THE T:ZERO BLOG
Free advice, content and media for all. It's our way of giving back to the tri community who have given so much to us. Enjoy!
“Anything is better than nothing. Just have a go and start small to prove to yourself you can do it. Then the sky’s the limit!”
Our March Fast Five athlete is Rachelle Mulligan. Based in Brisbane, Rachelle has recently celebrated one year of being a T:Zero athlete, under the tutelage of Coach Steve.
For the last four years Rachelle has participated in numerous running and triathlon events - from fun runs and half marathons to sprint, olympic and half ironman triathlon. Her preference is the longer distances that play to her endurance strength and completing the Sunshine Coast Half Ironman with her family at the finish line has been her proudest triathlon moment to date.
While her best leg is the swim, she gains most enjoyment from the run; her favourite training session being the long L2/L3 runs which give her time to “chill and reset”.
As an Associate Nurse Unit Manager on a Cardiothoracic Surgical Unit at one of Brisbane’s largest hospitals as well as a mum of two young children, understandably, Rachelle’s biggest challenge is working around the logistics of managing training, shift work and home life. Fortunately, with a supportive family and coach in her corner, she’s been able to achieve balance between all three with careful planning, focus and dedication.
Prior to the COVID-19 cancellations to events announced earlier this month, Rachelle was focussed on the goal of completing her first marathon at Noosa in May, as well as the Gold Coast Half Marathon and her first trail run at the Brisbane Trail Ultra 30K. In true T:Zero spirit, she’s now revised her plans and has the Virtual Triathlon Series on top of her list and is setting a date to run her own marathon in the coming months. She’s still got her fingers crossed the Sunshine Coast Half Ironman goes ahead later this year - as do we!
Why and how did you get into triathlon/endurance/multisport?
After having my second child in 2015 (2 children under 2) I found myself possibly selfishly looking for something just for me to achieve and a bonus was I got a bit of alone time.
My sister-in-law who was a runner dragged me down to parkrun and encouraged me weekly after that. The feeling of participating in a weekly event with people of all abilities made it the perfect environment for me to get started.
I then was asked to be the swimmer in a team triathlon and the atmosphere from that day sparked the hunger in me to want to be part of that!
Favourite race? Why?
Sunshine Coast Half Ironman.
It was a long lead up with lots of training and sacrifices (not just for me but my husband and children) that went into one perfect day. With lots of family and friends on the sideline cheering me on to complete something that I never thought possible.
What’s your favourite thing about triathlon/endurance/multisport?
I think the atmosphere on race day is something that is unbeatable. I am always a nervous wreck as I just want to be able to do my best and make all the training count. When I cross that line I am already thinking about when I can do it again (maybe not my first thought but definitely always have that post tri week high which results in entries to more events!)
What motivates or inspires you to train/race/participate?
Initially I wanted to get fit and healthy and have found a way to do this while having fun with triathlons. To have an event coming up pushes me to be race ready and have another focus in life outside of family and work. The love and support of my family to participate in this sport is also a big motivator.
Since becoming a T:Zero athlete, what is the one new belief, behaviour, habit formed or skill honed that has most improved your athletic (or everyday) performance?
The fear of the red session on Training Peaks!!!!
I guess with that deep down is being accountable for my own success. I have an amazing coach who sets well thought out sessions and if they are not completed then that is all on me. If I want to improve and smash goals then I need to put the work in and not make excuses.
And one more for good measure (and a big head) …
Why do you love being part of the T:Zero Multisport team?
Steve’s coaching is second to none and I have really enjoyed the support and training he has provided over the last year.
Meeting the extended T:Zero team before the Sunshine Coast Half IM last year was great to put some faces to names and felt nice to be a part of a team in a primarily individual sport. Out on the course it helped pass the tough times by spotting the T:Zero kits and the famous pink socks and I heard a lot of encouragement every time paths were crosse
We are in an unprecedented situation.
The Coronavirus is taking a grip around the world and Governments are taking action. The spread of the virus is inevitable, it is simply a matter of doing everything possible to reduce the speed of which is spreads.
It is a result of this, that sporting events are quickly becoming impacted. Just this week, the NBA put a hold on its season, and today the Formula 1 made the call to cancel the Australian Grand Prix.
