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Team Nagi Coaching Newsletter – May 2019

Hi Guys,

May has been an awesome month for the Team for two reasons, firstly race season has exploded into life with some terrific early season performances and secondly we’ve just got back from phenomenal team training at Club La Santa, Lanzarote. I want to take this opportunity to thank the athletes that came out and performed so well on the camp.

There is no greater learning experience for me as a coach when I can watch my athletes perform day in and day out and this camp was no exception. What I love about Lanzarote is that it’s a training venue that will test you like no other, it’s both wild, rugged and beautiful at the same time and each time I go back there I fall in love with it’s moon like landscape that little bit more. The cycling is tough, probably the toughest I’ve ever experienced on any training camp this year with winds reaching 30-45km/hr daily. But that’s why you go there, because if you can survive a week of those winds and hills it will harden you like never before.

What made this camp so special was the people on it, such a diverse mix of abilities, ages and personalities all with a common goal of becoming the best athletes they can be. There was much fun and laughter along the way combine with a few strops! (No names mentioned). But thankfully everyone came out the other side believing that they are capable of so much more. The camp stats were impressive with many swimming 25km, biking 470 km and running 50km over a 7 day period. It might sound a lot (and it is!) but when you factor in training at the right intensity (lots of low intensity work, especially with running), incorporate key recovery sessions throughout the day, focus on eating, sleeping and resting in between every session it’s amazing what the body can absorb. Also then factor in that you’ve eliminated the number one physical and mental stressor for all triathletes – a 40-70 hour work week then you can see how this is much more achievable.

Most importantly for me as a coach it’s being able to help them develop their skill sets for training and racing on a session-by-session basis because I have my eyes constantly on them. It’s the simple little tips that seem to help so much, you then repeat these day after day and by the end of the week you have a group of athletes that can intuitively cope with any scenario that is thrown at them. The scenarios come thick and fast each day because it’s important to be able to teach them to respond and react in the right way. A great camp definitely isn’t just about swimming, biking and running it has to be about so much more if you want athletes to evolve to the next level. These are the key skill sets that will turn them into racing machines that will fear nothing out there on race day.

I came away for this camp both motivated, rejuvenated and extremely excited about what’s ahead for the team this year so big thank you guys and girls for coming. Looking forward to next year already.

NB: I also wanted to give a special mention to ‘The Tramster’ (Connie Tram) who inadvertently became our camp photographer this year. She took the images I’ve included in this newsletter and on Instagram stories. Connie really did bring the camp to life in full technicolour for everyone and we all appreciated it massively. To capture these memories for everyone was priceless so a big thank you.   

Team Race News

Bussleton 70.3

  • Emily Loughnan 
  • Splits: 31:29 swim / 2:29:41 bike/ 1:26:06 run
  • Total Time: 4:30:48
  • 3rd Female pro overall

After a 12 month period any athlete would rather forget this performance was simply outstanding. To finish on her first pro podium when you’ve had everything and the kitchen sink thrown at you just shows the character of this girl. It’s a performance I know she wont take any comfort in because sets her standards high, especially at her home town race. But it’s a performance I’m extremely proud of because as her coach I know what she has gone through to get there. These aren’t excuses just a truthful reality that sometimes the chips aren’t stacked in your favour and you just have to wait and be patient until the tide starts to turn. Hang in there mate.

Grafman triathlon (Team GB qualifier)

  • Helen Burton
  • Splits: 26:24 swim / 1:33:22 bike/ 1:03:05 run
  • Total time: 3:13:41
  • 2nd in 65-69 category (Qualified for World Champs)

Huge congrats to our training camp star H for qualifying yet again for Team GB to race at the triathlon World Champs next year!

Swashbuckler Middle Distance

  • Rod Hamilton
  • Splits:  33:12 swim / 2:47:71 bike  / 1:53:02 run
  • Total time: 5:14:06
  • 4th place in 50-54 category

So close to a podium finish for Rod but a cracking start to his race season nonetheless. After producing some superb biking on our recent training camp this guy will be more than ready for Ironman France in just a few weeks time. Go Rod!

Marlow Middle Distance triathlon

  • Jim Butler
  • Splits: 33:10 swim / 2:35:40 bike/ 1:37:07 run
  • Total..
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Slow down, to speed up

I want to tell you a story about a foolish young athlete I once knew.

This guy came into the sport about 20 years ago with a very limited endurance background. In his first year he actually did pretty well, this included running a 35min 10k off the bike in only his 2nd attempt at Olympic distance. This was pretty good for someone who considered anything over 200m more like cross country in school. He could also swim a bit but biking was very new to him. There was definite potential for this athlete but over the next 4 years his training and performances went backwards. This was mainly due to a succession of injuries and frequent illness.

It was a time of huge frustration for him because this athlete was prepared to work hard, really hard and showed a tremendous level of commitment to improving at this sport he had fallen in love with, he was an all in kinda guy. What he couldn’t work out for so long was why after such a successful first year did things take a turn for the worse?

The main problem with this athlete was he wasn’t really listening to the advice being given, he thought he knew different. He also thought by working much harder (than was prescribed) he could actually make the faster gains he was searching for. This athlete was pretty ego driven and ultra competitive but lacked the maturity, foresight and common sense to listen to the great advice he was being given. It was a recipe for disaster and the next few years proved it.

You might have guessed by now, that athlete was me.

In hindsight it’s great to be able to look back with a wealth of experience and be able to clearly see where I went wrong. Pretty much everything my old coach told me was right on the money. I will never forget those 5 years because they helped form the strong foundations of who I became as a Coach. I made every made mistake possible and then repeated them time and time again before finally coming to my senses. I remember that moment as if it was yesterday because I said to myself “you need to change and do things differently because clearly what you are doing isn’t working, a big change is needed”.

What was needed was a complete mindset shift in the way I was thinking.

It wasn’t until many years later that the legendary coach Brett Sutton once said to me:

“Julian, you’ll be able to put your athletes into 3 categories as you move forwards as a coach”…

  1. The ones that listen and do well
  2. The ones that think they listen but don’t
  3. And the idiots who will just waste your time & theirs

The last one tickled me but I like to think that I was definitely more of a number 2 than a number 3 but maybe you need to ask my old Coach!

It took me 5 years to reach number 1. That doesn’t need to be the case for you.

The reason for me writing this today is to highlight the main reason where I went wrong. There were a few factors but by far and away the number one reason that inhibited my progress was doing my easier endurance type work way too fast. I also completely ignored the fact that I was tired and still went too fast for my easier work. I would say looking back I was overestimating this pace by as much as 15-20%, especially in relation to running. I was constantly training in that grey area where I thought faster was better, sound familiar ? It should because a high percentage of you out there are making the same mistake everyday.

The main reason for this is athletes make the mistaken presumption that – surely it can’t be affective if it feels that easy? This is almost as misplaced as the no pain, no gain theory. Whilst some training should be hard a great percentage needs to feel very easy. I would say roughly in the 80% easy/20% harder range.

What athletes fail to grasp is that the metabolic changes and improvements you make when training at these lower paces are huge. You might not get that ‘exercise high’ when you train at these paces but they certainly will form the form strong foundation that all of your overall endurance fitness sits upon. If this is weak and underdeveloped, everything that sits above it is also weak. The better your body is at converting body fat and oxygen to usable energy the better your performance will be, that’s what the easier work does. It also helps aid recovery between harder sessions so you get a double bonus if done correctly.

“One of the greatest difficulties I have had in persuading coaches and athletes to accept my system is that the majority have been chained to the principles of interval training, which emphasise anaerobic interval training or repetition work as the MOST important phase of a training programme. As far as I am concerned, it is the LEAST important.” (from “Running with Lydiard: Greatest Running Coach of All Time” by Arthur Lydiard, Garth Gilmour)

It isn’t rocket science but most triathletes seem to think this doesn’t apply to them and they are different. They think assume that faster is better as it will make more use of their limited training time. Worse still many don’t even seem to know they are making this mistake. Then when you tell them they are making this mistake they still go out and do the same thing over and over again.

It’s at that point you become ‘athlete Number 3’ and all hope is lost.

If anything training needs balance, especially when you consider most age group athletes are training in 3 disciplines, they also work a 40-70 hour a week. If you consider that most pro triathletes don’t work a 40-70 hour week still follow the 80/20 rule, you’ll see why it’s even more important for age group athletes to do it. Once this gets out of sync your body just can’t absorb that level of training combined with life and work on top of it. But what you will do is put yourself more at risk of developing deep fatigue, injuries and illness. It’s my belief that this is the number one reason for underperformance in both training and racing.

Swimming and running seem to be the sports most affected by this, although I have seen this with biking too. It never ceases to amaze me that a lot of triathletes don’t quite grasp the concept of how your technique for both swimming and running is different when you go slower and when you go faster, mistakenly presuming it should be the same. When you swim at the correct easy pace your stroke will be longer with more glide/extension to it and the opposite will be true when you start to speed up, the mechanics and timing have to change to allow for this. The same with running, when you go slower it will be more shuffle like with a lower cadence and when you speed up it will flow with more rhythm and with a higher cadence. The problem I see is triathletes seem want to seem to spend all their time fixed in this ‘sweet spot’ where it feels good and rhythmical where their cadence or stroke rate is actually the same (because surely it can’t feel right to feel that slow). There has to be a clear distinction between pace and technique to allow you to speed up and slow down, it should never feel the same. 

