a couple of triathlons, a half marathon and the Cannes Otillo –now just to keep fit and strong

3 top tips for staying sane at home during the virus lockdown ?

  1. Don’t watch the news
  2. Enjoy time with your family (we are taking it in turns to cook dinner every night and have had some really good ones – from our 11, 13 and 14 year olds)
  3. Do what Julian says

Coach: Amen to that! (and I didn’t pay him a penny…honest)

Team Nagi out & about

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We’d be honoured to have this fella in Team Nagi anytime. Happy 100th Birthday ‘Sir’ Tom, you absolute legend of a man. Words really do fail me, you lifted a nation when we needed it


Loving your work (and outfit!) Dr Ed Seaton!


Sock game looking STRONG mate


Finally a swimming photo at last! Dont we all wish we were Swedish right now (all pools/gyms still open) but all this tough girl needs is a blue tea cosy on her head to be able to stand 9 degree water!


Jersey Lou getting her daily exercise fix and some quality family time…embrace this time while you can parents!


Rod taking his recovery very seriously during lockdown


The aftermath…I think I may have broken her with this session RIP Connie Tram




Connie’s truth about WFH. (Note to self time to ramp up this turbo sessions as they must be wayyyy too easy!)


Team Nagi does Zwift/ Zoom! The virtual Volcano ride kicks off due to having to us having to cancel our Lanzarote training camp. Great to see these smiling faces!


And what does any Volcano ride need for recovery…a recovery Volcano breakfast. Loving the creativity Rod!


How does Coach stay sane during lockdown?…he hits the oche!