“I started working with Mark after several years of getting close to a sub 10 Ironman, but always falling slightly short of the performance target I had set myself. I knew the gains I needed to find were predominantly on the bike, whilst also maintaining the strong swim and run that had made me competitive as a top age grouper and regular Kona qualifier for a number of years. Finding these gains were challenged by a demanding full-time job and the fact I was already working very hard towards my Ironman goals… Plus I am a woman over 40 and improvements become harder and harder to find at my age.
I’d seen what Mark had done in transforming the bike performances of other athletes and liked his very focused, scientific and intelligent approach to programming, it suits my own ‘geeky’ predisposition! Mark’s approach is very much tailored to the individual and is responsive and meticulously planned, essential when balancing a decent training load with full-time work. I need to know what I’m doing, when I’m doing it and why.
Mark is also good at looking beyond the numbers and understanding how personal circumstances, personality and preference effects how an individual engages with the programme. I enjoy and appreciate the fact that Mark gives as much attention and energy to me as a 40 something age grouper as he does his pro athletes.
Mark’s coaching philosophy has seemed, for me as an athlete, to focus on building a programme and race strategy around my strengths rather than spending too much time developing my weaknesses, the difference in coaching philosophy is subtle but its influence has been significant in me moving towards my sub 10 target. With Mark’s support and guidance and smart programming, I started to see the bike gains that had eluded me for many years and, for me most significantly, allowed me to execute a well-paced and controlled Ironman to post my fastest ever Ironman at 41 years old. The majority of the gains came on the bike but riding so much stronger allowed me to also run to my potential too. I achieved my goal at Kalmar, Sweden in 2018 with a 9hr53 Ironman and a 3:26 marathon. It also would have secured my 5th Kona slot if I’d been able to take it!”
Claire Shea-Simonds, Operations Officer, Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme