Team Nagi Newsletter May 2020
Is it just me or is time passing by scarily fast ?
I can’t believe I’m writing the blog for May already, who’d have thought this lock down business would prove to be such a time killer! Dare I say it but after moving through some pretty awful weeks there is now light at the end of the tunnel as the world starts to slowly re-open again. Let’s hope this momentum continues as this wall of fear slowly starts to fade away.
These tentative first steps have already started to take place. Only yesterday did we get the announcement that live domestic competitive sport will be allowed from the 1st June (albeit behind closed doors). I never thought I would be so happy to hear that news despite its format. None of it will be perfect when the re-start happens and it will be far from what we are used to, but the most important thing to remember is that it’s a start and that excites me hugely.
Around the world we’ve already seen the first series of UFC fights taking place, German football professional football has restarted and swimming pools have re-opened in Australia. And if you’re Swedish then it’s just been pretty much business as usual! (Yes we envy you Elvira Stromback ha-ha).These are just a few examples of the shift that is happening as everyone watches and learns from each other.
These are such important first steps and should be welcomed as the rebuilding process starts to gain momentum. We still don’t know what’s ahead for racing this year but there are some hugely positive signs, especially for European racing as new dates have already been announced and there is still many more to come for the September – December period. Expect quite a few announcements in the coming weeks and be prepared to act if you want that opportunity.
What’s been hugely inspiring for me to see as a Coach is the way our athletes have battened down the hatches, accepted the uncertainty and just got on with the task becoming better more rounded triathletes. We’ve identified the key areas for each one of them to focus on and then implemented a plan to focus on short-term goals. These goals have proved to be a great carrot for them to chase to keep them motivated, inspired and fully engaged with the process.
To say they have thrived would be an understatement with many of them producing some of their best ever training, this has been backed up with the biggest improvement in fitness testing results I’ve ever seen from them in such a short period of time. Whether this be a FTP focus on the bike or a MAF focus on the run it’s clear if there is one thing to come out of this virus situation it’s their currently work/life home set up is far more conducive to the absorption of endurance training for all of the reasons I’ve set out in previous newsletters:
- No commute
- Less work travel
- Increased sleeping hours
- Reduced work stress
- Improved nutrition
- More quality time spent with loved ones
- More time to do yoga, mobility work & stretching, strength & conditioning & Pilates
The value of all of this is a great lesson for those who are constantly searching for the latest ‘Triathlon hack’. You’ve heard it a million times before; it really isn’t about training harder, it’s about training smarter.
But let’s be clear I’m not trying to paint a perfect picture here that everything has been fine & dandy over the past couple of months. Many athletes have had huge dips in motivation & enthusiasm in relation to training and racing. Why wouldn’t they with so much uncertainty around them? It can be a roller coaster for many but what’s been very clear is once over the initial hump of disappointment they’ve learned to be far more flexible in terms of their mindset in relation to what’s ahead. It’s also been proven that it’s’ been far better to have ‘a‘ goal to work towards, rather than no goals at all. You just need to be smart in choosing what these goals should be.
One thing is for sure; the key factor is what determines how good a triathlete you eventually become will be how consistent you are with your training virus or no virus. Whether this is coached or self-directed training, keep yourself in the game for as long as possible. Don’t take too long away from it because if you do you go back to square one when you get started again. During this time others will just be gaining on you the entire time. It takes years to get really good and the more time you take out now the longer it will take for you to achieve what you want to achieve within the sport. There’s an opportunity to be grasped here, you just need to be smart enough to see it.
Open water swimming is BACK Ladies & Gents…WHOOP WHOOP!
Without doubt the highlight of my month has been seeing my swimmers return to the open water. It has been a joy to behold and I’ve been inundated with photos, email and calls about these experiences so a very big thank you. It really has lifted the spirit for all and just what was needed.
It’s really important for me to set out some guidelines for you in terms setting out a sensible return to the water after such a long period away from it. You really do have to proceed with caution because if you start to do too much too soon you could end up with all sorts of problems, especially in relation to your shoulder health. After up to 8 weeks of no swimming, more sitting than ever before (usually leading to postural changes), a loss of sports specific strength, mobility, feel and fitness the dangers are ever present. Then compound this with the restriction & tension you feel in the shoulders when you put a wetsuit back on then this can be a recipe for a disaster. Especially when most of you complain about shoulder issues when you first put a wetsuit on even when you’ve been swimming all year round!
For me the emphasis should primarily be focussed on just having fun and enjoying being back in the water. This is a time to lose the watch/data obsession and just enjoy feeling your swimming senses once again; it will be good for the soul. Even with the triathletes I coach I have for-warned them that I am not interested in pace data or swim speed for at least 6 weeks as they start to rebuild their aerobic fitness. I also roll my eyes when I’m told, “How slow I am at moment” – funny that after after 8 weeks of no swim training. If you don’t use it you lose it it’s a simple as that, speed just isn’t important right now. Aerobic fitness is and this should be the foundation you develop in the first phase of training.
