Year in the life of the coach…

A year can be a long time – and yet feel like no time at all! In mid August, I celebrated having had Tri Coaching as a company for a year, and now having done only the third race myself in that time I thought I’d look back on it.

 

This time last year I was working full time – for bike distributor Velotech – and doing the coaching on the side. From there it gave me a stable point to grow my client base; I’m extremely grateful for the help people have given me in promoting our services here and passing on recommendations. Since March I’ve been able to coach full time across all the services that I offer. It hasn’t been an easy journey, but with 14 athletes now on rolling coaching plans, and new people coming for swim and run lessons on a weekly basis, this gives me a point to say a massive thank you for the support. Also this gives me the chance to build up the services and knowledge that I can offer to everyone! It seems that my swim and run blogs on a Tuesday and Friday have gone down well – and long may they continue… I’m constantly looking for new things to add, so if anyone has any particular questions do give us a shout!

 

Racing has taken a slightly different trajectory to the coaching aspect – but I think it’s important to share. Not only my results, but also the experiences that I have learnt from, and what I can pass on. This time last year I had just started building training back up having finished 5th in age at the Euro Age Group standard distance tri in Turkey and then missing out on the Worlds in London but a small amount. Having a break was great, it gave me a chance to recover mentally and just get back to enjoying training. Unfortunately I rolled my ankle in a local 5km race pretty badly – it was the first time I’ve done that and with some serious ligament and tendon damage I wasn’t able to run until after Christmas. Even cycling and swimming were painful so it meant that I wasn’t doing much of my own training while I was preparing everyone else for their assault on 2014! Slightly frustrating, but gave me the time and energy to work on Tri Coaching.

Heading through the February and March I was pain free and starting to train again – but in doing what I try to stop my athletes from doing, managed to give myself a minor stress fracture in my shin in April – racing my warm up event at Burnham, a super sprint caused a lot of pain and soreness. Unfortunately this stress fracture wasn’t really diagnosed until the summer – but with the soreness and pain, I didn’t run for yet more time! I cancelled entries to events at Dorney and Ellesmere Port, and focussed on trying to race well at the Euros in Austria. After things going so well in 2013 for me, Austria wasn’t quite the same success. Vomitting twice on the bike with my HR sky high was a low point, and after that just getting round felt like an achievement. Needless to say it wasn’t quite what I’d hoped for, however given the lack of real preparation it wasn’t a major surprise.

Post Austria called for a stress and guilt free relax from training, heal up mentally and physically and the last 6 weeks I’ve had fun with training. Pain free and smiling, training when I want to, I entered Warwick triathlon in Stratford upon Avon this weekend just to enjoy a race. The swim was great, even if it was short. The bike was ok (on my commuter, after some mechanical issues with my race bike), and I smiled and was pain free on the run. Not the fastest but it really didn’t matter. It was so nice to see may people new to triathlon smiling and enjoying races, high 5ing people and waving. It certainly reminded me why I do triathlons, and why I race.

 

So what have I learnt this year?

– Do what your coach tells you! I’ve spent a lot of this year reassuring athletes that they don’t need to do more, and that it doesn’t matter that they are missing sessions etc, only to start running too hard and too much and cause myself another needless injury.

– Race for enjoyment. We aren’t pros, our livelihoods don’t depend on our races. If you don’t hit your targets, it’s not the end of the world. Review it, work out what went wrong for sure. But remember why you started racing in the first place.

– There is more to life than sport. Time out to recover and relax has helped me build my business. I’ve also seen my girlfriend struggle with an invisible but occasionally debilitating illness and yet still be one of the happiest and most positive people I know – read her blog here.

 

I have been really lucky to have had all different sorts of success stories across the board with my clients this year. From Rich, Louise, Liz and Kathryn learning to swim from the start, to Tim Lewis doing his first triathlon at Wimbleball and following up with IM Wales. Sam King has gotten over some real knee niggles and issues to run pain free now. Ash and Rita qualifying and then smashing it at the World Age Groups in Canada and Andy Lewis having storming successes on the ITU Para Tri circuit. 2014 has been an exciting year for me and I hope I can deliver for you guys into 2015.