Ironman, today, sent out an email to all and sundry, whereby CEO Andrew Messick said:
“We expect that there are going to be substantial and widespread event postponements in the coming weeks and months.” This comes on the back of Ironman postponing both Greece and Puerto Rico’s 70.3 events and Ultraman postponing Arizona.
This afternoon, the Australian Federal and State Governments have directed that all non-essential gatherings of man than 500 people to be suspended. It is likely that we will see this worldwide in the coming weeks. If this becomes the reality it will quite possibly mean that a lot (if not all) of the 2020 race schedule for all of our endurance athletes will be postponed until 2021.
So, if this occurs, how can we turn this into a positive? Almost every athlete in the T:Zero stable has a priority A race in 2020 but if these races are postponed to 2021, where does that leave us?
Your goals - A matter of when, not if
At T:Zero we have always believed that you can achieve anything in this sport. For us, it has always been a matter of ‘when’, not ‘if’ you will achieve your goal.
Whether or not you want to finish your first triathlon, break that certain time in an Ironman, qualify for the world championships, or do your first Ultra – these goals do not need to change. Nothing should get in your way. Whether you achieve them this year, or next year or in 2025, it is always a matter of when, not if.
When racing is not the answer – A case in point
The possibility of having your goal race postponed until 2021 will no doubt cause for some disappointment. But quite possibly, we will look back and concluded that it was the best outcome.
A case in point was Coach Andrew Perry. After a solid debut Ironman Melbourne (40th in Age Group), he raced again in Ironman WA and had an underwhelming performance, coming 15th in his age group. His goal was to qualify for the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii but knew he had to improve. He made the decision to not race a single race the ensuing year – to simply train, develop and improve. Do everything possible in his power to be the best athlete he could be for an entire year. The data, the speed, the power, were all able to provide the necessary feedback as to his development over the year off racing.
What happened? The year immediately after his hiatus from racing, he raced an Ironman, became Age Group champion and qualified for Kona!
The lesson here – the obstacle is the way
The COVID-19 is worrying. It will likely have a detrimental impact on the racing calendar this year – but how you react to this, will set you apart from the rest.
Are you someone who will use this as an excuse to drop the ball for your athletic development, or will you see this as an incredible opportunity to double down, to go all in and use this year as a year to develop into an even stronger, fitter, faster version of yourself? The decision is ultimately yours, but if you ask Andrew – taking a year off racing to concentrate on his training – was the best decision he could have made.
Marcus Aurelius said “The mind adapts and converts to is own purposes the obstacle to our acting. The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way”
What defines every T:Zero athlete, is their drive and determination to achieve their crazy awesome goal – whatever that goal is. We know there will be obstacles, and in fact, it is because of these obstacles that make the journey and achieving the ultimate goal worthwhile. At T:Zero, we embrace the obstacles.
We know that this sort of temporary delay in the 2020 calendar, will only encourage the T:Zero athletes to see the opportunity that it presents. To improve our craft, to improve our strengths and work on our weaknesses, so when we do race, we will be ready to live our potential.
Richard & Scotty
Is your inner bookworm seeking new material?
Never content to rest on our laurels, at T:Zero we’re constantly searching for ways to improve our performance - both athletically and personally - coaches and athletes alike. In the interests of striving to live our potential, training our brains is just as important as training our bodies.
Recently, we asked our coaching team to recommend their favourite endurance-related books so we could collate a comprehensive list to share with our athletes and friends. There’s something to whet the appetite of almost every athlete below, so take a look - one of our recommended reads might just be the catalyst you need to tweak your training, lifestyle or mindset and in return, reap massive rewards in your next big race.
So next time you find yourself reaching for your phone for an hour of mindless scrolling, perhaps reach for one of these books instead.
Run with the Best by Tony Benson
Recommended by: Coach David Dellow
Run with the Best is a super practical guide to putting together a long term running program. Author Tony Benson gives a brief outline of training philosophies used by various world class coaches from around the world, then takes you through the benefits of specific training sessions and finally the best way to structure a long term running program.
Although it’s just a book about running there’s lots of stuff that can be applied to triathlon.
Unbeatable mind: forge resiliency and mental toughness to succeed at an elite level by Mark Divine
Recommended by: Coach Monique Ralph
Commander Divine is a former Navy SEAL who has trained thousands of candidates for the SEAL program as well as being on active duty for the Navy.