The two things to avoid in the first 6 weeks at least is swimming too long continuously and adding speed work in. Frequency is far more important for building a solid fitness foundation. That means regularly getting in the water 2-3 times per week. The sets should be short and the pace should be easy and overall volume should be relatively low. A simple outline progression is shown below:
Weeks 1 – 2
- Overall session volume: 1000-1500m total
- Set ideas: (10-15 x 100m on 20ri / 5-8 x 200m on 20 ri)
- Pace: Easy
Weeks 3 – 4
- Overall session volume: 2000-2500m total
- Set ideas: (8 x 250m on 20 ri/ 8 x 300m on 25 ri / 5-6 x 400m on 30 ri)
- Pace: Easy
Weeks 5 – 6
- Overall session volume: 2500-3000m total
- Set ideas: (25-30 x 100m on 15 ri / 10-12 x 250m on 20 ri / 8-10 x 300m on 30 ri / 6-8 x 400m on 30 ri/ 3-4 x 750m on 60ri)
- Pace: Easy
These are just rough guidelines that you can tweak to suit the venue you swim at using your available loop sizes. You don’t need to be too precise. Just break the sets down into manageable sensible ways using the buoys, landmarks and other other objects that allow you to get a rough idea of distance.
Also don’t expect your swimming to feel great for at least the first few sessions, you have to regain that ‘feel’ and that comes through time spent in the water. Your technique could also feel off but in my experience this is just perception because you’ve lost so much swim fitness and feel. Just keep getting back in the water and it will feel that little bit better each time.
What will help many of you develop your feel for the water again will be to add a little bit of sculling work to your warm up. You might swim a 200m loop to get warmed up then introduce 15metres of front or middle scull before you break into the next 200m loop. You could also do a sensory deprivation set in the same format, this just means swimming with clenched ‘fists’ for 15m or so before opening your hand again. The result is usually an increased sense of feel or resistance that makes you feel like you are holding the water better against the palm of your hand. Some people might respond better to the underwater doggie paddle drill as well, just have fun playing around seeing what works best for you.
This is also the perfect time to be working on developing good sighting technique. All too often this is neglected by triathletes every year. This is the number one reason they end up swimming so slowly in open water events due to the extra distance being covered for not swimming in a straight line. A simple focus could be breaking your swim up just swimming from buoy to buoy whilst fixing your vision on this object as you swim towards it. You could even time a loop without too much sighting and then do it with sighting every 6-8 strokes to see how you can cut time just by swimming straighter and sighting more frequently. The more you do it the more refined it will become even if it feels alien to you initially.
My best advice in this initial period, ignore the data and just enjoy the sensations you feel as you move through the water. Leave the stresses of the world behind and let your senses come alive again, they are there you just need to rediscover them again. Patience is key.
I think most will have seen this incredible Netflix documentary by now on Michael Jordan’s time at the Chicago Bulls. If you haven’t you are in for a real treat! One of the best sporting documentaries I’ve had the pleasure to watch. What more can you say about the man other than he was other worldly in every respect. All you can do is sit back and admire one of the greatest stars the world of sport has ever seen.
Book of the month
This is the story of how the legendary basketball Coach Phil Jackson guided the Chicago Bulls & The LA lakers to 11 NBA Championship titles. An extraordinary achievement in the world of professional sport. If you enjoyed ‘The Last Dance’ this book is a must read to get the coaching perspective for how this success was achieved. Phil is a highly spiritual guy who used his Buddhist beliefs and outside of the box thinking to create some of the greatest teams in the world. A slow burner to start but just gets better and better as it goes on. A truly fascinating insight.
Instagram post of the month
Well said Gwen, she gets it
Athlete Interview – Kate Smyth
Name: Kate Smyth
Star sign: Scorpio
Years in triathlon: 6
I run a fitness and nutrition business called Tribe (www.tribeldn.com for anyone that fancies a cardio HITT!)
In another life you would have been a….
Pro surfer (ocean and sunshine all year round)
Who is your athletic alter ego?
Michael Jordan (only because I have just watched Last Dance and wishing I had what he has)
Favourite training session:
Anything that involves running
Least favourite training session:
I would have said in the past, anything on the bike…but I am learning to love the bike.
Favourite training track (music!):
Music not my forte.
Forever trying to find the perfect playlist to get me through the sessions.
Just finished reading Shoe Dog. A memoir by the creator of Nike. Awesome read!!
Favourite training venue/location:
Noosa (Australia)– ocean swims and national park runs
Favourite race experience:
My first Ironman race in Austria. Beyond excited to have finished and enjoyed every second of it.
JUST DO IT!!
If you could choose 3 famous people to come to dinner with you who would they be & why?
Don’t need famous people. Just my three closest girlfriends with lots of delicious red wine and endless laughter.
Training hours per week: 10-12
What are your training & race goals for 2020?
Everything out the window at the moment. No set plans. Enjoying training with more time and less stress. Just building on base aerobic fitness and strength.
3 top tips for staying sane at home during the virus lockdown ?
- Pray for the sun to keep shining
- Get out early for morning run. Best start to the day
- Eat and drink your way through it all
Team Nagi out & about
Team mates, best buds & chat Queens
FTP test dusted!
Fancy meeting you here! Fun & games down at London Royal Docks
We’re clapping! DM demonstrating the single left bicep pose with double lat spread
This swimming thing is a thumbs up from me, just need to keep my head, feet & hands warm now!
American tough guys go skins
Time to break that water once again!
The London Boys are back
Loving your work Flash Jackson…recovery ice bath in the background noted
London Royal docks in all its glory
Team mates reunited at last (at a distance)
Good to see the Hutchinson’s back in the game
Goggle eyed Swede…anyone else have Swedish swimming pool envy right now?!
He’s a handsome chap isn’t he, even after a dip
Anyone else get Zombie hands & feet post open water swimming?
Back in the game. Getting it done early while the kids are still asleep, loving your work MJ
Looks like a scene from a Tarantino swimming movie…go ladies!
Keeping my athletes strong through lockdown, loving your work as always Sam Pepys Performance
This guy rocks – check him out!