The reason this feels so alien to many athletes is because they are going a little bit fast most of the time and they haven’t allowed their body to get used to it. If I had a penny for every time and athlete has told me it doesn’t feel right I’d be a very wealthy man, even when this backed up by clear data that is showing that they are going too fast. The number of athletes I see training at or above race pace when they think they are going easy is astounding and slightly worrying.

Also for any of you Ironman athletes out there if you think the run is anything more than a slow shuffle at the end of the race you are very much mistaken. So get used to this slow style now because you will be much more efficient with it on race day.

Let’s look at some very interesting statistics in relation to some of the world’s best runners that might shock you:

Alex Yee (British Junior elite triathlete/ National 10K record holder)

  • Stand alone 10k PB (27mins 51 secs / 2:47/km)
  • Easy pace runs (4:20 – 4:50/km or 43:20 – 48:20 10k pace)

Joel Filliol’s elite training squad 

  • Containing ITU World Champion Mario Mola & Katie Zafares 
  • Mario can run 29mins off the bike for 10k (2:54/km), Katie can run 33mins off the bike for 10k (3:18/km)
  • Easy pace runs for squad members (4:30/km – 5min/km or 45-50min 10k pace)  

Jocelyn McCauley (Pro Ironman athlete & multiple Ironman winner)

  • Ironman marathon run PB: 2hours 58mins (4:13/km)
  • Easy pace runs (5:35/km or 55min 10k pace)

Eluid Kipchoge (Marathon World Record holder)

  • Marathon run PB: 2hrs 1min 39 secs (2:52/km)
  • Easy pace runs (some of it as starting as low as 5:45-6min/km or 55min 10k pace building to no more than 4:13/km pace or 42min 10k pace)

All of this data above is widely published online for anyone to read. The last one is perhaps the most interesting because here you have one of the fastest runners in the world who runs some of his slower pace work the slowest. Even I had to get this confirmed by our Pro Triathlete Emily Loughnan who has spent time in Kenya running with Kipchoge and many of the fastest marathon runners in the world. Here’s her take:

“Each day I would join some of the world’s fastest marathon runners for their early morning run. The pace resembled more of a shuffle as the groups ran bunched tightly on each other’s heels, with the same focussed expression on their faces. It was always an hour of silence as if the task at hand required a deep concentration to keep the pace slow and really focus on form and feel”. 

The next mistaken presumption I hear is that surely the reason these athletes run more slowly is because of such huge training volumes combined with more high intensity work? That might be true to a certain extent, but consider as age groupers you have to add a 40-70 hour of work to your weekly training schedule that these guys don’t have. It might not be direct training but it’s your number 1 fatigue and stress builder, this all inhibits recovery.

Statistics will also show that upwards of 80%+ of triathletes are injured in relation to running. Is it any surprise when you consider most of the time they are training too hard too often on bodies that are usually not strong enough to cope with the load placed on them. This is mainly due to poor biomechanics and a lack of strength in the key supporting muscles and joints. It’s also being caused by the fact that most of you sit down at a desk all day wreaking havoc on your posture.

Also consider the fact that many athletes choose to place little value on doing strength & conditioning, then when you do you follow a plan that is completely unspecific to what your body needs. Your plan needs to be tailor made to you because everyone has different strengths and weaknesses, so that cookie-cutter program you are looking for on the internet just wont come any close to what your body will need.

Then combine this with the fact that many of you don’t get anywhere near enough sleep hours or recovery time in between training sessions to properly absorb the work you are putting in we start to see a completely different picture starting to appear. That picture shows us that it’s just as important for you to do easy work easy as it is for some of the worlds best athletes.

Interestingly out of all of the athletes above it is Jocelyn that has by far and away the lowest running volume. She kindly provided me with the information on her run training below:

  • Total run volume: 5-6 hours per week, max 7 in biggest weeks. 
  • Average run pace: 4:58 – 5:35/km (49-56min 10K pace)
  • Consisting of: 1 x long easy run, 1 x speed session, 1 x longer reps, hills or 1km efforts & easy runs

This is much less than half of the 120 miles Kipchoge would do on a weekly basis.

The next question should be how do I work out what my easy pace and long run pace should be? This is actually very simple if you can work out what your current stand alone 10k PB is. If you don’t know just use previous race results to get an estimation of where is might be. Work out the pace per km for the 10K time then add 1min 30secs – 1min 50 secs per km to this, you then have a good sensible range for where your easy endurance type work is. It’s also crucial that your long run be at the easiest pace. See example below:

  • 45min 10k PB
  • Pace per km = 4.38
  • Add 1.3 – 1.5 = 6.08-6.28/km (Easy pace running)

If you get this right, it will:

  • Improved your aerobic efficiency
  • It will decrease the risk of injury
  • It will help enable a stronger immune system
  • It will help improve recovery in between sessions
  • It will reduce leg soreness and muscle fatigue
  • It will allow you go harder, deeper and stronger in the key sessions that matter
  • Contribute to making you a faster athlete (yes believe it!)

It’s only a win win situation.

So the message is clear if you are an athlete that has experienced huge frustration with your running and a real lack of progress, start taking a closer look at your easy run speed when out there training. You might be able to find something in it that will help you. There are of course can be many other factors that you might need to bring into the equation but for me this is the best starting point to build a sensible sustainable progressive run plan around.

The post Slow down to speed up appeared first on Team Nagi Coaching.

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Team Nagi Coaching Newsletter – April 2019

 Hi Guys,

It’s that time of year when we start to nail down the details to prepare you for racing. Hopefully you will be coming off the back of a good quality off season and now you’re ready to reap the rewards from all of the hard work you’ve put in over the Winter months.

To build on this it’s important your plan now starts to evolve to the next phase, it’s an incredibly exciting time because it really does mark the turning point from just training to racing. This requires a whole new approach in thinking, preparation and planning. It also requires the development and refinement of certain skill sets that will help you race more affectively. Think of it as the time to refine your ‘race craft’. It’s an investment that will ultimately play huge dividends, don’t fall into the trap of just focussing on the training because it’s frequently the basic race skill sets that let people down.

There are 5 key areas that need consideration and evolution as you move forwards:

1: Equipment / clothing choices 

The golden rule here is if you plan on using it, test it.  Don’t wait to race day to try something it because it will invariably comeback to bite you. Considerations such as choices of race kit, wetsuits, runs shoes, run laces, bikes shoes, helmets, wheel choices, goggles all need to be tested and ticked off, racing then becomes more seamless with less worries. It’s often the smaller elements that can have the greatest impact on race day so don’t underestimate the above.

Further reading:
Dusting off the wetsuit

2: Technical skills development 

There are a whole host of technical skills that need refinement for triathlon from taking a wetsuit off quickly to mounting and dismounting your bike. A lot of these relate directly to what you do in T1 or T2 so transition simulation is incredibly important. If you are weak in this area then practice it in training.

You should also be incorporating sighting sets into your pool swimming to ease the transition into open water. Don’t just leave it for your open water swims sessions! If you want to get good at it and for it to feel more natural then it should be frequently practised in the pool. You can also practice using your wetsuit in a swimming pool, just take it off when it becomes too warm. Even a small amount of time will be useful.

Other key elements to practice will include puncture repair, open water swimming and refining your bike handling skills to suit the course you are racing on, especially if you are transitioning from a road bike to a TT bike position.

3: Race nutrition 

Again if you plan on using it then test it! This really can make or break your race at any distance from Olympic to Iron-distance. You will need a plan for fuelling & hydration. This will vary depending on the distance you are preparing for so its important to know what your body needs and what products work for you.

You should also consider how you are going to carry this nutrition and consider the best way to consume it. What drink system will you use?  How will you carry your gels, bars etc?

The sensible approach is to test it during your key race like sessions from week to week. You can learn from it then adapt it week to week based on what you experience. There are no golden rules, but there will be requirements, so find what works best for you.

4: Mental preparation 

Visualisation is one of the most underrated forces for success. If you can see it, it will be easier to execute it. The more you run through it in your mind the more it becomes autonomous on race day. Think of how your perfect race feels to you as you move through each element of the swim, bike, run and transitions in between. Make a list of positive affirmation statements or powerful words that will help keep your mind focussed on the task at hand. This will help you stay in the moment and help you battle back against any negative thinking.

As much as we want to plan for the positive you should also have a plan for when things go wrong. There is a chance your goggles could get knocked off in the swim, you could take a kick to the face, you might struggle to breath in the swim start, you could puncture at any time – the question you need to ask yourself is how will you react if this happens to you? There’s a right way (calm & controlled) and a wrong (throw the toys out of the pram & panic). If you have a plan already in place it easier for you brain to switch into the ‘do things sensibly mode’ so you can deal with whatever has happened much more efficiently and affectively.

Never forget, it’s your mind that controls your body.

Further reading:
Finding your psychological anchors

5: Plan for what’s ahead

As much as we want to plan focus success in races thought should also be given to how you want things to run in the days leading into your race. Ask yourself what the ideal race build up looks like to help keep you calm and relaxed?  What are the stresses you want to avoid ? By thinking ahead and implementing a plan you can avoid the last minute panic that often has such a big impact on race performance.