Unbeatable Mind has deeply impacted the lives of thousands of people seeking strength in their thinking, mental-state, and self-development with a curated package of tools and techniques not easily found anywhere else.
In this book, Author Mark Divine offers his philosophy and methods for developing maximum potential through integrated warrior development. This work was created through trial and error proving to thousands of clients that they are capable of twenty times more than what they believe.
The powerful principles for forging deep character, mental toughness and an elite team provided in this book are the foundation of the Unbeatable Mind 'working in' program being used by coaches, professors, therapists, doctors and business professionals worldwide.
I have learned the following ideas/principles:
> Mental clarity - to make better decisions while under pressure.
> Concentration - to focus on the mission until victory is assured.
> Awareness - to be more sensitive to your internal and external radar.
> Leadership authenticity - to be a heart-centered leader and service oriented teammate.
> Intuition - to learn to trust your gut and use mental imagery to your advantage.
The Road to Character by David Brooks
Recommended by: Coach Stuart Hill
Have you ever scrolled through your social media feed, only to be left feeling a bit empty? Everyone else seems always to be having such a great time on holidays, graduating from Uni, or getting some amazing job. But in real life, these people are having struggles just like us. Unfortunately, social media has made a shift from a place to express ourselves to an arena for self-promotion.
It’s not just social media, though. The internet itself is just a mirror of what our society has evolved into. These days we are increasingly concerned with ourselves and what we need. Living like this puts people under constant pressure to perform and compete. Because of this stress, we forget that what we really want is for people to remember us for who we were, not for what we did.
In The Road to Character, David Brooks reflects on how society’s values have changed for worse, and shares the deeper values we should start filling our lives with instead. He encourages us to rebalance our scales between our “resume virtues,” or achieving wealth and status, and our “eulogy virtues,” which are those deep within us such as honesty, bravery, and kindness.
Whilst not a book that relates directly to endurance sport or triathlon you can be sure to read this and emerge thinking about the things that really matter in life. How will you be remembered? Your resume may reveal that you won the race or conversely it may reveal that you stopped to help another athlete and forfeited your chance of winning. Read The Road to Character to "discover who you really are and embrace a simple truth: in order to fulfil yourself you must first learn to forget yourself".
Grit - The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth
Recommended by: Coach Heidi Sowerby
Author Angela Duckworth defines grit as “perseverance and passion for long-term goals”. Grit entails working strenuously toward challenges, maintaining effort and interest over years despite failure, adversity, and plateaus in progress.
Duckworth explores how gritty individuals approach achievement over the long term and how their key advantage is the commitment to stick to the plan despite challenges. Whereas disappointment or boredom signals to others that it is time to change direction, the gritty individual stays the course.
In endurance world essence... doing the work, day in, day out.
This book explores a wide variety of topics including measuring grit on the Grit Scale, how to grow grit, interest, practice, purpose, hope and the various playing fields of grit including parenting and sport.
The messages and takeaways in every chapter are in definite parallel to those you will hear from your coach on what it takes to be successful in our sport.
It may be still early days for grit research, but this book and its concepts are definitely worth exploring. A great read.
Mindset by Dr. Carol Dweck
Recommended by: Coach Scotty Farrell
There are many simple takeaways that can be applied right across the board in skill acquisition and general growth in any area.
My favourite: the word 'yet'. By adding this simple word onto the end of a sentence that might otherwise finish feeling a touch negative, you can change your or someone else's whole mindset on something.
"I can't possibly do 20 push ups... yet"
Great for teaching my kids, and for attempting to shift an athlete's mindset a touch (maybe). Old dogs take more work obviously.
Becoming a Supple Leopard by Dr. Kelly Starrett
Recommended by: Coach Lisa Spink
A rabbit hole I am glad I am down - mobility - understanding how the body copes with load, why it breaks and what to do about it.
The Pyramid of Success by John Wooden
Recommended by: Coach Richard Thompson
One of the greatest coaches of all time and his thoughts around his processes. The chapters dedicated to his way of coaching is the blueprint for why he was so successful over so many decades.