 

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Prehab and Protect Yourself – The Performance Matrix

Injury sometimes feels like an inevitable part of sport – in some way shape or form. Whether its annoying niggles, tweaks and strains or a full on muscular or joint issue – to the more serious damage that can occur, no-one wants to spend time out of training and racing because of an injury. Funnily enough a lot of these problems can be prevented; either by better structured training plans to prevent over use and burn out. Or by making sure that the relevant joints and muscles are strengthened to ensure that the body and limbs are properly prepared to deal with the shocks that particular exercises can put put on the body. I’m reminded of this quote/mantra from my father:

“Proper Preparation Prevents P*** Poor Performance”

Having had a relatively serious ankle injury through the winter and struggling to rebuild my running, I went to meet with our partners, The Physio Clinic/The Sports Performance Clinic. The idea of meeting with Matt was to run through their Performance Matrix screening. The screening checks for strength, mobility and control issues via 10 different exercises. From this, Matt could then give me a range of exercises that would strengthen my weak areas.

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In the event, I scored 11 out of 50 points, a lower score is better as it highlights fewer weaknesses. I was pretty happy with my score – but it highlighted major weakness around the lower leg and foot. This remained true both for general alignment and co-ordination (low threshold) and for strength and speed (high threshold). On the positive side, my back, hips and shoulders are assets to my sporting performance. Matt has given me 6 exercises to build into the S&C programme that he has written me to work on these weaknesses – especially toward the Europeans!

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The Performance Matrix is good tool to anyone looking to get into sport, looking to protect themselves from injury, or looking to improve their results and get the most out of their abilities. It covers all sports as well, not only swim/bike/run; so for high strength/force sports like golf, cricket, netball, basketball and tennis its great for the shoulders – as well as rugby, football for the lower body.

If you are one of our athletes or just interested in having a Performance Matrix Screen and how it can help you, get in contact with us!

Lisbon South Scouting Trip

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Last weekend I took a trip over to Lisbon in Portugal, to recce the area and facilities of the company who approached us to run training camps. Lisbon South is the brain child of Antonio Barbosa, a bike shop owner and keen cyclist, who didn’t see why athletes weren’t coming to Portugal as much as they do to mainland Spain, the Balearic Islands or the Canary Islands for warm weather training. What he has done is put together a package that hopefully will suit athletes of all levels from novice to elite, individuals, groups and families.

Lisbon South is situated in Alcochete, a little village on the south of the River Tejo. When I arrived at the airport in Lisbon, rather than taking the 20 minute drive over the river to the hotel initially, we went and explored west of Lisbon, toward the beautiful Cascais, Guincho beach and Sintra. It is this side of town that Antonio has his bike shop with his business partner Joao, and as a Trek bike dealer gives him the opportunity to rent out top level Trek Madones – as well as offering lots of other support (spares, mechanic, sports nutrition, GPS etc). Unfortunately you can’t ride over from the base to this area – bikes aren’t allowed to be ridden across the Vasco de Gama bridge, but it can be arranged to transport bikes over to Sintra to ride around the region. What really struck me was that even in the car, at rush hour, once we were out of the city itself, the roads were almost empty bar cyclists!

While I was in Portugal I had the opportunity to swim, ride and run. One of the services that the Lisbon South package offers is guides for bike routes – and at speeds to suit! If you are an experienced, high end athlete, Joao will lead you a merry dance across the varied countryside – he has raced at Portuguese elite national championships on the road and mountain bike. Don’t let this put you off however; if you are just starting out or feeling more circumspect on a bike, Antonio knows the area well – and his good humour and knowledge will keep you interested on whatever rides you feel up to. If neither of these options are up your street, and you just want to explore, Antonio can furnish you with a GPS unit to help point you in the right direction and route maps for if you find yourself lost! Being out on the road was a pleasure having had some interesting experiences at home – the roads were 95% smooth, and where there were potholes there wasn’t the need to swing right in to the road to avoid them. Even the biggest roads were quiet by British standards and there was a real variety of terrain and views.

