Team Nagi Coaching Newsletter – June 2022
What a glorious month of racing June has been for the Team, probably the biggest I’ve seen in the ‘post covid-era’. The results have come in thick and fast, and I can’t remember a month where so many racing boxes were ticked. We’ve had athletes completing their first triathlons at a range of distances, others who raced and qualified for Team GB, another athlete who booked her Kona ticket to the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii and pretty much everything else in between!
From a Coaching perspective I get a huge amount of reward from seeing everyone out there just doing their thing to the best of their ability, no matter what the level. It really has been a joy to behold because I know the hard work, sacrifice and commitment that goes into each one of these performances. What is clear is every has a story and sometimes this gets lost when you are just looking at an overall time and splits. That’s why when I write these blogs, I like to tell a little of this story because it just shows that we are all dealing with hurdles that we have to overcome in everyday life.
The performance I want to shed a special light on this month was by one of our athletes who completed his first Ironman in Hamburg this month. The reason I want to do this is because Jan was told that he would never be able to do complete an Ironman due to a hip issue. This all started last year when he was in the final few months of training for his first Ironman, disaster struck when he was hit with severe hip pain. To cut a long story short he was told that he had an arthritic hip and there was nothing they could do, he would also need a hip replacement. The only course of action suggested was hip injections to help ease the pain and to avoid running.
As you can imagine when you have such a big dream like this to complete an Ironman the impact can initially devastating. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned as a Coach over the years when it comes to issues like this is that it is always worth getting a second opinion. Luckily, I knew a top knee and hip surgeon who has helped me enormously with issues I’ve had with my own body. His name is Paul Harnett (Team GB triathlete) and working with people like Paul has helped me to understand the body so much better and what is capabilities might be. That is if you can think outside of the box and be creative.
What Paul and other surgeons have helped me to understand is that as we age so does our body, that means wear and tear will develop. In some it comes on quicker and earlier than others, genes play a big part in this, but so does how you take care of your body. It can be very hard for many athletes to deal with this, but you have a choice, you can either be a glass half full or a glass half empty kind of a person. But at some stage we all must accept that our bodies aren’t capable to doing what we used to do when we were younger.
Luckily Jan took the glass half full kind of approach after he took my advice and went to see Paul about his hip issue. The advice from Paul was clear, it could be anything from 5-20 years before he would need a hip replacement. It was also slightly old school thinking that avoiding running will stop the progression of degenerative disease/arthritis in the hip or any other joints. He also said there is no clinical evidence for this, the degenerative disease may or may not progress.
What was very clear was that Jan still had a burning desire to complete his home Ironman in Hamburg, Germany, even if it was his only one. I spoke to Paul, it was clear that a training plan needed to be put in place that was based on adapting load, increased strength work and coming up with a system of assessing hip discomfort. Through trial and error and my experience of adapting running load over the years we eventually found that Jan could still manage 2 runs per week. These runs were made up of 10min slow running followed by 30 secs of walking repeated. We also used a pain scale of 1-10 that he had to record in his training diary, so I knew how the hip was feeling each day. What was amazing with this approach is his pain scale barely ever got above 3-4/ 10 even during the final few months, when he was doing a 1 hour run and a 2 hour longer run. He also ran consistently for at least 5 months all the way through to race day with no need for any pain killing injections.
I’m often asked how long should the longest run be for someone training for an Ironman? This is the equivalent of asking me how long a piece of string is or how many shades of grey there are? The shortest run I’ve ever prescribed is 2 hours, the longest 4.5 hours. There are so many factors that dictate the longest run length and the athlete’s injury history, age, ability, durability is just some of them. What is crucial in all of this is getting the athlete to the start line as healthy as possible whilst giving them the ‘minimal effective dose’ of training to achieve their goals.
In Jan’s case it was 2 hours as we knew beyond this his discomfort level started to rise significantly. But what was clear as he achieved his goal of completing his first Ironman was that this dose was more than enough. To still be able to run 4:32:29 with a 10min run/ 30 secs walk strategy was simply amazing. A performance both Coach and athlete was extremely proud of.