On March 7th, over one thousand adrenalin-fuelled athletes will gather on the start line of Ironman New Zealand 2020. Taking place in the picturesque town of Taupo on the North Island, Ironman New Zealand is the world’s longest-running Ironman. With so many of our T:Zero athletes and coaches partaking in this event over the years, it’s fair to say our love for IMNZ runs deep. Here are five reasons it holds a special place in our heart …
1. The swim is “unreal”
… in the immortal words of Coach Scotty, who knows this course so well. Other words often used to describe the swim include “magnificent” “breathtaking” and “magic”. Set in the pristine waters of Lake Taupo, one of the world’s largest fresh water lakes, the swim course is crisp and clear; and golf balls lining the bottom of the lake offer swimmers a nice, novel surprise, as do the friendly scuba divers waving from down below! Combine this with the haka at sunrise and the starting cannon sending athletes off from a deep water mass start … it’s enough to send chills down your spine. Be warned - the swim transition run to T1 is significantly longer than normal, although the fact that it’s lined by a red carpet eases the pain somewhat…
2. Community support is second to none
One of the universally-loved aspects of IMNZ is the incredible support athletes receive from the local community. Crowds of locals line each leg of the course to ensure that athletes are never left alone with a dark thought in a dark corner for even a moment. And they never stop cheering. Campervans, cars and people abound, and the ability of the locals to embrace the visiting athletes and make them feel at home makes all the difference. Local school children even pen letters of encouragement to distribute to athletes which provides a unique gift and a welcome boost too!
3. The volunteers are awesome
An extension of #2, the volunteers make this race incredible. Consistently voted as one of Ironman’s most well-run events, Ironman New Zealand’s 2000+ volunteers provide an army of support for athletes, ensuring the day runs as smoothly as possible. Time and again, professionals and age groupers consistently mention the incredible support provided by the volunteers, who sure know how to throw a party (particularly at the aid stations), making themselves a memorable highlight for many athletes.
4. Taupo itself … is a gem!
Taupo offers visitors spectacular scenery and a relaxed small town feel, because it is, in fact, a relaxed small town! Despite the small population, Taupo has plenty of shops (great coffee shops!) and restaurants and is brimming with culture, rich in local Maori history. The town is packed with sights, attractions and activities for athletes and their families to enjoy, pre or post-race - whatever floats your boat. And if you're struggling to move on the Sunday, you can rest up and enjoy the lake and mountains that surround the town - natural beauty is plentiful here.
5. The bike and run courses keep you honest
Nail these two legs and you’ll know you’ve done an Ironman, that’s for sure. The two-loop bike course is technically described as “undulating”, providing a good challenge for athletes who’ll enjoy some spectacular scenery (think farmlands and forests) while battling the potentially interesting headwinds amongst other things. The run course is a three-looper so you can get into your groove here, taking in lakefront scenery which eases the pain of some interesting changes in terrain on the run (which, incidentally is described on the Ironman website as “flat”). The run course also takes athletes through town three times which helps if you need a boost of support from the amazing crowds (refer #2, above).
All in all, Ironman New Zealand offers spectacular scenery, a challenging course and incredible local support. It’s certainly one race in the suite of Ironman events that’s best placed on your bucket list now if it’s not already. Good luck to all our T:Zero athletes racing IMNZ 2020!
Coach Steve Wehlow
“To me, it’s all about attitude and commitment to your goal. Inevitably life is going to get in the way sometimes, but over the long term, athletes with the right attitude and commitment are the ones who succeed”
In our February edition of Fast Five, we’re rounding up the spotlight on our coaches with a feature on long-time T:Zero athlete (one of the very first, in fact!) and coach, Steve Wehlow. Steve’s been a T:Zero athlete for 10 years and a coach for four.
Coach Steve’s debut in triathlon occurred at the 1994 Chinchilla Melon Festival at the tender age of 11. After a long hiatus, he decided to relaunch his triathlon career at the Noosa Tri in 2007 and hasn’t looked back, participating in triathlons and endurance events in one form or another every year since.
From sprint and Olympic distance, to numerous Ironman 70.3, long-courses and six Ironmans throughout Australia, Canada and Mexico, Steve has endured and enjoyed his fair share of triathlon. Add to the mix a few Peaks Challenge cycling events and Ultra Trail Australia 100km and it’s clear he’s got a lot of endurance experience to offer.
