Coaching News June

Coaching News June

In the same way that May Week is now in June, our recent monthly newsletters are making their appearance in what could technically be described as a month late, even though effectively they have just tripped the calendar by a day.  And so, we therefore find ourselves in July with half the year now behind us and, for many athletes, crunch time is the weeks now ahead.  The events are coming thick and fast with the world duathlon championships, the European standard triathlon championships and Ironman Bolton all taking place in July.
Whilst this is therefore no time for some athletes to be making substantial changes in their exercise regimes, we have received several questions of late concerning nutrition and, in particular, from athletes seeking guidance on how to set themselves up for the day.  Therefore, Sarah has therefore given this some thought and presents her case for breakfast.

‘Breakfast cereal’ has become a modern paradox.  There is now so much evidence for the benefits of eating a substantial and low GI meal at the start of the day and yet food manufacturers continue to market refined carbohydrate as the ideal breakfast. (GI = glycaemic index; a ranking of foods based on their immediate effect on blood sugar levels).

The idea of eating grains for breakfast dates back to the late 19th century when food reformers called for a cut back on excessive meat consumption, and explored vegetarian alternatives.  Corn, oats and wheat were cheap to grow and methods were gradually found to make these grains palatable, with a certain amount of cooking involved.

With advances in food processing in the 20th century – hulling, rolling, puffing – breakfast cereals, which could now be eaten without cooking, became big business.  The more sophisticated processing increased the shelf life of the cereal, but also robbed the grains of their nutritional value.  The bran and germ were refined out – at the time, these were thought to interfere with digestion and nutrient absorption – but this process also removed important nutrients such as vitamin B and iron.  To improve the flavour, sugar was added.

Nowadays, breakfast cereals are likely to be fortified with minerals and vitamins in an attempt to boost their nutrient value, but many are still the result of over-refined grains, and so don’t provide much in the way of fibre and tend to be relatively high GI.

Eating breakfast early in the morning kick-starts your metabolism, the energy production process, and starts fuelling for your muscles and brain.  You should feel more alert following this first meal of the day and, by making it a substantial and low GI meal, you should feel more satiated for longer and avoid possible blood sugar and insulin spikes following your next meal.

Previous research has also shown that the thermic effect of food (calories burned due to digestion) is lower in the evening than in the morning, possibly due to slower emptying of the stomach.  A review of this and related research has led to the creation of the Big Breakfast Study, funded by the Medical Research Council.  Among other objectives, the study aims to assess the impact of meal times on the body’s energy expenditure processes.  The outcomes will contribute to improved nutritional guidelines, based on optimising the timing of calorie consumption.  The study will measure the effect of meal times on body weight, as well as blood pressure, blood glucose, insulin and cholesterol levels, and appetite.

I haven’t yet found out when this study is due to conclude but I’ll keep an eye on it and keep you posted.

In the meantime, I’d like to encourage you to do your own research.  The cereal manufacturers have conditioned us into thinking that the first meal of the day must be based on refined grains, but why is this when, at other times of the day, we are more inclined to eat balanced meals containing a protein source such as meat or fish, vegetables and complex carbs.  I want to challenge that thinking and ask you, would you eat casserole for breakfast?  Or rice?  Or salad?  Put your social conditioning to one side for a while and consider what a substantial and low GI breakfast could look like.  By front-loading your day (consuming most of your calories in the morning), you will also be less reliant on your evening meal for refuelling.   Especially for those of you doing the bulk of your training in the evenings, this is surely worth a try.

As with any aspect of your training regime, please make sure you introduce changes gradually; radically changing your eating habits can risk gastric discomfort.  But if you decide to give it a go, please let me know how you get on.

A final word on breakfast cereals – there is still a place for some of these in your food cupboard.  Those made without added sugar such as Weetabix or Branflakes, when served with milk, make a nutritious snack or small pre-exercise meal when time is tight.