None of the above is rocket science, but it never ceases to amaze the number of athletes that leave all this to the last minute. They then end up having big issues on race day or during the build up. All of the above require the least amount of effort and time input to see significant improvements. So be sure to make time for all of the above because they can dramatically increase your chances of race day success.

Further reading:
If you can’t imagine it, you can’t execute it

Team Race News

Ironman South Africa

Two of our athletes raced in April, both Vicki Hill & Tash Jackson (aka Team Pocket Rocket) headed out to Port Elizabeth for Ironman South Africa. They both managed to put in 2 excellent performances against an incredibly tough field. The new bike course proved to be brutal with 1600m climbing combined with coastal gale force winds, the swim was also cut short due to conditions. Great for surfing but maybe not for swimming 3.8km. Thankfully both ladies survived and went onto conquer the rest of the race.

Special mention & huge congratulations to Vicki Hill who put in an outstanding performance to take the 45-49 age group win, booking her slot at the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii. Just rewards for her outstanding level of commitment she shows day in and day out. Let “Project Top 5” begin!

  • Vicki Hill 
  • Total time: 10:09:41
  • Splits: 38:40 swim / 5:55:41 bike / 3:26:12 
  • 1st in 45-49 category

  • Tash Jackson  
  • Total Time: 10:22:40
  • Splits: 37:00 swim / 5:54:38 bike / 3:42:09 
  • 8th in 30-34 category

Maybe not the perfomance Tash was hoping for considering some of the outstanding training she has put in this year. Rest assured this girl will be back with vengeance at Ironman Austria.

Book Recommendation

Deena Kastor – Let your mind run: A memoir of thinking my way to victory 

I read this book a few months and thoroughly enjoyed it. For those that don’t know Deena she is one of America’s greatest distance runners who was coached by one of the Worlds greatest run coaches – Joe Vigil. What I love about the book is the journey she went on from being a hugely talented junior to becoming America’s first female runner to win a medal in the marathon at the Olympic games. More importantly it’s what happened in this period in between this that will be so insightful for athletes everywhere. Essentially it was the massive failures she had that ultimately lead to her success after being on the verge of quitting several times.

A huge mindset shift was needed, she had to change the way she thought to get the best out of herself because it was her mind that was destroying her. When she took this leap of faith and started to think in a much more positive way about herself this ultimately transformed her running career and helped make her faster than she ever thought possible.

Team Nagi Athlete Interview – Rod Hamilton

Name: Rod Hamilton

Age: 52

Star sign:

Apparantly very very Virgo or so I am told.

Years in triathlon:

9.75 years (see above)


Oil Trader

In another life you would have been a..?

Professional Footballer

Who is your athletic alter ego?

I was recently likened to Marco Pantani (maybe more Pantstani!)

Favourite training session: 

Hard running intervals (don’t tell Julian!)

Least favourite training session: 

60 min run easy

Favourite training track (music!):  

Sandstorm  (Darude)

Favourite book: 

Winning Ugly by Brad Gilbert

Favourite training venue/location:  

Hawaii but I will settle for Lanzarote!

Favourite race experience: 

Taking part in the Arch2Arc Team Relay (Run Marble Arch to Dover, Swim the English Channel, Bike to Arc de Triomphe in Paris) with a group from Shell and breaking the world record!

Favourite mantra: 

Apart from a lot of profanity usually aimed at myself! Stay in the moment/You can do this/You’ve got this/Just dig deep (I talk to myself a lot)

If you could choose 3 famous people to come to dinner with you who would they be & why? 

1) Nelson Mandela (to find out how to be such a class act)
2) Ernest Shackleton (one of the greatest adventurers)
3) Jesus (great story teller and can always lay his hands on good wine)

Training hours per week:  

Currently 14-15

What are your training & race goals for 2019? 

Unfinished business with Ironman France Nice. This time hopefully I won’t end up going over the edge on the switchback descent…hopefully!

Team Nagi out & about

Hardly recognised her outside of her lycra! Singapore based Vicki & Andy toast her race success with a much deserved pina colada

Tash (the Engineer) looking weirdly at home covered in dirt & grease!

Our Bev (aka Super Gran) at mile 20 of the brutally tough Big Sur marathon in California. With only 6 miles to go I’m very pleased to tell you she made it

As we all basked in glorious sunshine during the bank holiday weekend Steve was busy fighting gale force winds and freezing cold weather in Alcudia, Mallorca! Brrrrr

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Hi Guys,

It’s getting to that time of year where race season is fast approaching!

If that doesn’t set the butterflies off in your stomach then I don’t know what will. This time should be a time of great anticipation and excitement as we head towards your first races of the season. Hopefully the great work I know you’ve put in all winter will start to bear fruit and this year will be your most successful ever. Just remember a season is all about evolving and improving from race to race so use these early season races wisely and be sure to learn from each and every experience.

I’ve already seen some terrific early season performances which I’ve highlighted below. These performances weren’t just built off the back of a lot of hard work, they were also built on the back of far more sensible/smart work than ever before. The smart work consists of targeting marginal gain work, the accumulation of which can often be a game changer. The area I’ve challenged all of my athletes to work on this past winter is to focus on taking a more holistic approach to their training. Rarely do I ever have to ask athletes to work harder in the swim, bike and run, most have the motivation in abundance to do this. The question I ask them is can they match that motivation to work hard and direct that same level of commitment to areas such as:

  • Increasing sleep hours & finding quality recovery time 

  • Being consistent with focussed sports specific strength, conditioning & mobility work 

  • Listening to their bodies & making sensible training choices  

  • Improved nutrition both for health & fuelling  

  • Finding the time to add in complimentary work such as Pilates, yoga, sports massage  

  • Working on their mental game as part of an on-going process

I would say for those that commit to the above over the longest possible period will always make the fastest gains. If you want to find the magic bullet then that’s it because rarely does just training harder and harder provide that same level of improvement, in fact it can have the opposite affect. That’s why being smart with your training is so important because combining all of the above is just as important as the swim, bike and run training. If you can shift your mind-set and embrace these key elements you will notice those improvements coming thick and fast.

So look forward to this new race season with great excitement and wonder, the races will now be coming thick and fast and I will be sure to keep you updated. The work I’ve seen the team put in this Winter has been the best I’ve ever so take great confidence into these early season races. There’s a very exciting season ahead.

First up will be two of our ladies at Ironman South Africa this weekend, we all wish you the very best of luck Tash Jackson & Vicki Hill, you’ve done the handwork now it’s time to cash in those cheques.

Team Race News

@Focused Ninja Photography

It’s been a great month for our guys and girls out there racing. First up was our Aussie pro athlete Emily Loughnan at the Karri Valley triathlon. It’s been an incredibly tough few months for Loughers as she pretty much has everything and the kitchen sink thrown at her so far this year with injury and illness. This was topped off with her heading out to Taupo  for Ironman New Zealand only to have to pull out last minute due to a kidney infection.  Sport can be both cruel and kind in equal measure and this race just wasn’t meant to be. But in true Loughers style she bounced back to take the overall female win with a fantastic performance at the Karri Valley triathlon. Nice mate, I know the transformation has begun.

Karri Valley Triathlon (1.5km swim / 60km bike / 12km run)

  • Emily Loughnan
  • 2:59:02 (23:26 swim / 1:45:07 bike / run 48:00)
  • 1st female overall
  • Next up – Busso 70.3

JJ, our man ‘up North’ opened his racing account for the year at the Clumber standard distance duathlon with a double run PB. Holistic has become JJ’s middle name this year and I’ve every confidence that the changes he’s made this year will only allow him to go from strength to strength as the season progresses.

Clumber Standard Duathlon (10km run / 60km bike / 5km run)

  • Jerome Jones
  • 2:23:02 (43:49 run / 1:16:05 bike / run 20:52)
  • Next up Staffs 70.3 

It was also great to see our pocket rocket Louise taking yet another podium finish at the Durrell Duathlon in Jersey.  Nice work Lou.

Durrell Duathlon (Jersey)

  • Louise Bracken-Smith (5km run / 20km bike / 2.5km run )
  • 1:18:16 (23:58 run / 42:08 bike / run 12:10)
  • 3rd in 45-49 cat
  • Next up Aix En Provence 70.3

Book Recommendation

Can’t hurt me: Master your mind and defy the odds by David Goggins 

What can I say about this book? Apart from it quite literally blew me away.

Many of you will have heard about David Gogginsand some of his incredible endurance achievements. His journey through life has been like no other. His early life certainly doesn’t make for easy reading, he had very little hope, came from extreme poverty and was mentally and physically abused by his father. His life was going nowhere fast but somehow he managed to transform himself through hard work, discipline and failure to become a Navy Seal and then one of the worlds top endurance athletes.

His evolution both as person and as an athlete is a lesson to anyone that you can transform yourself if you are willing to keep pushing through both fear and failure. In doing so he managed to reach a level of mental and physical toughness that most people will never be able to achieve or even want to! But what the book can show you is how you can apply some of the life lessons he learned to yourselves so you can become a mentally & physically stronger you.

Team Nagi Athlete Interview – Connie Tram

Name: Connie Tram

Age: 35

Star sign: Sagittarius

Years in triathlon:  3

Occupation:  Commodities data & research sales

In another life you would have been…..?  