Many athletes are often surprised when I use run/walk interval in training. They are even more surprised when I tell them I use it a lot even with athletes who don’t have issues like Jan. The reason being is running presents the biggest danger for injuries due to the amount of load taken through the body. This is often made worse by athletes thinking that just running continuously all the time is the key to running performance, again old school thinking. These clever well timed walk intervals really help to reduce the overall load of the session which eases the pressure on your joints, muscles, ligaments and tendons. It can also help athletes run further & for longer with better technique because of the reduced load.
It might surprise you to know that I am currently training one female athlete to do an Ironman on a 2min run/20 secs walking strategy for the entire marathon. This idea was taken from a male athlete who became 65-69 Age Group World Champion at Ironman Hawaii with this approach. Also, Vicki Hill who just won her age group at Ironman Cairns had one harder run each week that included run/ walk intervals all the way to running a blistering 3:33:39 marathon in the 45-49 female category. This was the also the 3rd fastest female run overall.
If there’s one thing I can guarantee as a Coach is if I am coaching 20 athletes, they will be following 20 different running plans based on a whole host of factors. Sure, some of the sessions might be similar but what is key is you design the amount of run training you think they can absorb by giving them the minimal effective dose to reduce injury risk. Is this a full proof method? Absolutely not, but it can go a long way to helping runners develop better consistency through reducing injury risk from too much overload.
What most athletes fail to understand is that it is consistency NOT intensity is key to running performance. Time away from running due to injury is fitness lost, if you don’t use it, you simply lose it. If you don’t get injured and you keep running for several months then I guarantee you will be the fittest, fastest, and strongest you have ever been even with very little or no speed work. The problem is I so rarely so many athletes achieving this because they are caught in a frustrating cycle of doing a couple of weeks/months of training then they get injured.
So, my advice is don’t get stuck in your ways with your run training plan and be prepared to look at it with new eyes if you are underperforming or experiencing injury issues. Sometimes less is more to get that much needed consistency. And remember as we age, so does your body so your training plan must evolve to take account of this.
- Vicki Hill
- Splits: 1:12:53 swim / 5:37:08 bike / 3:33:39 run
- Total Time: 10:34:38
- 1st in 45-49 category
- Next up: Ironman World Champs – Hawaii
Class never fades…even after 3 years of no racing. It’s been a very tough few years for our Pocket Rocket in Singapore. 3 years of being unable to do what you love doing most took its toll at times. But as ever Vicki showed he class at every stage and was prepared to adapt to what she was experiencing. Rarely have I ever seen an athlete that can be so measured when the world around us was seemingly falling apart. What was even more incredible about this performance was that she pretty much picked up on the same level of performance she produced 3 years ago without any racing in the period in between. A performance so deserving of that Kona slot, now the fun and games begin!
I should also add a note to say that Vicki was knocked out covid 3 weeks before this race. She had to take nearly a week off training, didn’t panic (well not much anyway lol) and still delivered on race day.
- Jan Issling
- Splits: 1:16:29 swim / 5:58:59 bike / 4:32:29 run
- Total Time: 12:15:35
- 45-49 category
- Next up: Short-course triathlon
Not only did Jan complete his first Ironman he also won the best outfit award and was cheered all the way to the finish line wearing it!
- Splits: 1:08:21 swim / 5:26:13 bike / 5:09:48 run
- Total Time: 11:56:32
- 45-49 category
- Next up: Ironman Copenhagen
An excellent swim, solid bike, then it was all going so well until the half point of the run…then disaster struck as JJ was hit with severe stomach issues. This can happen to any athlete on race day but rest assured JJ will be bouncing back at Ironman Copenhagen in a few weeks time.
Cotswold 113 (Middle distance)
- Andrew Reardon
- Splits: 32:46 swim / 2:30:06 bike / 1:36:19 run
- Total Time: 4:45:07
- 5th in 45-49 category
- Next up: Barcelona 70.3
A first hit out of the year for Andrew and a solid top 5 performance. Lots learned from this one that will be taken forwards to the races ahead. Keep juggling in this busy life period Andrew!
- Steve Phillips
- Splits: 35:48 swim / 2:48:21 bike / 1:30:41 run
- Total Time: 5:01:34
- 9th/200 in 45-49 category
- Next up:
A fantastic top 10 finish for Steve just weeks out from taking part at the Ironman World Championships in Utah. Very nice work indeed in such a big age group and what was a very high-quality field.