For more information on the Big Breakfast Study read https://www.insight.mrc.ac.uk/2018/06/19/do-meal-timings-matter/

Food for thought, as ever.  It may also be speaking the obvious, however, please also give some thought to your hydration strategy at present.  This is important, not only for racing but also before, during and after your training sessions.  The more effective your hydration strategy, the more effective your training sessions will be and the sooner you will be able to recover and get out on your next session.

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Coaching News – May

Another month of rapid progress with the racing coming thick and fast along with, finally, the arrival of summer.  We are now at the point of refining plans and tapering as the international season approaches too.  So, well done to everyone who has raced well so far this season and best wishes for those whose A races are still to come.  For those requiring pre Bolton or pre Tartu/Glasgow/Denmark/check ups and testing, please contact us soonest because the days are filling up fast.

 

I had wished to add a little more flavour to this month’s newsletter, however by necessity we have had to be busy with introducing a Privacy Policy in compliance with the General Data Protection Regulations.  By necessity, we hold a range of personal information including dates of birth, videos and medical information for the personal benefit of our customers and will continue to control and use this information in accordance with the Data Protection Act (2018). Full details are available on our website www.appliedtri.co.uk  If you have any questions or concerns with the way in which we store and use this information, please do not hesitate to contact us.  We also respect your privacy in terms of making contact and therefore, should you wish to be removed from the Applied Triathlon Coaching mailing list now, or at any time in the future, then please do not hesitate to contact us.

 

 

Privacy policy

 

  1. About this policy

1.1.   This policy explains when and why we collect personal information about you, our customer, how we use it and how we keep it secure; and your rights in relation to it.

1.2.   We may collect, use and store your personal data, as described in this Privacy Policy and as described when we collect data from you.

1.3.   We reserve the right to amend this Policy from time to time without prior notice. You are advised to check our website www.appliedtri.co.uk regularly for any amendments (but amendments will not be applied retrospectively).

1.4.   We will always comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) when dealing with your personal data.  Further details on the GDPR can be found at the website for the Information Commissioner (https://ico.org.uk/). For the purposes of the GDPR, we will be the ‘controller’ of all personal data we hold about you.

 

  1. Who are we?

2.1.   We are Applied Triathlon Coaching, or any other division of the explorerJC.com group providing services to you.   

2.2.   We can be contacted using the details displayed on our website at www.appliedtri.co.uk.

 

  1. How we protect your personal data

3.1.   From 25th May 2018 we will have implemented generally accepted standards of technology and operational security in order to protect your personal data from loss, misuse or unauthorised alteration or destruction.

3.2.   We will never pass on your personal data to any third party.

3.3.   We will notify you promptly in the event of any breach of your personal data which might expose you to serious risk.

 

  1. What information we collect and why

Type of information

Purpose

Legal basis for processing

Name, address, telephone number, email address

Managing the relationship with the customer.

For the purpose of our legitimate interests in operating the company.

Emergency contact details

Contacting next of kin in the event of an emergency.

Protecting the customer’s vital interests.

Date of birth / age related information

Managing membership categories which are age related. 

Provision of personalised services and advice to the customer.

For the purpose of our legitimate interests in operating the company.

Gender

Provision of adequate facilities for members.

Reporting membership and participation information to our National Governing Body (BTF) British Triathlon Federation.

Provision of personalised services and advice to the customer.

For the purpose of our legitimate interests in operating the company.

For the purposes of our legitimate interests in making sure that we can provide sufficient and suitable facilities for each gender. 

For the purposes of our legitimate interests in organising race entries for the benefit of Members of the Club.

Photos and videos of customers

Publishing on the company’s website and social media pages and using in press releases.

As part of assessment and analysis of customer’s swim, run and bike technique.

For the purpose of our legitimate interests in operating the company.

Consent: we will seek the customer’s consent on the registration form.

The customer may withdraw their consent at any time by contacting us by e-mail or letter.

Medical conditions

For health & safety.

For the safe managing and supervision of the customer.