A chunky dog–I’m pretty basic with respect to my needs in life (eat, sleep, walkies/exercise, cuddles, toilet etc). And I can always be bribed with food

Who is your athletic alter ego? 

I don’t really have an alter ego…although sometimes I channel Lionel Sanders or Paula Radcliffe

Favourite training session: 

I don’t really have a favourite but I do love a good S&C session because it gives me my “me time “to unwind from a stressful day/week

Least favourite training session:  

Those 2 x 20 mins, 3 x 15 mins threshold bike sessions. Ouch. Serious WTF stuff. My mind, body and soul die a little bit each time

Favourite training track (music!):  

I am loving #thatPower by Will.i.amft Justin Bieber–it’s a track that makes you feel powerful when you hear it and you can’t help but feel grateful for being healthy and alive to be able to do the things that you love. Also, training isn’t complete without“Children”by Robert Miles–it’s a classic

Favourite book: 

“Can’t hurt me”by David Goggins–it’s an incredibly powerful and inspiring book. It brings out the warrior spirit in me. Think he’s my prophet now (“What Would Goggins Do?”lol)

Favourite training venue/location: 

Club la Santa and the Olympic pool at Stratford (without the head up breaststrokers)

Favourite race experience: 

Racing Banana Man tri at Dorney Lake in a full banana suit. It was one of the hottest days in the UK and I was fried. There was no negative banana splits and I was totally (banana) frittered in the end. But it was so enjoyable because I’d never laughed so hard at my own misery yet at the same time had so much encouragement and so many high fives from strangers. Definitely an amazing experience

Favourite mantra:

“Live the life of most resistance!”and“pain is my friend today”

If you could choose 3 famous people to come to dinner with you who would they be & why?  

Oscar Wilde – his novels are witty, scathing and hilarious – I can imagine what he’s like in person: feisty. It’d be a hoot to have dinner with him
Nelson Mandela – I’d love to hear his life story and his lessons learned
Coco Chanel – she was a rebel of her time – a classy rebel babe

Training hours per week:  

9-10 h on avg

What are your training & race goals for 2019? 

Finish my first Ironman! Enjoy the tri journey and try to not to get injured (again). Am also aiming to eat healthier and cut down on chicken nuggets and pizza

Food shamed  – Connie McNuggett

Team Nagi out & about 

We’ve had Bat Woman poolside now it’s time for Wonder Woman …who’s next ?

It’s Super Woman…she’s back! A smile we’ve all missed at swim squad for the past 2 years. Welcome back to swim squads for the 2nd time LMT (AKA Sue Kumleben)

That feeling when you put in the swim time trial performance of a lifetime! That’s a 2min 43 secs improvement since November 2018 over 1.9km. Nice work Stefano.

Vicki Hill styling it on the beautiful Island of Bintan, all in prep for Ironman South Africa later this week!

….and finally Coach became a proud Uncle for the first time last week! Welcome to the world Baby Mila, your Team Nagi swimsuit is currently in production :+)

The post Team Newsletter – March 2019 appeared first on Team Nagi Coaching.

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Team Nagi Coaching Newsletter – February 2019

Hi Guys,

Hope you are all feeling fit & well.

If my hay fever is anything to go by I’d say spring is nearly upon us!

It’s been a relatively quiet month for the team with only 2 athletes racing. We saw fantastic performances from our two ‘pocket rocket’ ladies. First up was Jersey based athlete Louise Bracken-Smith at the Ana Leaf Les Platons Duathlon, placing 3rd in her age group (40-44) and 4th female overall. Lou is relatively new to the team joining us back in November 2018 and is already showing great promise for the season ahead.

Ana Leaf Les Platons Duathlon (Jersey)

  • Louise Bracken-Smith (5km run/18km bike/2.5km run)
  • 3rd place (45-49 cat) / 4th female overall
  • 23:46 (run 1) 34:46 (bike) 12:01 (run 2) =1:12:34

Powerman Duathlon (Malaysia)

Singapore based Vicki Hill was next to kick off her race season with a superb performance at the Powerman Duathlon in Malaysia. Vicki placed 1st female in the 40-44 category and placed 2nd female overall. Next stop Ironman South Africa.

  • Vicki Hill (10km run/60km bike/10km run)
  • 1st place (40-44 cat) / 2nd place female overall
  • 43:42 (run 1)  1:45:21 (bike)  45:36 (run 2) = 3:19:06

Book Recommendations

This month I wanted to tell you about 2 really good books and a podcast I listened to this month. All 3 were terrific fuel for the mind for endurance athletes & coaches alike. The first book was called –‘Finding Ultra’by Rich Roll.

Rich is a graduate of Stanford University, vegan ultra – endurance athlete, former entertainment Lawyer, one of worlds leading experts on plant based nutrition & best selling author. He was also formerly an alcoholic who managed to completely transform his life for the better. He’s a very spiritual guy and his life is a fascinating journey of self-discovery that he has shared openly.
In it he charts his life from his deeply troubled & shy teenage years to reaching midlife overweight, unhappy and on a downward negative spiral. After a big wake up call he managed to transform himself into one of the worlds fittest athletes. What makes particularly good reading is his EPIC5 challenge, 5 Ironman’s in 5 days on the 5 Islands of Hawaii. Something no one has ever been able to achieve.

I’ve listened to many of his podcasts over the years and when you have the time (some are over 2 hours long!) they are deeply insightful and interesting, it’s great content and you can learn so much from him and his guests.

One I particularly enjoyed was his podcast with Todd Herman. Todd, is an author, high-performance advisor, and entrepreneur. He has also spent the last 2 decades helping professional and Olympic athletes, entrepreneurs, leaders, and executives unlock peak performance at the highest level to achieve their goals while enjoying the process.

Todd is known for his work on the subject of what he calls ‘The Alter Ego Effect’. This is a form of psychological training where you create an ‘alternative self’.  This allows you to unshackle yourself from the fears, weaknesses and insecurities we experience as our normal self in every day life. The terrific example he uses alongside many others in his book started with a conversation he once had with sporting legend Bo Jackson. Bo is one of the greatest American athletes of our time. He was the only athlete in history to play both American Football and Major League baseball at All-star level.

During that conversation Bo told Todd that he never once entered the field of play as Bo Jackson. The character he chose to become inside his mind was Jason, the killer from the 80’s horror movie Friday the 13th. The reason Bo has chosen this extreme character was because as a young sport-star he was deeply troubled with behaviour and anger issues. He was frequently told that unless he learned to control his temper he would never make it as a professional sportsman. Then one day he watched that horror film and saw something in Jason that could help him control his anger issues. It’s a very extreme type of alter ego but the key traits he brought to his game was this cold unemotional character that hid behind a mask & was totally ruthless. When he walked out onto that playing field he became Jason and left Bo behind (minus the knife & anger of course), the rest is history.

What I really loved about this example and many others he talks about in his new book – ‘The Alter Ego Effect’ is the idea of a transformation to another self. We all have fears and weaknesses, that’s just human nature. The question is how can we use mental training strategies to help you break down barriers and move beyond this. The creation of an alter ego is just a very powerful way of doing that.

As human beings we have this incredible ability to imagine, create and decide who we want to become. You can then change who you are in an instant. And as Todd says:

“This isn’t about dishonouring who you are. This is about really looking at the characteristics that will help you succeed, and bringing that part of you to life with the help of an Alter Ego.”
Both books make for really good insightful reading.

Team Nagi Athlete Interview – Lou Bracken-Smith

Name: Lou Bracken-Smith

Age: 46

 Star sign: Capricorn

Years in triathlon: 4


CEO Fairway Group

In another life you would have been a…..?  

Professional Athlete, any sport loved so many; tennis, snowboarding, triathlon.

Who is your athletic alter ego? 

Katie Zaferes

 Favourite training session: 

Long bike session on straight roads preferably  with few hills (Although learning to love them)

Least favourite training session:  

Run hill reps (growing to like them more too!)

Favourite training track:  

Abu Dhabi formula one track what a treat cycling around there on a TT bike.

 Favourite book: 

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

 Favourite training venue/location:  

Fuerteventura Playitas (not been anywhere else !)

Favourite race experience: 

Rotterdam Worlds 2018, amazing to race for Ireland and be amongst so many international age group athletes, incredible atmosphere and experience.

Favourite mantra:

Be the best you can be!

If you could choose 3 famous people to come to dinner with you who would they be & why?  

Mother Theresa, Margaret Thatcher and Rafa Nadal

Training hours per week:  


What are your training & race goals for 2019? 

Racing Aix en Provence top 10 in age group, Team gold Island Games in Gibraltar, top 20 age group worlds Lausanne Aug 2019.

Overall goal to enjoy and make progress!

Team Nagi out & about

A master at work – Freespeed’s Richard Melik gets to work on Connie’s stunning new black/pink Canyon bike

Looking faster already and she isn’t even moving!

It’s definitely new bike month! After his bike was stolen a few months ago Chris O’Neill finally gets his hands on his new trusty steed. One word – Slick.