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East of Alcochete is prime breeding ground both for bulls and horses.

Running around Alcochete was good fun – predominantly flat with a few gradual climbs – but plenty to do both on road and off. Running along the river was lovely, especially early in the morning when no-one was around! Because this part of the river is the estuary, you can swim in the river here, it’s great for open water swimming. Alternatively there is a great 25m pool facility a short travel from the hotel for the more tri minded athletes. Finally for the athletes looking for a full training programme will be pleased to know that a 2 minute walk from the hotel is a gym with a full complement of equipment – machines, free weights, TRX/stability equipment – and a sauna/steam room! The gym also does sports massage for those coming out and doing hard training weeks and in need of a little assistance with recovery! Outside the gym is a 60m sprint track as well for athletes wanting to do some power work.

Alcochete is a picturesque little village with plenty of places to eat, drink or just chill out. Because it is quiet, its great for downtime between training sessions, though on the edge of town there are places to go out dancing if your training week is more about balance than all out work!

picstitchAlcochete is like a view out of a postcard

Having been out to Lisbon South, I’d happily go again as an athlete – no questions asked. The flight is short, the weather is fairly guaranteed, the area is lovely. Its a minor downside that not all the facilities are right on base – but given that its all pretty much within walking distance for gym or pool swim from the Hotel Alfoz, its certainly a competitive option to elsewhere on the continent.

The intention for us is that we can run camps for Lisbon South – for varying levels of cyclist or triathlete – and also run camps/training weeks under our own banner, hopefully encouraging some fun in our usual way with training but also giving the option to go and see the sights, get some culture!

Video Coaching for Swimming is Here!

It was great to sit down and chat with Jon and Holly, owners of our partners at the Triathlon Shop in Bristol to nail down a very important agreement for us.

In May, the Triathlon Shop will be officially moving to the Harbourside in Bristol from its current Temple Quay/Station location. As a part of that expansion, they will have the only Elite Endless Pool (capable of pumping water at 50s/100yard pace!) in the south west of the UK. In addition it will be the only one available to private hire!

As of the 1st week in June, we at Tri-Coaching will be the sole coach using the Triathlon Shop’s pool facilities with a range of different value packages; hopefully something to suit everyone’s pocket and requirements. We cannot wait to grow our partnership – but also make the most of an amazing facility; video swim analysis is something that many athletes have already been asking us about and been after for quite a long time. We should have bookings available very soon.

In addition to our services, the Triathlon Shop will also have a competition of some kind to see if anyone can “outswim” the pool. My fastest 100m race was 51.3 long course (50m pool for triathletes reading) so it will be interesting to see if anyone can get close to the challenge!! Check back soon for more info!

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New Partner, Lisbon South

Over the last 2 months or so, we’ve been talking to Antonio and Joao in Alcochete – home to a new training base venue Lisbon South. We can’t wait to see more of what they’ve got – and the amazing surroundings – so we’re going out on Thursday for a long weekend of training there and to recce what the area is like!

The idea with partnering with a business like this is that we can offer extra services;  We will be able to run our own camps (see here for further news as it happens), and be able to offer athletes an option in training holidays with a bit of culture and something different to enjoy!

With the opportunity to swim in open water, bike in the hills or on the flat and run on and off road, there are plenty of options, making this an ideal venue to visit!

New Website Launch – Phase 1!

Its only taken us 11 months from idea to actual realisation, but we now have have a functioning website to work from, to offer information and post handy hints and tips! I’m writing this while watching the build up to the Boat Race – and feeling disappointed that we didn’t get to race last week because of the high winds!!

Have a look around, the website is due to be an evolving process but certainly offers everything we want to show from a swim, bike and run coaching perspective!