Provision of personalised services and advice to the customer.

Protecting the customer’s vital interests.

Body composition data, e.g. weight, height, BMR, etc

Provision of personalised services and advice to the customer.

For the purpose of our legitimate interests in operating the company.

 

 

 

 

Version 1.0 dated 30/05/2018.  We reserve the right to update or amend this privacy policy at any time.

 

Applied Triathlon Coaching is a division of explorerjc.com.

explorerjc.com is a UK registered Limited Company, registration number 04431009.

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Coaching News – April

As the numbers of coached and tested athletes at Applied Triathlon has increased, the range of experience of athlete has broadened.   Therefore, we increasingly find ourselves trying to ascertain the most effective way of both establishing the most appropriate training for this widening range of individuals as well as redefining our justifications and explanations for delivering that training.  Where running form is concerned, however, we keep going full circle.  No matter how much we explore the current academic literature and coach education guidance, we become more concerned by the inconsistencies we find.  Of course, we continue to make revisions to our coaching model as we discover more about this complex subject, and continuous learning certainly takes place.  However, the more we read and observe, the more confident we become that our approach to Natural Running Form is heading in the right direction.

 

Running is often considered to be simple activity – what Olympian Ron Clarke once described as putting one foot in front of the other and repeat.  It is generally understood that those with the best running genes who train the hardest are most likely to win.  However, running can almost certainly be described as a skill and this means that there must be a right or most effective way to do it.  Running is however a skill that is rarely effectively taught.

 

All runners have stylistic differences – coach education confirms this – but it is the similarities which are important.   On closer inspection the best runners pretty much all do the same thing – foot contact, stance, toe off –  with less able runners completing the same process but less efficiency and less effectively.  Good runners are graceful; their running looks effortless and they (nearly) always look like good runners.  Ancient Greek paintings of runners display a similarity of running form whether depicting fast or slow running which is very similar to how Mo Farah runs.  There is an accepted link between consistency of training and performance but is there a link between consistency of form and consistency of training?

 

Conversely, less efficient runners look like poor runners and their running form often differs according to their running pace.  Despite the development of modern running shoes, improvements in coach education (both in content and methodology) and increased scientific understanding, injury rates remain consistent across the endurance running community.  Some of these injuries can be associated with differing form and therefore, is there a link with inconsistent form and increased risk of injury?

 

There are contradictory view points on what constitutes good running form, with opinion varying from “running style [being] ordained at birth” through to “stature and development” and thus currently there is no accepted (academic or coach) model of running that depicts good form.  This lack of a model has resulted in the force production concept of running remaining in vogue in coach education for the development of endurance athletes.  In simple terms, force is applied beneath and behind the runner to create propulsion.  This application of force comes at the price of greater ground reaction forces however, and therefore modern running shoes are provided with appropriate cushioning to reduce the effect this has on the runner.  This good intention of the added protection in the cushioned running shoe has however produced unintended consequences.  It has restricted sensory feedback, increased muscular atrophy of the key running muscles and enabled maladapted people to allow running with a heel striking action.  The increased impact transient as a result of heel striking is known to be a contributory factor in running injuries.  Combined with the modern lifestyle, the modern running shoe has allowed us to exceed our biomechanical capabilities in the search of running increased distances and intensities.

 

The recent barefoot running trend (better described as the re emergence of the minimalist running shoe) was borne out of identifying the need to reduce the risk of injury for endurance runners.  However, the trend is now pretty much gone, without establishing a legacy worthy of the initial noise it briefly made within the running community.  Efforts by authors of such work as Running Form (Danny Abshire), Chi Running (Danny Dreyer) and The Pose Method (Dr. Nicholas Romanov), with additional research by evolutionary biologist Professor Daniel Lieberman, established a plausible case but this was perhaps undermined by academic researchers not finding sufficient supporting evidence for the barefoot concept within the laboratory.