The pocket rocket Lou Bracken-Smith giving it large on a recent training camp in Fuerteventura – impressive position Lou! (Who’d have thought it)

Looks like trouble this one or maybe one to watch for the future. Mini me Georgie Bracken-Smith wishing her legs were just a little bit longer. 10/10 for effort though

Another master at work, our resident tri-yoga expert strikes a pose

And Rod quickly follows …..not bad at all for a triathlete a few weeks in

Vicki Hill feeling the heat in Malaysia, running her way back to that victory podium

Looks like someone is having fun! Think she missed the sign

The post Team Nagi Newsletter – February 2019 appeared first on Team Nagi Coaching.

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Team Nagi Coaching Newsletter – January 2019

Hi Guy, It’s with great excitement that I write the first Team Newsletter of 2019.

There’s a new season coming thick and fast and I very much look forward to seeing what’s ahead for all of you. I’ve already felt an increased sense of motivation and training urgency from you so the message from me is clear – let’s keep this momentum building towards the race season ahead.

January has been a really quiet month race wise. We had Francesca Wright & Helen Burton putting in two fantastic early season 10k performances & ‘The Big Man’ – Steve Drew racing at Dubai 70.3. After a good build up to his first race of the year, we were pretty excited to see what Steve could do. Unfortunately a week before the race he came down with food poisoning, this put the whole race in doubt. With flights booked and paid for he made the trip anyway but was too weak to do any training almost right through to race day, he did however get to know his bathroom pretty well as he couldn’t hold down any food. It was purely a case of let’s see how you feel on race day and just do the best you can. To be honest I never expected him to finish but he managed to battle on through to a very respectable 4:57 (34:30 swim/ bike 2:22/ run 1:50), finishing 25th /179 athletes in his age group (50-54). This was definitely one for the mental toughness bank and Steve well and truly proved his metal.

There’s a simple lesson in here for you all of you, do not, I repeat, do not eat oysters the week before a race.

Boardman Performance Centre Review

The main excitement for me this past month was having the unique opportunity spend a day at the new Boardman Performance Centrein Evesham, UK. For those that don’t know it is the brainchild of former Olympic gold medalist, Yellow Jersey wearer and World Hour Time Trial record holder – Chris Boardman MBE. Chris is one of the greatest cyclists Great Britain has ever produced and for the past 10 years has pursued his dream of opening this Performance Centre. The Centre provides everything that a cyclist will ever need under one roof, specifically bringing wind tunnel aerodynamic testing to the masses at affordable prices. It also offers bike fitting and physiological testing, they also have the full range of Boardman bikes and other kit available in their huge shop too. It really is the ultimate sweet shop for all cyclists/triathletes everywhere.

The wind tunnel was what I particularly wanted to see, the reason being is most of this kind of testing has only been available through Centre’s created to test car aerodynamics, especially in the world of Formula One. This has only ever been available at a massive cost previously. To put it simply we now have one of the most unique bike testing Centre’s in the world here in the UK that offers this and many other services.

The day started with a talk from Chris, then a walk around before their team gave different presentations throughout the day. Then every hour for several hours they let someone have a go in the wind tunnel. The most fascinating thing you could see was the immediate energy saving costs of adjusting an athletes body position or kit choice. The cyclist can also see the immediate affect of these adjustments as the data is displayed on the floor just ahead of them. It really was extraordinary to see how the smallest changes could make such big differences in energy savings, but maybe not so when you consider how much air resistance increases the faster you ride (see image below). Even just closing a 1cm gap between your hands on the aero bars results in a saving! It all counts.

What was also clear was that they are finding big gains for some of the best athletes in the world (they’ve seen Lucy Charles & Ironman World Record Holder – Matt Hanson recently). These are athletes that are already set up in good bike positions but they are still managing to find them 10-20 watts in savings by making very subtle changes. On the flip side they showed a newbie triathlete that had been set up in a really poor position, they made some adjustments and managed to save him nearly 60 watts just with positional changes alone. Just think of how hard you would have to work in training to achieve anywhere near that.

“Power output at the highest level hasn’t changed much in the last 20-30 years, efficiency has & we are now able to measure it”. Chris Boardman 

Bianca Broadbent (physio & bike fitter) gave another impressive talk. This is a very powerful combination in itself because it is so important for someone to understand your body before they fit a bike to it. We are all so uniquely different and what might work for one athlete certainly wont work for another. This starts with an in depth analysis of your body, looking at your levels of flexibility, mobility and other areas of strength & weakness.

What was especially interesting was the focus given to the feet. Research showing that 80% of triathletes are buying bike shoes because they are on sale or look good and not because they are the best fitting shoe for them. They are also buying pedals before they choose the right shoe when it should be the other way around. You will see in some of the images I’ve shown below that there are multiple foot shapes, sizes and pedal types. It can be a minefield for cyclists everywhere. This clearly demonstrates why bike shoe choice is absolutely paramount to avoid any unwanted issues and discomfort. There will be a brand that works for all of these foot types, they key is finding the right one that suits you. Common sense when you think about it but something quite often ignored.

What was also impressive was their ability to measure pressure on your contact points on the saddle and your foot/shoe/pedal interface as your foot moves. With many athletes being set up in sub optimal positions or using equipment that is creating unwanted areas of stress. This is particularly evident in the type of pedal, shoe and saddle choice. They have a full range of different saddles to try so they can find the one that suits the athletes based on this readily available data.

One of the best parts of the day was actually the Q & A with Chris Boardman himself. Known as ‘The Professor’ his cycling knowledge is unsurpassed, what was even more clear was that he just wanted people to love and enjoy cycling as much as he does. But there was one particularly poignant moment when he was asked a simple question, the answer was a great lesson for athletes out there everywhere:

“Chris, I’m new to cycling and have found a new love in time trialing, I hope to qualify for the National Champs in the next few years. When you look back at your decorated career, what one piece of advice would you give me to help me get the most out of my myself?”

Chris paused and thought for a few moments, he then proceeded to tell a very open and honest story of how he was bullied very badly at school, this shattered his self-worth and confidence. He then found cycling; started to get pretty good at it and eventually began winning some races. This helped build his confidence but he made the mistake of tying up his own self-worth in winning, which ultimately for him was a really bad thing because you can’t always win.

In later years he started to work with the legendary Coach/Sports Scientist – Peter Keen. For those that don’t know Peter was the catalyst for making British Cycling what it is today. He also coached Chris to Olympic Gold and all 3 of his one-hour World Records. What he said Peter taught him (he stressed; through massive failure & some success) was to be more fascinated more with the journey than the end result. He loved to know how things worked or as in many cases didn’t work. Chris found this thirst for better knowledge & understanding fascinating and it inspired him hugely. It was this investment in the process and journey, not results, which helped him develop an even greater source of inspiration and love for cycling.

I thought this was such a great answer for someone new coming into sport but even more so for the amount of athletes I see losing sight of this. With many getting caught up in the rat race.

The message was clear, if you don’t win or succeed, it’s an opportunity to learn. So get excited about failure because sometimes the biggest failures and disappointments lead to the greatest successes. You just need to demonstrate the maturity & open mindedness to know it’s all part of a process that will allow you to uncover your true athletic potential.

What is clear about the Boardman Centre is it is a World Class facility, with World Class experts and the passion of an Olympic legend driving it. There is something for everyone no matter what your level or ability and many different packages. Some might consider it expensive and others wont but what is clear is that it can help you get from A to B quicker by helping you optimise your efficiency & comfort.

Book recommendation

‘Running Rewired’ – Jay Dicharry (Sports physiologist & biomechanics expert)

This is a new section I will be adding to the newsletter each month for those of you looking for some really good reading material. Hopefully you will find a good source of motivation, knowledge and inspiration in them.

The book I’m recommending this month is called ‘Running Rewired’ –  by Jay Dicharry. All I can say about this book is that once in a blue moon a book comes along that stands head and shoulders above all others. What makes this book so good is the way Jay takes some pretty complex issues and makes them so much easier to understand. It also makes clear why research is now showing that over 80% of triathletes are constantly injured.

Jay explains running and movement in a way that I’ve rarely seen before, he will also help you get a better understanding of your body and the way to train it so that it works for you. It really is a must read for all triathletes and coaches out there.

Team Nagi Athlete Questionnaire – JJ


JJ, always JJ apart from to my mum.



Star sign:  

I’m an ex-scientist, I don’t believe in that rubbish.

Years in triathlon: 



Over analytical “Finance Guy”

In another life you would have been a…..?  

I’ve always been a multi-eventer. I would have loved to have made it as a Decathlete, but lack of overall talent and total technical inability to pole vault put a stop to that.

Favourite training session: 

I live in the Peak District and surrounded by amazing countryside, so it has to be the cross country fell running I’m not allowed to do!

Least favourite training session:  

Long distance swim intervals. In a race I love it, but in training zzzzzz

Favourite training track:  

I don’t really listen to music anymore when training, but I like the Theme from the Wombles for running easy to (!) and now if I do need a boost to finish a hard turbo, it is always Thunderstruck.

Favourite training venue/location:  

Lanzarote just edges out Mallorca. The long course pool at Club La Santa blew me away and I love the hill climbs (but very much not the descents). In the UK, the Peak District!

Favourite race experience:

Completing IM Wales on a whim on the back of no long distance training at all. I was always going to be able to do the swim, but the rest was all unknowns. In retrospect, it was madness, but it taught me that I can do anything and what everyone says is true, the support is amazing there. I’m looking forward to giving it a decent crack . . . when I’m ready.

