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Team Nagi Coaching Newsletter – October 2020

Hi Guys,

So here we go again!

The new season has started in earnest with most of our athletes coming back to training this month. What’s been such a pleasant surprise is that all of you seem more motivated than ever to attack 2021. When an athlete feels like this I take great comfort in the fact that they’ve managed to let go of 2020 and have taken a more than adequate end of season rest period. This was so important for many because many of you had a season that was stretched further than any of you had planned with one race cancellation after another.

What was so great to see at the end of this shortened season is the way that many UK triathlons were safely run this year. The stand out race would have been the Outlaw triathlon that managed to put on a race for 1500 competitors. This gives me great confidence that we will see a much better race season in the UK in 2021. With all of our athletes we’ve been sure to keep their options more open than ever before by coming up with a race ‘plan A’ and a race ‘plan B’ for 2021. The message from me has been clear…any opportunity to race next year is a good one and needs to be taken even if it’s not your ultimate A race. They key factor is we want them out there racing putting all of that fitness they’ve built to good use, be it abroad or with more local UK based races or a combination of the two.

The other key message with many athletes returning to training this month is that it’s crucial to not push too far too soon with a potential long season ahead. Training load, intensity and progression need to be monitored very closely to build strong robust bodies that are capable of coping with the demands of the year ahead. It’s also important not to stretch the mind to far too soon either because the emotional cost of training too hard all of the time is hugely detrimental to the physical component. This should never be underestimated. It’s just way too easy to jump back in too quickly which can result in problems further down the line, particularly in relation to illness and injury. Remember you will have lost a lot of fitness, strength and mobility so your plan needs to account for this. You need to be kind to your body by putting the right foundations in place. The key message is to be patient.

It’s also very important you don’t get caught up in numbers and comparisons of where your fitness was at your peak in 2020. This can be soul destroying for many to see what they have lost but it needs to happen as your body moves through the cycle of peak fitness and then rebuilding. What goes up must comes down to allow you to build to a higher level for the following season. I frequently find myself saying to my athletes at this time of the year that I’m not interested in seeing great numbers now, I want to see smart sensible consistent training that progressively builds. This will then put them in the best position possible to start a more focussed race build in 2021.

This phase between now and Christmas usually comes in 2 phases for my athletes. The first being prepare to train phase which usually last 4 weeks. This usually consists of a more low intensity aerobic work to get their bodies and minds ready to introduce more challenging sessions in the next phase (although highly athlete dependent). Usually by the end of the 4-week period the athletes have blown off the cobwebs and they start to feel pretty good after what may seem like a slow start. Patience is key because it will take 4 weeks before you start to feel more depth of fitness that will allow you to dig a lot deeper in the next phase.

The second phase of training which lasts through to the New Year will be the get fitter & have fun pushing phase. This is where small amount of higher intensity is introduced to stimulate their neuromuscular system (if the athlete is injury free of course) in combination with of mixed intensity & strength work. This is so important because these shorter harder effort helps to build speed, strength and good technique. Crucially also this helps to rebuild the messaging pathways from your brain to your powerful fast-twitch muscle fibres. This will turn your nerves into a fibre optic cable like delivery system enabling you to gain access to more and more of these fibres. When you don’t use it, you lose and weaken your access to these fibres. It’s all just a process of rebuilding. The emphasis should also be on quality not quantity, there is no need for big volume yet.