 

It could be more strongly argued however that the failing of this movement was more in the inability of coaches and athletes to translate the drills and movements successfully into their everyday running without compromising their current level of performance.  Or indeed risking injury, which was counter-productive to the initial objective of runners changing running form, especially by those who forced the pace of transition.  Such impact as remains has probably been to encourage athletes and coaches to focus a little more on running form in training as opposed to outright performance, but it has been unclear which of the drills are appropriate for whom and how these drills are to be integrated into the actual process of running.

 

Lieberman states that it is becoming increasingly more certain that western society is suffering from two modern afflictions:  a surfeit of highly calorific, readily available foodstuff and [leading] an increasingly sedentary lifestyle.  For long-term well being, this is proving to be a deadly combination.  Running remains the most easily accessible and potentially effective antidote to both.  However, the misunderstanding of appropriate drills leading to the misguided coaching of running is not only unlikely to effectively support those who currently run, but is also unlikely to encourage those who really need to participate in this most natural of activities.

 

Therefore, we shall continue to try to understand which drills work and why and to offer an easy to follow, safe and appropriate model of running for our athletes and non athletes to follow.  In time, with further understanding, there is no reason why running cannot be considered comparable to other skills.  Runners could be taught to effectively tune into the process and learn to consciously control running until the new form becomes a part of the subconscious.

 

Here endeth the sermon for today!  In other news, Applied Triathlon is now a Triathlon England registered triathlon club and all coached athletes can consider themselves to be club members.  To take full advantage of this, please join Triathlon England as an individual member and annotate Applied Triathlon as your club.

 

We have events a plenty on the horizon, lots more athlete testing and analysis to complete and our Monday swim slot at Woodgreen Leisure open air 50m pool to look forward to!  Please keep up the good training guys!

 

JC

 

 

 

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Coaching News – March

Well, what a month this has been.  Sadly, in most cases, we have not been able to put all the hard work in training into practice this month due to the weather which has resulted in multiple race postponements.  In duathlon in particular, we are used to the weather interfering with races, but I do not recall an occasion when so many events have been cancelled or postponed.  Not only does this cause problems for scheduling the re arranged events, we lose out on the opportunity of proving the effectiveness of the winter training.  All is not lost however, as you have all worked very hard to ensure that you have maintained your training wherever possible.  Training indoors may not always be as effective as getting outside but I am confident that many of your fellow competitors have simply been striking through their training with another missed session and so I am very pleased that you have all continued to stick with it despite the conditions.

 

That said, we have seen some strong racing performances this month both before the weather deteriorated and yesterday at the National Duathlon Championships.  Progress has been made across the board and, the training data has supported the potential for improved performance where athletes haven’t been able to race. Therefore, we must push on and realign the training for the next set of objectives and rely on the training data assuming that this would have translated into improved performances in every case.

 

What then still awaits us this year?  Next up are the early season marathons with athletes running at both London and Manchester – good luck guys!  Then the focus switches to the European Middle Distance Duathlon championships followed a few weeks later by the World Standard and Sprint Distance races, both events being held in Denmark.  During this period, I will continue to run bike lactate testing from the clinic at Weedon and will be leading bike recces over the UK Ironman course at Bolton for those who are targeting this as their main event this year.  For those aiming to race in the triathlons at Tartu and Glasgow in July and August (or Bolton) or trying to qualify for next year’s triathlons, I have now confirmed the booking at the 50m heated, open air pool in Banbury on Monday evenings.  This session is available to all levels of swimmers with an emphasis on stroke improvement initially, followed by conditioning later in the season.  There may be the opportunity for video analysis, but this is still being negotiated at present.  For those awaiting a swim video analysis session at Tiddenfoot, this has been penciled in for Saturday 14th April.  Any takers for either sessions should contact me soonest, please.

 

For the Long Distance Duathlon team, the first round of qualification has now been completed – congratulations to all.  Please note that the next cut off for discounted race entry is in a few days’ time.  Please don’t miss out!  I will soon be trying to get confirmation of the second run course from the race organiser for this year so that we can prepare the appropriate training.  The last-minute changes last year certainly affected performances across the board!  More news on this will therefore follow.