Favourite mantra:

My boys always tell me “never give up” and it’s on my headset cap.

If you could choose 3 famous people to come to dinner with you who would they be & why?

Daley Thompson – my all-time hero.

Not too bothered about the others, so
Brian Wilson – he can sing to us
Atul Kochhar – he’s cooking!

Training hours per week:  

I don’t see training hours alone as a valuable metric, but around 10-12 hours a week right now with a lot of S&C work.

What are your training & race goals for 2019?

Keep enjoying myself, maximize my training potential by getting strong and staying injury free and perform the best I can on race day and see where that takes me. My main race goals..

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Team Nagi Coaching Newsletter – October 2018

Hi Guys,

The end of October is usually the time that I take a big sigh of relief as our triathlon season comes to a close in the Northern hemisphere. The relief is less because the season has come to an end but more to do with the fact that we’ve had some truly brilliant successes this year. I couldn’t be more proud of some of the performances I’ve seen, with many off the back of some very turbulent times indeed. The roller coaster of training and life never ceases to amaze me in the context of the athletes I work with and the fortitude many have shown this year has been truly inspiring.

A recent example of this was our British girl in Singapore (Vicki Hill) at the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii. Looking back she very nearly had the perfect training year building into this race, her consistency and commitment from January through to October was nothing short of world class. All the boxes that could have been ticked were ticked and I can honestly say she barely missed a session, didn’t get injured at all and never got ill once. Then race week in Hawaii she came down with a cold and a sore throat. Whereas many would have well and truly thrown their toys out of their pram, Vicki to her eternal credit took this in her stride and stayed calm. She listened to her body and took my advice, resulting in her taking 3 days off training – something that is not easily done in a place like Hawaii 5 days out from the race! With 2 days to go she felt a bit better and did some light sessions. Then on race day she was rewarded for this approach with an 11th place finish and a 20min PB on the course against some of the best athletes in the world.

This was just one of many shining examples of our athletes showing the strength of character to find a way through even when it seem like the world was against them. Success rarely ever comes off the back of a perfect training build up and it’s usually the behind the scenes stories that would amaze you the most. To see the character all of our athletes have displayed this year when things haven’t been going so well has been nothing short of inspirational.  It certainly keeps fuelling my motivational fire.

As the Northern hemisphere season comes to a close we will now move into a transition phase. October is usually the time that links the end of the current season with the beginning of the new one. For many it’s a month of resting, having fun, doing un-tri related things, losing the rigid training structure and breaking free to do what feels good. You’ve earned it so embrace it. My favourite saying to my athletes is go away and get ‘a little bit’ fat, they also need to take a good break from Coach. I’m more than happy to see photos and texts from them in this period with a cocktail in one hand, a big fat burger in the other whilst showing me their feet up in some sunny location around the world. It really is the best medicine possible.

I also tell them that a good end of season rest period should last about 3-4weeks, in that time they usually go through the following:

  1. The post race high  
  2. The post race low 
  3. The chill out, get fat & have fun phase  
  4. The itchy feet phase  
  5. Back to training  

If you want your triathlon mojo to come back so that you are totally fired up for the season ahead you have to let your body and mind go through the first 3 stages. There is no time limit on this but the sooner you let go of your ‘focus & fitness’ the better, because to build back up again you simply must come back down first. Your body will need it from a physical perspective but just as important your mind will need it too, never underestimate the emotional toll a race season can have on you.  That’s why going through stage 3 is the best possible medicine to heal your mind allowing it to bounce back stronger. This is especially important if you want longevity in the sport, because taking well timed breaks are crucial to help you maintain that hunger.

Once you feel the itchy feet start to appear you’ll know that you’re ready to kick start the new season ahead but you need to be cautious. Many jump in too quickly and fail to put the right building blocks in place, especially in the first 4 weeks of training. You will have lost both fitness, mobility and strength so be sure to re-adjust to where you currently are, not where you were before. This focus should consistent of:

  1. The reintroduction of strength and mobility work  
  2. Aerobic training (low intensity/low volume) 
  3. Good technique & form  
  4. Re-establishing good eating & sleeping habits  
  5. Fitness for fun  
  6. Going by RPE not numbers  
  7. Trying something new like yoga, meditation, Pilates  

You need to be cautious with a softly-softly approach but it should also be progressive over a number of weeks. If you push too hard too soon it will come back to bite you, so be kind to your body and let it reward you. ‘Fitness for fun’ is a great mantra to help guide your thoughts and feeling in this phase. Just enjoy the feeling of blowing off the cobwebs; getting a sweat on and waking the body back up again. If you do this you’ll start to feel really good after a couple of weeks and you’ll sense you are ready to push on a bit further. It’s no surprise that the feedback I get from my athletes is overwhelmingly positive in this period if they are patient and get this right.

Team Race News

Ironman Hawaii – World Championships 

  • Vicki Hill (40-44) 10:19:09 (swim 1:15:40 / bike 5:23:18/ run 3:31:23) 11th in AG
  • Everything this girl has demonstrated this year shows she has the potential to be on that podium in Kona one day. We will find that performance soon enough, it’s only a matter of time. A season to be extremely proud of Vicki Hill, you couldn’t have given anymore.

European Duathlon Champs – Ibiza (Standard distance)

  • Helen Burton (60-64) 2:24:26 (run 55:38 / bike 1:12:42/ run 31:04) 5th in AG
  • Her bike was sent to America, Helen flew to Ibiza. But did this superwoman panic? No she didn’t and she still did it all with a smile finishing in super 5th position. Not bad for a lady that will move into the 65-69 category next year. An amazing finish to a turbulent year, time to enjoy some well earned R&R HB.

Challenge Sardinia Half

  • Edoardo Mercadante (50-54) 4:36:34 (swim cancelled / bike 2:24:53 / run 1:52:38)
  • After the disappointment of a cancelled swim and his first race in 3 years (due to achilles issues) our man from Italy produced an outstanding performance to place 13th out of 66 athletes in his age group. Huge congrats Edoardo.

Ironman Barcelona 

  • Tony Peach (50-54)12:13:57 (swim 1:25:19 / bike 6:10:19/ run 4:24)
  • The man, the myth, the legend came through in true style at IM Barcelona. Not only did he put in a superb performance (despite a tough year at work that took it’s toll on his training) he also managed to look magnificently muscular while doing it. Great work Peachy Cheeks!

  • Sandy Wall (55-59)15:30:20 (swim 1:19:39/ bike 7:26:46/ run 6:24:18)
  • Huge congrats to tough girl Sandy Wall who completed her 3rd Ironman in a brand new PB time.

Challenge Mallorca Paguera

  • Simon North (60-64) 5:45:06 (swim 33:27/ bike 3:09:34/ run 1:50:04) 11th in AG
  • This race that proved to be the start and end of Simon’s race season due to a being held back with a run related injury this year. But he hung in there all season and produced his fastest run split ever over this distance. Great work Mr North!

Abingdon Marathon

  • Annie Emmerson 3:03:50 – 1st in Category / 6th female overall
  • Huge congratulations Annie on a gutsy marathon performance that included a new marathon PB. Just another step closer to that sub 3 hour goal, you will get there eventually ;+)

Amsterdam Marathon 

  • Harvey Smyth – 3:29:48 
  • Kate Smyth – 3:31
  • ‘Team Smyth’ linked up to take on the mighty challenge of the Amsterdam marathon and what a day it was. Two terrific performances, race goals smashed out of the park. Awesome work.

Q & A with Team Nagi athlete – Francesca Wright

Name:   Francesca Wright

Age:   56

Star sign:   Gemini

Years in triathlon:  15 on & off

Occupation:  Nordic Walking Instructor and Personal Trainer

In another life you would have been a…..?  Detective

Favourite training session: 

I don’t have a favourite training session. It is the variety that triathlon brings which I like so much. I always look forward to the next session.

Least favourite training session:  

Anything over 90% effort on the turbo is not pleasant and makes me feel claustrophobic. Great sense of achievement when I’ve completed it successfully.

Favourite training track:  

House and techno for hard intervals and anything from the 80’s for the rest

Favourite training venue/location:    

Club La Santa without the wind

If you could choose 3 famous people to come to dinner with you who would they be?

Lance Armstrong, Jan Frodeno and Alex Zanardi

Is it true all Italian women are amazing cooks ? 

Yes, and I’m the exception to the rule

Pasta or risotto ?   


Training hours per week:  

Average 14/15

How was your training build up to Ironman Italy and what hurdles did you have to overcome? 

I had a bike accident in 2017 and was unable to train until March 2018. I felt I needed to do an Ironman just to get past the accident, but the mental recovery took longer than the physical one. The main hurdle was going back on the bike

What were your race goals?  

I agreed with Julian that the main goal should be to finish the race, and use it as a platform for the future

How did it go?  

My main concern was the bike, but in the end it was the run that gave me most trouble. Due to the heat and some nutritional miscalculations, I walked most of the marathon

What’s next?  

A couple of middle distance races and then an Ironman in 2019. To keep learning and improving. My long-term dream, and goal before I get too old, is to check out what all the fuss is about! The Kona Fuss.

Team Nagi out & about

Love at first sight, huge congratulations to Team Nagi athlete Paul Pulze on the arrival of his first born – Georgia Pulze welcome to the world! Mother, baby & father are all doing well….if looking a bit tired!