- Arnaud Marchal
- Splits: 35:00swim / 3:07:43 bike / 2:00:30 run
- Total Time: 5:57:53
- 45-49 category
- Next up: The Outlaw Ironman
What a performance by the Frenchman at Staffs to go nearly an hour faster than he did over the same distance last year. The difference? Training smartly & pacing it to perfection. Bravo Arnaud!
- Angus Pollard
- Splits: 30:45 swim / 2:22:00 bike / 1:26:39 run
- Total Time: 4:26:22
- 25-29 category
- Next up: The London Triathlon
A super solid performance yet again from Angus in his first hit out since working together. It will be all systems go for a top 10 placing next time up.
Hudson Valley Triathlon (New York 70.3)
- Tommy DeLuca
- Splits: 32:32 swim / 3:26:14 bike / 1:57:51 run
- Total Time: 6:01:18
- 5th in 40-44 category
- Next up: SOS Triathlon
Over 10 years (and 2 children) since I first Coached Tommy to his first Ironman it was terrific to see him back in action at the Hudson Valley half Ironman. Brutal conditions on the day saw temperatures reach 30 degrees with 80% humidity. Great to see you back Tommy, a performance to be proud of and hopefully a taster of things to come.
Leeds Olympic qualifier
- Jeremy Cole
- Splits: 30:29 swim / 1:12:33 bike / 51:10 run
- Total Time: 2:44:29
- 60-64 category
Another solid performance by JC at the national triathlon Championships in Leeds. Always a high-class field and so great to see you still holding your own at the highest of levels.
Bridge triathlon (Olympic)
- Neil Rowe
- Splits: 29:20 swim / 1:23:47 bike / 1:03:45 run
- Total Time: 3:04:44
- 45-49 category
- Next up: Hever Castle Middle Distance
Huge congrats to Neil Rowe who just completed his first triathlon! Such a huge milestone as he works his way through to his first Ironman later this year. Cracking performance Neil and just the confidence boost you needed to take it to the next level.
Eastbourne sprint qualifier
- Tony Jarvis
- Splits: 13:19 swim / 35:17 bike / 20:21 run
- Total Time: 1:11:49
- 10th in 45-49 category
- Next up: Sprint World Champs – Montreal
Sprint World Champs – Montreal
- Tony Jarvis
- Splits: 12:23 swim / 31:04 bike / 20:55 run
- Total Time: 1:09:34
- 45-49 category
- Next up:
If there was a story to write about how to have as much fun as possible at your first Triathlon World Championship, then TJ just wrote it! The message was to go in with wide eyes, take it all in and have as much fun as possible. So to finish 27th/ 61 competitors and come home as the 5th Brit was simply amazing! All done whilst nursing a a back injury, hence the grimace in the pics!
50km Ultra run (Race to Kings)
- Kendra Marsh
- Total Time: 5:01:00
- 2nd in 45-49 category / 5th overall
After a tough few months, it was great to see Kendra bounce back in style with this amazing performance. It was also her first attempt at this distance which makes it even more impressive.
Book of the month
I’ve been looking forward to this book coming out for quite some time. The reason being is it remind of a time when I well and truly fell in love with cycling. Little did we know at the time how scandalous this era would become.
“This is a gripping account of how unbearable expectation, mental and physical fragility, the effects of a complicated childhood, a morally corrupt sport and one individual—Lance Armstrong—can conspire to reroute destiny. Daniel Friebe takes us from the legacy of East Germany’s drugs programme to the pinnacle of pro cycling and asks: what price can you give sporting immortality?”
Instagram post of the month
Athlete feedback of the month
“Well didn’t quite make it to box hill but let’s just call this a character-building ride a ride to toughen the girl from the tropics up! OMG the weather – about 30 mins into the ride it poured with rain. I got soaked so stopped at a cafe, but the rain kept going so decided to get back in the bike. But got really cold so decided to give up and head home. Then of course the sun came out… so I got home, changed my wet kit, added another layer and headed out again. Just got home as the heavens opened again…flipping English summer”
Team out & About
That feeling when Coach gives you the weekend off from Ironman training to go to Paris with the boyfie
From one generation to the next…best of luck at Finland 70.3 Oliver Jansen!
Whoever knew you could fuel a 1350km, 10-day ride on the finest Spanish red wines! Huge congrats JT on completing this mammoth cycling tour of the Spanish wine regions along with 17000m of climbing!