 

A much less controversial newsletter this month and I will have to postpone the answer to the question received a couple of weeks ago as to why we test for lactate threshold and turn points rather than VO2.  There is a short answer to this question, however, I would rather explain it in more length in my response.  What spare time we currently have has been taken up with both coaching and reviewing my work on Natural Running Form.  We continue to operate a programme of continuous improvement on all the work we undertake and I have recently returned to the topic of running form to both improve the quality of our analysis as well as improve the clarity of the reporting.  The ultimate objective is to not only report on what we discover on each individual athlete within our analysis, but also to produce a visual model of what we perceive good running form to be.  This is no small task and is certainly proving to be one of the most challenging and yet exciting tasks we have undertaken.  It will certainly save me from having to do some of my own training for a while and so I will have to continue to train vicariously through all your efforts!

 

Please keep up the hard work.

 

Cheers

 

JC

 

 

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Coaching News February

I had intended to write about other matters this month, however, I received a lot of feedback including some questions on last month’s musings (https://naturalrunningform.wordpress.com/2018/02/01/coaching-news-january/), and therefore I have decided to respond to this first.

I am reliably informed that the rats chosen for the experiments were young and male and the main question raised last month was whether the outcome would be the same had the rats been female.  Sadly, I simply do not know.  As yet, I haven’t had the wherewithal to track down any specific research (of which there is an awful lot with whole journals assigned to the subject) and in truth, I am not a fan of laboratory-based research on mammals.  Rodents they may well be, but rodents form over half of the world’s mammal types, and over 100 million mammals are used in laboratory testing every year.  This fact always leaves me feeling just slightly queasy.

My guess is that the result would be different with female rats.  Exactly what form this difference would take, I do not know, but I do know that this answer exposes me to the risk of being accused of applying stereotypical beliefs to these complex biological and social interactions.  In today’s politically correct climate, it is becoming increasingly difficult to discuss differences between the sexes.  Even from a scientific standpoint with appropriate research data to support the intrinsic differences, this is currently treacherous territory and, in Canadian and American universities at least, such discussion is potentially career ending.

The stated aim of this particular piece of post-modernism is to achieve equality of opportunity for women and thus this appears a laudable objective.  At face value, you would think therefore that understanding and, better still, celebrating the differences between men and women may actually increase the likelihood of successfully facilitating this outcome.  If you can recognise the differences, you can establish which of these are significant and make the necessary allowances and or adjustments to overcome them.  However, on closer inspection, by denying that evidence exists, it is becoming apparent that it is in fact equity (equality of outcome) which is the post-modernist goal.  To understand the difference between equality and equity or, more importantly, the dangers of equity from a coaching perspective, we need to bring the conversation back onto common ground and an example which I regularly introduce into both my coach education and Natural Running Form workshops.

Under the current climate of social culture, certain ultra-running races are under pressure to provide equal numbers of male and female participants on start lines at their events.  So, why is it that currently more men sign up for these events than women?  If you compare men and women in a very general sense, then you will discover much overlap of attributes including many aspects of physiology and other biological characteristics.  This is a very useful thing to understand when preparing training for athletes.  However, it is when you turn your attention to interests that the real differences appear and, it is at the extremes of characteristics and interests, that the significant differences begin to manifest themselves.

Those women who are interested in ultra-running, also happen to be very good at it.  I would guess that if you even suggested that anyone had levelled the playing field for the likes of Ann Trason, Nikki Kimbell or Jenn Shelton to achieve success in their chosen field then this would both genuinely cause offence and devalue their achievements.  These women may be at an extreme end of the ultra-running scale, however I have chosen the extreme for a reason.  In a reflection of life, athletic competition also selects for extremes.  Therefore, although when at the height of their competitiveness, these three could arguably (and often did) win any race they entered, they tended to be lone women amongst a large and equally competitive field of male runners.  Unfortunately, this will remain the case until such time as more women have an interest in running rather than through social manipulation of start numbers.