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“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart even when it leads you off the well worn path; and that will make all the difference.” Steve Jobs

Hi Guys,

Above is one of my all time favourite quotes; it’s been taken from an address that Steve Jobs gave to the graduating students of Stanford University in 2005. If you haven’t listened to it I’ve attached the link for you (how to live before you die). It was an incredibly powerful speech, one that highlights the strange directions that life can take us before reaching our eventual destination. It’s particularly relevant for anyone that has set out on a journey to achieve sporting success, because as much as we can plan a route to success rarely does it ever take a linear path.

This will be relevant to many of you that as you start to create the vision for what might be ahead for you in 2019. It’s an exciting time because you have a whole season worth of training and racing to look back and learn from. This new path can be a fascinating thing because it really does help set the vision for what’s ahead. It should be exciting, fun and motivating whilst guiding you to a new level of evolution and growth.

It’s hugely important to set this initial vision to give your training direction and focus, but it’s equal important to understand and accept that rarely does this path run smooth. It will always be in flux, ever changing and will need to be responsive to what is happening in your life and the events around you. Some will be predictable, others won’t and there will be many highs and lows along the way. That’s just life for you and training is just like life, with its many twists and turns. The key factor is to keep an open mind along this journey whilst being flexible and adaptable along the way. Sometimes it can be very unclear why certain things are happening to you but rest assured many of them will be happening for a good reason, you just can’t quite see it at the time.

I was reminded of this by a brilliant bulletin that was forwarded to a great coaching friend of mine – Matt Dixon. As Matt did rather than change it in anyway, I will include what he wrote about it and what was written because he also forwarded it to his athletes. It’s wonderful example of the great wisdom we as coaches can find by looking outside of our own sport. It’s such a unique and intelligent perspective that could have only been written by someone with a true understanding of people, process and the path to excellence.

Hope you enjoy.

The Rocky Path to Mastery

This week, I sat at my desk as an email popped up from Kelli. It was a bulletin written by a teacher of meditation, and Kelli had pushed it forward. Mildly interested, I opened and read. I then pondered and smiled. The words on the page could have easily been spoken by a sports coach, a great business leader or, as was the case here, a teacher of meditation. In the piece, the author managed to unpack much of the reality in ‘the journey’ or the process that every great person will go through on their path toward excellence. It is a dirty and crazed experience that will likely be filled with as many downs as ups, but the trend leads to an emergence of the word he anchors around – mastery.

Rather than re-package and refine, I will provide you with the piece. Read it. Then apply it to anything that you have a passion for and seek growth, evolution, and excellence.

The Path

“It is a process of learning something new, applying it in a controlled environment, failing, asking questions, reapplying with new understanding, refining the approach, realizing they’re not actually failing even when it feels like they are, redefining success, breaking down old indoctrinations, doing homework, re-learning how to learn, replacing old habits, ‘failing’ again, asking better questions, going back and doing it the wrong way just to see how far they’ve come, ‘failing’ yet again, more homework, getting lucky, ‘failing,’ then casting doubt on the whole thing.

After stopping for a while, they experience a crisis, then return to the path with humility, re-experiencing it again as if for the first time, getting re-inspired, following the protocol with more confidence, asking more nuanced questions, making the new habits non-negotiable, becoming process-oriented as opposed to outcome-oriented, redefining success yet again, taking tiny steps just to keep forward momentum, setting smaller goals, reviewing their past trajectory, adjusting for common mistakes, pre-empting future ‘failures’ before they happen, adapting to change easier, completely letting go of the outcome, and committing to something larger than them.

I could keep going, but you get the point: mastery is multilayered, multifaceted, and dynamic, and therefore it is sometimes hard to know where we are in the process. But that’s precisely what it means to be ‘in the process.’

The more we stop thinking of the path in linear terms, the faster we advance.”

Team Race News

Ironman Italy

  • Tash Jackson (30-34) 10:21:31 (swim 1:02:07 / bike 5:18:40/ run 3:51:33) 3rd place AG 
  • Yet again this tough girl has proved her class with an outstanding performance in Italy.  A second 3rd place finish in only her 2nd Ironman just shows why she’s known as ‘The Flash’. This girl has demonstrated all year in both training and racing that she has everything it takes to get to the very top of this sport.

  • Francesca Wright (55-59) 13:42:21 (swim 1:07:59 / bike 6:49:22/ run 5:24:48) 7th place AG 
  • What can I say about this amazing lady? In May 2017 she was involved in a horrific bike crash that left her with a severely dislocated shoulder, 3 broken ribs and a sternum fracture.  She then underwent 2 shoulder surgeries and was told she would never swim again. The fact that she made so much progress so quickly in the pool was a miracle, check out that swim time! She then had to overcome the massive psychological scars of getting back on the bike again. The level of drive, courage and determination this lady has shown this year has been such an inspiration to see. She doubted that she would ever do an Ironman again and if there was ever a shining example of the true Ironman spirit in never giving up, you couldn’t find a better example than this. Congratulazioni Francesca!

Ironman Korea

  • Alex Tanti (35-39)11:06:26 (swim 57:35 / bike 5:22:34/ run 4:38:52)
  • After one of his most consistent and best years to date AT finished on a real high in the Korean heat with a superb swim and biking performance. It was oh so close on the run up until half way, it’s only a matter of time before we find that breakthrough

70.3 World Champs – Port Elizabeth

  • Andy Rogerson (30-34) 5:12:08(swim 29:20 / bike 3:02:13/ run 1:34:13)
  • Not the day or the finish to the season that Andy would have wanted at the World Champs. After suffering a mechanical on the bike that saw him lose a considerable amount of time he managed to save the day with a really good run despite carrying a run injury for the past few months. Despite a very rocky year Andy still produced one of his best ever 70.3 performances in Vietnam and his second World Championship appearance. Terrific work Andy, with a bit of lady luck next year we’ll start to see the potential we know is in there.

Vitruvian Middle Distance

  • Helen Burton (60-64) 6:32:16 (swim 39:01 / bike 3:21:36/ run 2:24:46) 2nd place AG
  • Not quite the end of the season for H but she still managed to put in her lifetime best performance over this distance with PB’s in all disciplines. This lady has hung in there all year when many things were against her which makes this performance all the more satisfying. I think the smiles say it all :+)

Slovenia 70.3

  • Stefano Lolli (45-49) 5:52:50 (swim 40:00 / bike 3:08:22/ run 1:57:24)
  • When this guy races it’s all about true Italian passion and heart. He gives his all and as a coach you can’t ask for more than that. A great end to a year that has seen so much growth and development. Great work Stefano couldn’t be more proud of your efforts this year.

Weymouth 70.3

  • Arnaud Marchal (40-44) 6:26:50  (swim 21:49 / bike 3:20:18/ run 2:21:19)
  • Huge congrats to the big guy on completing his first ever 70.3 in awful weather and sea conditions down at Weymouth. It was so bad many athletes failed to finish the race so well done on battling through!

Brighton triathlon 

  • Eric Kump (45-49) 2:16:50 (swim 8:33 / bike 1:13:32/ run 51:19)
  • After his success at Ironman Austria earlier this year Eric bounced back with a solid performance at his hometown triathlon. Time to put those feet up for a while now Eric, you’ve earned it.

Berlin Otillo swim-run

  • Anna John & Sarah Larkam (Female pair) 6:30:51 / 7th place
  • Huge congrats to team “Terrific Two’ for finishing one of the toughest swim-run events out there. This race is part of the world series and consisted of 10 swims (7.5K total), longest swim 1300 metres + 33K of running, longest 7.3k, 12 runs total. Great work ladies, you can read more about Anna’s adventure below.

Q & A with Team Nagi athlete – Anna John (left)

Name:   Anna John

Age: 51

Star sign:  Taurus (stubborn)

Years in swim-run:  2


Mergers & Acquisitions broker

In another life you would have been a…..?  

A teacher

Favourite training session: 

Anything at the weekend when I don’t feel rushed, can train with friends and finish with coffee.  I’ve loved the multiple brick sessions I’ve done for swim run – swim a bit, run a bit and repeat whilst making anyone you meet laugh with the strange swim run kit we wear.  

Least favourite training session:  

I don’t think I have one – but I enjoy training least when I am pushed for time and trying to cram it in to a slot that is slightly too small.  I also hate getting up early.

Favourite training track:  

Wetsuit by The Vaccines.  Love that song – it makes the hairs stand up on the back of my neck.  I also love the Welsh national anthem, especially as sang on Tenby beach at the start of Ironman Wales.  That makes me cry!

Favourite book: 


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Hi Guys,

I came across this brilliant quote recently. It comes from former pro Ironman athlete & coach Gordon Byrn:

“Protocol does not matter UNLESS it is supported by a habit of personal excellence”

Another world-class coach followed it with this:

“Or to put it another way set up your life (& program) to enable you to ‘do’ before worrying about ‘what you do’. Alan Couzens

The reason this struck such a cord is that August always presents a really reflective time for me as coach. It’s all about reviewing the past season, and then starting to formulate a new exciting plan for the next one. It’s also a transitionary time when some athletes are in the midst of training for big events, others are enjoying their off season rest period and some are about to start their preparation all over again for the 2019 season. The racing this year is far from over and we’ll have athletes racing at the 70.3 Worlds champs in South Africa, Sardinia 70.3, Slovenia 70.3, the Vitruvian, The Berlin Otillo, Ironman Korea, Ironman Italy, Ironman Barcelona, Ironman Taiwan, Ironman Hawaii, Ironman Florida & Ironman Western Australia in the coming months.