How we use metrics is also hugely important. What is crucial in the early stages of training is that the athlete re-connects with their RPE (Rate of perceived effort) to drive training intensity. It’s this mind-body connection that is so important to establish as the foundation to all triathlon training, no matter what phase of training you are in. The numbers don’t always tell you the truth; your body does so have the confidence to trust what it’s telling you. This is why my athletes will use a very simple 4 level scale of RPE to drive all of most of their training at this time of the year. I’ve highlighted this below:

For swimming

  • Easy (Keep the stroke long, easy & smooth)  

  • Moderate (Something with a nice bit of tempo & rhythm)  

  • Strong (Focussed harder effort)  

  • All out (As the name suggests)  

For biking & running

  • Easy (Conversational pace)  

  • Moderate (Something with a nice bit of tempo & rhythm) 

  • Strong (Focussed harder effort) 

  • All out (As the name suggests)  

The beauty of this is the simplicity of it; it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work it out. There is no magic number to hit (rest assured there is no such thing – just a sensible range) and it gives the athlete plenty of bandwidth to play with different intensities. And ‘play’ is the important word at this stage of the season as we slowly start to rebuild fitness. It’s also fun for the athlete because they get to dictate how hard or easy they work on a specific day depending on how they are feeling. Because as we know 150 watts doesn’t always feel like 150 watts should, those smart athletes amongst you will know what I mean by this. When this happens RPE is your greatest friend but all too often athletes ignore this in favour of what the numbers are telling them.

How we define training or racing intensity will always be governed by what the acclaimed sports scientist Dr Stephen Seiler would call “The Holy Trinity’ of three elements:

  1. RPE (Rate perceived effort)
  2. Pace/ power
  3. Heart rate

It will always be RPE that wins over all others because it will always tell you the truth about how hard you are working. The others can be affected by way too many things to be the guiding light. This is why when you watch some of the best athletes in the world race; very few purely do it by just numbers. So learn to develop this now and don’t be afraid of it because your interpretation of it will only go from strength to strength as the season progresses.

For further reading check out this article I wrote on this subject a few years ago, never has it had more relevance than now.

Drowning in data, gadgets & misinformation

If you can be smart, patient and put the right building blocks in place you set up the strongest possible foundations for a successful 2021…whatever it may throw at us. One thing is for sure after the year we’ve just had we’ll be ready for it!

Film recommendation

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Transamericana – Ricky Gates 3700 mile run across America

If you love long distance running, beautiful cinematography & wild landscapes you’ll really enjoy this film. Ricky Gates is well known ultra distance runner, writer and photographer. One of his life goals was to run across America with only a small backpack containing a few essentials. He did it the hard way too, sleeping outside in a sleeping bag using only a piece of tarpaulin to protect him from the elements. He also tries to explore the political element of a divided nation which I’m not sure he fully realised but that doesn’t take away from the beauty of the amazing challenge he managed to over come.

Book recommendation

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Angelo Dundee – My view from the corner 

Angelo Dundee’s name will always be synonamous with the late great Muhammad Ali. Angelo was his trainer and manager for his entire boxing career. Famous in his own right because of this he also went on to train some of the greatest boxers of our time including Sugar Ray Leonard & George Foreman. Not only was he a brilliant trainer but he was also one of sports truly great characters of that golden era of boxing. This book charts his life and experiences with these amazing boxers, it’s worth reading for the inside take on Ali alone. This was one of those books I couldn’t put down and didn’t want to finish because it’s such a riveting hilarious read.

Instagram posts of the month 



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Team Nagi out & about


That face when you have just smashed your 1500m PB by over a minute…nice work Vickster!


Squad resistance week T-shirt winner (He definitely wasn’t relaxed after wearing that for an hour!)


Welcome back to the team Alex Tanti…now living the highlife in Barcelona!


Lanzarote is open once again ladies & gents and here’s our globetrotter Peter to prove it!


Loved this…thanks Tash! We (and you) will be back there one day soon if only to pick up that dummy (lol)


‘Stealth Bishop’ logging those technical winter miles!


Not sure why this sign on the wall of the local pool got me thinking of triathlete’s !?


Fair play…that brownie cake looks delish, i’ll send you my address for the next batch LB


Wish we were here, Hawaii we will be back! #TeamHill2019


Some swim kids just never grow up…#AquamanRobertson


Mountain goat/girl in her natural element


Always posing #LePoseur