As with your own athletic successes, had you known you needed to do less to achieve, not only would this devalue the achievement but it would also risk diminishing the goal setting and preparation in the first place.  This reduced challenge, I would argue, would result in none of you taking up the challenge in the first place.  Thankfully, among my athletes, I am blessed with a 60:40 ratio in favour of women, all of whom already display the necessary characteristics and interest in athletic achievement.  To underline this point, congratulations to Helen Sahgal, who is certainly getting back to the top of her game, running an early season 38:55 at Oulton Park last week to win the women’s race; also to Kathryn Hanson whose gutsy performance along with husband Ian, earned her yet another iron distance finisher’s medal at Challenge Wanaka in New Zealand!

Closer to home, spring is hopefully just around the corner, but please take care during this period of extreme weather.  This is no time to take risks and we can always pick up the pace as the weather improves.  Many of you have races coming up ranging from qualification duathlons to both Manchester and London marathons.  I am therefore now fine tuning your tapers but will be doing so over the next few days from the pool side in Lanzarote.  We have such a busy period ahead that we must make some room for a couple of days off now.  I will of course have the tools of my trade with me, but there may be a slight delay in responses to questions and feedback.

Enjoy the snow!

JC

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Coaching News January

Coaching News – January 2018

My Facebook feed has been momentarily lit up by a podcast of an interview with a retired coach of elite athletes in the still small community of triathlon.  The principal topic, according to the title, is developing running speed but, as yet, I haven’t found the time to listen to what this coach has to say.  It’s not that I don’t think that I can learn from his experience – although I note that despite his success, athletes in his charge have succumbed to more than their fair share of injuries – but I am disappointed that he waited until retirement before allowing others to share in his coaching methodology.

In the relatively new and very competitive world that is triathlon coaching you may feel that this is a reasonable stance to take; keeping your cards close to your chest and playing your coaching hand only when you need to.  However, I don’t think that there is a coach in this country who hasn’t at some stage in their coach education been told the story of John Wooden.

For those who are not aware, John Wooden was simply the most successful basketball coach in the USA in the latter part of the 1960s and early 1970s, winning 10 out of his final 12 national championships.  At the height of his fame and success, he accepted a written request from an undergraduate coaching student to observe his coaching – a form of early work-based learning programme for coaches.  If not scientifically evidenced, it is certainly a scientifically inspired fact that coaches learn from observing other coaches.  However, the sporting world was aghast that John Wooden was happy to share his secrets with an unqualified and unknown coach, thereby arming the newcomer with the necessary skills and information to imitate Wooden and thus attain or even surpass his level of success.  Wooden’s response however, was that no one could imitate what he did.  The student operated at a different level of competence, would extract what he needed from the experience and, over time, create his own coaching methodology.

This exemplar of coaching philanthropy forms the introductory lesson to just about every coach education course I have attended and certainly nearly every one I have ever delivered!  However, it is very apparent that, the closer you get to the top of triathlon coaching, the reality proves to be the complete opposite.  A prime example being the retired elite coach on my Facebook feed, who only shared his theory once the potential risk of conflict of interests was removed.  It was the same during my time at Loughborough, where the coaches were extremely unwilling to share their expertise.  Not once did I have the opportunity to learn through observation let alone be allowed to lead a session – a thoroughly unsatisfactory experience.  The coaches had withdrawn into isolation at their fixed position in the coaching dominance hierarchy and, demotivated, I eventually stopped asking to join in.  However, as critical of others as I have been, it is whilst reflecting on this conundrum, that I have recognised aspects of my own hypocrisy on this matter.

