“A blog, what’s that’?

My first thoughts when the idea of writing one was first presented to me. Closely followed by my second thoughts:

“Why would I do that?

Fast forward about 10 years and here I am… writing the first blog for my new website.

Yes this post has actually been in progress for 10 years, possibly the longest ever blog post?

OK enough procrastination, why has it taken so long you may ask?

To answer that I will have to go into a bit of history, so maybe i should start at the beginning? Or at least go back a little while.

You are probably reading this because you are interested in triathlon, me being a triathlon coach and all. So I’ll start there.

I first came into triathlon in October 2002, prior to this I was working for the RYA as a Sport Scientist with the Olympic Development programme. In October,  my life as I knew it would change dramatically. I started as a Physiologist for the Olympic Development Programme in Loughborough for triathlon, so the same job, different sport.  

I come from an endurance sport background, being a cyclist, so triathlon did suit my sporting interests more, but up until then triathlon had not really figured on my radar. To cut a long story short, over the next few years I would work with pretty much all the big names of Olympic Triathlon from 2002 – 2010, leading the science team into Athens and Beijing Olympics. It was at this time things began to change.  

For Beijing Olympics I was named as Performance manager for the Women’s team, as the head coach had left in February, as well as Sport Science Manager. This was a great experience but ultimately we came away empty handed. This is one of the key catalysts to me moving more towards coaching than science.  

After Beijing and into 2010 my career was progressing as most do: you are good at a job, but the only way to progress is to move into management, and so I joined the senior management team for the Olympic Team. Whilst doing this I began my coaching journey, initially working with a local club and then some individual athletes. Whilst doing this I realised this was the wrong time for me to be in management. I like getting my hands dirty, I enjoy the direct challenges of working with athletes. I wasn’t a manager, not yet at least.   

Circumstances once again went my way, the Head Coach of the Performance Centre in Loughborough left in 2010, and I was appointed to take over a programme that had a lot of talent, but that wasn’t producing results. Within 12 months we had Elite duathlon medalists, a World U23 winner, World Cup podiums and athletes progressing in the WTS circuit. All of whom had been struggling to reach their potential. In 2011 I started working with Lucy Hall who at the time was a junior, but was being touted as a team player for the London Olympics.

Controversial, yes of course, it’s a ‘Marmite’ discussion for sure. But it was going to happen, so we made it our job to get Lucy in. To complicate things I was also coaching another female athlete who had a good case for the place, this required careful management and a lot of honest open conversations.

I don’t like playing games, on that front I’m pretty simple (others would probably say on many fronts…), to quote an 80s go show ‘say what you see’ (which one anyone)? That’s how I work, it’s just straight talking, people know where they are and hopefully respect that.

The rest is history, Lucy was an Olympian, performing her role admirably, unfortunately the team leader wasn’t quite able to finish it off, but that’s racing! We were now able to move on with her complete triathlon career.

Post London 2012 there was a shuffle in the management, that was not to my liking, it didn’t suit my style of coaching each athlete the way they needed, and was very much focussed upon a model I was not comfortable with. Time to go! I didn’t want to buy what they were selling, and they didn’t want to buy what I was selling.

This day was always going to come, the circumstances may have been different, but now into my 40s with a young daughter and another on the way, I didn’t want to be spending 3-4 months of the year away from home. So back in 2011 we (my wife and I) had created Intelligent Triathlon Training, initially as simply an information website, but with the platform to start coaching to a wider audience.  

Since 2014 I have been full time coaching mainly middle and long distance non drafting athletes, using my experiences from the worlds of sport science, coaching and management to work with Pros, and AG athletes.  

So back to the original question of ‘why has it taken you so long to write a blog’?

There are so many topics and aspects to triathlon there are endless options to talk about. However I view all these things as interrelated, they overlap with other areas, they depend upon an individual’s experience, situations, strength weaknesses etc, that I find it difficult to write anything that I think people will be interested in. I preferred (and still do to be honest) to talk to people 1:1. It’s why you will never see generic ‘12-weeks to an Ironman’ programmes sold or offered by me.  

Setting up a coaching business and looking around you can find those programmes all over and as a coach they are easy money. You write a programme and if it’s any good people will pay over and over again. However, when I thought about writing them, I always came back to ‘but what if they can’t swim as well/swim really well’ etc. I would need thousands of programmes to cover every eventuality. Which is obviously not practical, so I wont do it. Ever! You can quote me on that…

So why am I now writing a blog?

Because Clare told me I need to! And in truth, it’s a really good way of clarifying my thoughts, and putting some ideas out there for others to think about.

Tune in for the next one which will be focussing on why a scientific approach is favoured by ITT.

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