What’s most interesting is hearing the feedback from a lot of my athletes about how good their training quality has been when they’ve been away on holiday. For some a holiday will present the perfect opportunity to train for an up and coming event. The question I like to ask them is this – Is it really any surprise that your swim feels better, your biking feel stronger and your run legs have suddenly come back to you when you’ve just eliminated a 40-70 hour work week from your training?

This clearly demonstrates the massive impact your work life on your training and should never be underestimated. But it also shows why those two quotes are so powerful, because far too many athletes place such little emphasis on setting up their life in a more balanced way so they can improve their training and race performances. Many seem to think that adding more and working harder is the key to success, when actually it could have the opposite affect if things are out of sync.

Usually it’s the same athletes that take a top down (results driven) approach to their training who get the mix wrong, when a bottom up (holistic) approach is a much more sensible approach to take. When you set the foundations securely and strive for a realistic achievable balance between recovery, work, family and training then success will be just around the corner. This of course, will always be in flux for many so making the right decisions at the right time depending on what is happening in your life is even more crucial. With many being too afraid to back off because they see it as a sign of weakness. This old school archaic thinking presents one of my greatest frustrations as a coach.

Training needs to be responsive to what’s happening in the moment, failing to adapt and continuing to do so over long periods of time can have a cataclysmic affect on your mind-set, training quality and your ability to recover. It will also have a knock on affect when you race because you reduce your ability to get fitter and stronger. If you think it doesn’t have such a huge impact then you need to take a healthy dose of reality.

You then need to look in the right places to find the improvements that will keep moving you forwards. This is where many will take a wrong turn yet again. For many it all seems to be about adding more & going harder when most of the time the athlete hasn’t even been able to hit the prescribed level of training given from the previous season on a consistent basis. So if you work a 60 hour week and you’ve only be able to hit 70-80% of that training previously then the only way to add more is to drop your work hours to 50 or 40. It’s not rocket science but it amazes me how some pretty darn smart people can’t actually see this.

The other key areas I see for improvement which end up being ignored are the development of specific skill sets that have enormous value. Many athletes fail to transfer great training fitness into race performances because they underestimate the importance of these skill sets.

One of the biggest areas if see for this is open water swimming, where many athletes make great gains in the pool, then fail to deliver in open water swimming races. Then when you look at how much time they spend racing and training in open water it’s almost non-existent. With many doing one of two races a year and expecting miracles to happen when they do this. If you are unconfident, nervous or lacking in open water specific skills (pace control, being comfortable with other people being close to you, the ability swim in a straight line etc) you need to be adding more open water swim training & racing NOT more pool training to your already overloaded training schedule. Fitness can only carry you so far; specificity is the real winner here.

The next area of concern is the race choices of many athletes looking to achieve peak performance. If you are going to commit to training for a big event for the next 6-10 months then make sure the course & climate actually suits your strengths and limits your exposure to weaknesses. Time and time again I see athletes choosing races that expose their lack of open water skills (sea swims), bike skills (hilly or technical bike courses) and running strength (choosing hilly courses whilst having a long history of running related injuries). With many choosing races without even looking at the profiles and course descriptions. It might be a lovely place to go for a tan but don’t be surprised if you under-perform because you lack the necessary skill sets that are needed to perform well at these locations.

And finally we come to run training, which is often the greatest area of frustration for athletes. Many athletes get injured each year and fail to deliver consistency like they do with swimming and biking. If your body is constantly breaking down with niggles and other injuries then a big re-think is needed. Setting unrealistic goals for the pace you want to achieve in future races is almost futile if you can’t put in place the right plan to help prevent these injuries in the first place. Your body needs the strength, mobility & technique to support running in the first place before you build a progressive run training plan. If the foundations of any of these highlighted areas are weak it will only be a matter of time before problems start to occur.

With that in mind it’s no wonder that the ‘smart’ athletes are now starting to add yoga, meditation, Pilates, stretch classes and sports specific strength & conditioning as an integral part of their training plans. They also take a much more sensible approach to getting more sleep and recovery.  Many of these athletes will have experienced tremendous frustration with injuries & training fatigue and other issues that has lead them down this path in the first place. What they’ve realised is you can’t just keep adding more unless the body & mind & life structure is strong enough to support it in the first place.

So the message is clear – when you come to review your training year consider all of the elements I’ve listed above. Identify the key areas for improvement that are specific to you and realise that performance is not purely driven by results and numbers alone. The clues are all there in front of you; you just need to be smart enough to find them.

Team Nagi Race round up 

Bintan 70.3

  • Vicki Hill(40-44) 4:55:38 (swim 37:53 / bike 2:39:02 /run 1:34:18) 
1st in AG, 1st female overall
  • A stunning performance from the pocket rocket to win her age group and take out the fastest overall female award. The perfect race prep ahead of Kona this year with the fastest bike and run split of the day as an added bonus.

Nice first prize!

Arundel Olympic qualifier

  • Helen Burton (60-64) 3:20:19 (swim 29:43 / bike 1:35:32 /run 1:11:57) 3rd place AG
  • After an incredibly tough year hampered by a running injury H came through with flying colours to qualify to race for Team GB at The European Triathlon Champs next year. Just goes to show you what can happen when you hang on in there!


Sunshine Coast 70.3

  • Emily Loughnan (Pro) 4:21:34 (swim 27:11 / bike 2:28:07 /run 1:22:12) 7th place
  • As Emily’s sister said to her “I guess you need the shockers to get the good ones. Onwards and upwards. I know you’ll bounce back in style as always”. I don’t doubt it for a second.

 Gdynia (Poland) 70.3

  • Alex Tanti (35-39) 4:50:53 (swim 29:10 / bike 2:31:54 /run 1:44:02)
  • Another super strong and consistent performance from Mr Consistency this year, the perfect lead in race to Ironman Korea in September.

Cotswold Classic

  • Stefano Lolli (45-49) 5:28:01(swim 38:05 / bike 2:42:45 /run 1:57:52)
  • A super performance from our man from Italy to put in his fastest bike split ever on a blisteringly hot day where everyone suffered on the run. A huge boost in confidence that has certainly put the bit between his teeth for his final race of the year!

Ireland 70.3

  • JJ (40-44) 5:51:14(swim 36:42 / bike 3:23:43 /run 1:45:12)
  • Tough day at the office for JJ on a bike course & in Irish conditions that didn’t suit him. On the flip-side JJ produced his highest placed swim and run finish to date. Great work JJ you more than earned your Guinness & Irish stew (FOMO)

Ironman Canada

  • Lucie Jansen (40-44) 14:48:48(swim 1:18:24 / bike 7:41:51 /run 5:31:48)
  • Sometimes race performances are about so much more than the times (from this usual top-10 finisher) especially when you’ve been out for well over a year with injuries and a shoulder op. Great to see that smile back on your face Lucie Jansen, it’s been a long time coming :+)

Q & A with Team Nagi athlete – Jeremy Cole (JC)

 Name: Jeremy Cole

Age: 60 (just)

Star sign: Leo

Years in triathlon: 20 years

Occupation: Lawyer

In another life you would have been a …?

Professional adventurer

Favourite training session: 

The last one before a race

Least favourite training session?

The first “Nagi” swim session after the summer break

Favourite training track? 

Roxette by Dr Feelgood

Favourite training venue/location?

Open water swimming in South Pool creek, Devon

If you could chose 3 famous people to come to dinner with you who would they be?

Doug Scott – a great mountaineer who has managed to stay alive – see account of his rescue from the Ogre in Pakistan https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/untold-rescue-of-climbers-doug-scott-and-chris-bonington-from-icy-jaws-of-the-ogre-wstj5sv2t

Bill Tillman – the ultimate explorer

Sir Francis Chichester – he was the first person to sail solo around the world and at the age of 66 – so there is still hope for me!

Training hours per week: 8 hours

What was your race focus this year?

To qualify for the world championships in Lausanne in 2019 + European championships in Estonia in July.

What were you race goals? 

First and foremost the goal was to enjoy the buzz of racing internationally. The second goal was to manage the injuries.! The final goal was to make sure I had nothing left in my tank at the end. And after 20 years of racing a pb in Estonia was a nice surprise.

What’s next?

Time for some new challenges so I have signed up (along with Caroline, my wife) for the Engadine ski marathon in March 2019 – time to learn how to cross-country ski using the skating technique. And then I have entered the Three Estuaries Race which is a combination sailing and running race on the south coast of Devon.

Team Nagi Feature – Whose ‘pain cave’ is it anyway?

 Now that’s what I call a high-tech training cave – think I can spot at least 6 power meters! Can only be a finance guy.

‘Pain cave’ or ‘Performance lab’ ? as this Rocky inspired Frenchman would say.

Ooooo mean, intense and moody this one. Not like it’s studious owner. This smart cookie has more letters after her name than a Welsh train station.

Proper old school, just like it’s Celtic owner. No fancy gadgets, just a fan to stay cool and a bed to collapse onto.

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