This week, a fellow triathlon coach, perhaps like me with aspirations of rising toward the top of triathlon coaching, has posted a couple of running form development videos on a public forum.  There are, to my mind, several omissions and errors in these videos that, if rectified, would enhance the merits of the drills prescribed.  This is a great opportunity for me to help both the athletes observing the videos as well as the coach by enabling him to learn from the feedback provided.  However, the reason for my reticence to enter into this forum debate should be obvious.  By providing feedback, I could lose out twice – first in the loss of potential athletes to develop and second in equipping a fellow coach with the necessary skills to potentially resolve the puzzle that is running form.

Again, this may seem quite a reasonable stance for a coach in my position to take.  However, perhaps the question I should be asking myself is why I am not assisting this coach in his development and could I too in some way benefit from doing so?   To answer that, I think we have to look at coaching in a broader context and how we have evolved to work in hierarchies of competence.

If you take the time to look carefully at the neuroscience, and I am indebted to Jordan Peterson who has done just that, you will discover that there is a continuity in our nature that is tremendously deep and is common amongst other animals.  Drawing from the work of Jaak Panskepp (who, incidentally, hailed from Tartu*) and Jean Piaget, Peterson noted not only that we share with mammals a neurological circuit which does nothing but implement play, but that our cognition, emotion, motivation and ultimately our morality forms out of those games that we play.

Panskepp discovered that if you put two juvenile rats together they will spontaneously wrestle, resulting as you would expect, in one pinning the other down, and the play ends with a dominance hierarchy established.  In real life, games occur repeatedly and Panskepp therefore paired the same rats again and again.  Once the hierarchy was established, for the interaction to continue, the lesser rat had to keep asking the dominant rat to play.  If the dominant rat continued to win, the lesser rat would lose motivation and ultimately stop asking.  However, if the dominant rat allowed the lesser rat to win 30% of the encounters, the lesser rat would remain motivated and continue to want to play.

In this, Panskepp had identified morality as an emergent property in rats through a sequence of games, just as Piaget had observed morality emerging in the games children play.  When we stress to children that it doesn’t matter whether you win or lose – what matters is how you play the game – what we are really saying is that life is a game and that it is how you play that really counts.  Peterson’s view is that this is a rule of life that isn’t arbitrary or based on opinion, is not sociological or learned, it is an emergent property that is so deep it even governs the behaviour of rats.

Peterson stresses therefore that the outcome of a single encounter does not affect the dominance hierarchy, but it is the continual outcome of a sequence of interactions that is important.  What this means is that life isn’t a single game, but a series of games and to be the winner of the series of games, you must, like the dominant rat, play fair.  As coaches, is this not what we strive for in the cognitive, emotional and motivational development of our athletes?  Therefore, shouldn’t we also be seeking this in the development of our own coaching by playing by those rules and supporting, like John Wooden, the motivation and participation of others?

Perhaps in our quest for triathlon coaching dominance we have lost sight of how to play the game fairly.  Whilst at present I am probably unable to influence those above me in the coaching hierarchy, I can at least offer all other coaches a chance to play where, in the discipline of running at least, I am a dominant player.  So, first thing tomorrow, I will enter into debate with my fellow coach and allow him a share in the game – for 30% of the time anyway.  Perhaps, in time, other dominant coaches will also come around and remember how to play the coaching game fairly.

So, January has been and gone, and February looks like it will also be a busy month.  Hopefully, therefore, before we know it, spring will appear and we can all come out of hibernation once more.  There is much on the horizon, of course; *Tartu entry acceptance ends on Monday and we can then turn our attention to the logistics of racing in Estonia.  The European Championships in Glasgow follows and somewhere between, there will be UK Ironman at Bolton, qualifiers for next year, training camps, TTs, marathons, adventure racing, athlete testing, video analysis, nutrition analysis, coach education and development and, of course, the World Long Distance Duathlon Championships in Zofingen.

It’s going to be a busy year and we are looking forward to working with you all in playing the game fairly.

JC

 

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Coaching News December

Sitting here pondering what to write, I am having one of those déjà vu moments, as, exactly a year on, Team Sky has handed me more ammunition for my one man, anti-doping campaign!  However, it wasn’t my intention to discuss jiffy bags and asthma inhalers this month; it has become as tiring for me to write as it must be for this audience to read.  Instead, I would rather reflect on what a successful year we have all had together in 2017 and to highlight some of the exciting things that are in store for 2018.

Sadly, since we started this coaching company, we have not kept a tally of all the National Champions that we have had the great pleasure to work with.  Going back through the athlete records to establish this number is a task for a rainy afternoon (after all the other tasks have been completed, that is).  Suffice to say that we have been extremely fortunate to have coached several over the years, and 2017 saw us add another title to that, as yet, unwritten list.  The same athlete, Vikki Voysey, also added a Bronze medal in her category at the World Sprint Triathlon Championships in Rotterdam, taking our international tally to 28 medals.  Chapeau Vikki!

This is certainly a figure to be extremely proud of, however, we take just as much pride in the fact that this year we helped several people compete in their first marathons and triathlons, we guided others to achieve PBs and others still to international qualification and international racing and helped coach the new LB Tri Junior Academy!  Additionally, some of us (in fact, hopefully all of us) just simply had a little fun irrespective of the distance or the performance.  This, we are proud to say, has been a reasonably consistent theme for a number of years and, we hope, will be the case for many more years to come!   

What is perhaps more remarkable than you all providing us with these satisfactory outcomes, is that much of the scheming to support your success over the years has taken place from a small home office in whichever home we had been fortunate enough to be living in at the time.   The establishment of our new clinic in Weedon Bec is therefore a significant step forward for supporting our athletes in 2018.   Whilst we don’t necessarily expect to be able to achieve greater success than we have in the past (more of the same would suffice!), we at least now have a long-term platform from which to support all our athletes.  We also now have the opportunity to test more athletes, more regularly, without having to pack up afterwards, thus making the testing quicker to set up and easier to administer.

Therefore, next year should see more opportunities for bike lactate testing and analysis, more running form analysis, more swim video analysis, and even greater opportunities for holding group training sessions both at home and abroad.  Our developing relationship with Britta Sorensen has created more opportunity for training camps in 2018 at the Coaches House in the Midi-pyrenees and the terrain around Weedon Bec is perfect for hosting hilly brick sessions which are ideal preparation for Bolton IM and short and long distance duathlon.  Please keep an eye on the web site and Facebook page for further details.  Please also watch out for our planned trips to Bolton to recce the bike course and more open water swimming opportunities and (hopefully) regular coached swims at local pools.

This will also be a busy year for team management for the BTF, covering for the Standard Distance Triathlon team in Estonia as well as leading my own teams; the ETU Sprint Triathlon team in Glasgow and the ITU Long Distance Duathlon team in Zofingen.   I am delighted that some of you have already qualified for these events but I hope to see more of you there if possible!  The big news for Glasgow is that this will be the first AG triathlon event at which there will be an anti doping team conducting random testing on athletes.  

All team GB athletes competing at this event will be required to attend a webinar on anti doping prior to taking up their team GB slot.  This is a fantastic step for age-group triathlon above other sports and I am delighted that our sport has chosen to take this direction.   I hope that the AG athletes both understand the seriousness of the situation and realise that, for the future of clean sport, they can take the lead on making sport a fairer place to be.  

I realise that anti-doping may feature in too many of my ramblings, however, perhaps cycling could learn a thing or two from AG triathlon.  As too could athletics judging by other news featuring in the sports headlines this week.  At least it was a good week for my favourite running model, Sir Mo Farah, in winning the Sports Personality of the Year.  It has also been good for us all in that he has finally left his former coach, Alberto Salazar.  I wonder if he left his inhaler behind?

Back to Applied Tri, with so much success in 2017 and so much planned for 2018, we have taken a short break to recharge the batteries and are now back and raring to go!

Wishing you all very best wishes for 2018.

JC

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