Training, early mornings and time away from his family are Steve’s least favourite things about the sport, but these downsides are countered by the positives of comradery with old friends and meeting new friends along the way, as well as providing an opportunity to visit new places.
His favourite session is called “Treadmill Gold” (sounds ominous) - which he says his own athletes will know well. It’s tough, but keeps him honest and in a heaped mess at the end of the session more often than not! While he’s not currently training for any events, he’s firmly focussed on making sure his stable of athletes live their potential in 2020 and beyond.
Favourite race? Why?
IM Western Australia 2010
My first Ironman - had a great day out on course and achieved something I never thought I could do (also proposed to my now wife).
IM Cozumel 2011
A race where anything that could go wrong did (e.g. running over my race wheel heading into check-in, getting 4 flats and no way to fix them). Yet I also saw the best that people had to offer and why I enjoy the endurance events so much including (long story short) being loaned a bike mid-race from another competitor unable to make the cut-off time themselves, allowing me to complete my race. Add some torrential rain and a few dizzy spells during the run … it was quite an emotional finish!
My first race after my daughter was born. And while the views are spectacular, the highlight was being able to see her at the check points. Especially in the bad sections, it pushed me to keep going knowing I’d get to see her again soon. Also getting to spend the weekend away with my family as an encore to our IMWA trip three years earlier.
Proudest triathlon moment?
Finishing the Long Course World Championships in Las Vegas, being able to wear the green and gold and having my parents there watching as I’d been living in Canada for 11 months prior.
Since becoming a T:Zero athlete or coach, what is the one new belief, behaviour, habit formed or skill honed that has most improved your athletic (or every day or coaching) performance?
Be willing to continue to learn. This holds true as an athlete and a coach. From the athlete side, I am constantly learning more about myself and what I can accomplish both in training and racing. And that’s not always about how hard or fast I go, it’s also about control.
As a coach, I am constantly learning new ideas from a range of sources, but especially from the other coaches in our group. Each has come with their own history/experience knowledge and the diversity enables all of us to grow. I’m also learning from my athletes. Each one is different and has different needs and while I may not have all the answers immediately, I aim to learn so I can.
Have you ever had an apparent training or race day “failure” that has set you up for later success?
I don’t know if failure is the right word, but I have had some tough training days - from riding in rain so hard you can hardly see what’s ahead, to training indoors next to a heater because it’s zero degrees and raining outside and then changing into three layers to run off the bike in freezing temperatures (all because I decided to do a race in Mexico while I was living in Canada … not my best idea in hindsight!). Knowing I’d been through this meant that come race day I could honestly say it can’t get much worse!
Best piece of advice for someone starting out in the sport? Or best advice you’ve received?
Consistency is king. You DON’T need all the fancy gear. Sure, some of it is helpful and fun, but there were people going around twenty years ago without all the fancy equipment and they were still going faster than a lot of the pros these days.
And one more for good measure (and a big head) …
Why do you love being part of the T:Zero Multisport team?
It’s a supportive and inspiring group to be a part of, as both an athlete and coach. Whether you’re a competitive age-grouper, weekend warrior, first-timer or somewhere in between - there are no egos. Everyone is committed to achieving their own goals. What’s not to love about that?
The finish line feels!!! It means so much to all of us. But how we get there, how the race unfolds, how we deal with adversity and effectively problem solve throughout the day comes down to the months and sometimes years of preparation, and to some degree, how specific and customised your training program and coaching was, guiding you to that finish line.
Below is the latest blog from Head Coach Scotty Farrell who takes a dive into T:Zero's customised coaching approach.
At the very heart of what we do at T:Zero lies the notion of customised coaching. The group of awesome humans we have attracted and brought together, all have the shared belief of treating each individual athlete that graces us with their presence, as you guessed it… individuals.
In a recent exchange of ideas behind the scenes, I threw out the macro planning/periodisation question around season structure, and general planning. What overwhelmingly came from that discussion was that, well, ‘it depends’. Every statement made suggesting one method over another, backed by science, art, and experience, was caveated with ‘it depends on the individual’.
This exact phrase of ‘it depends’ underpins everything the team of coaches at T:Zero do on a weekly/daily basis with their athletes, and it makes me so proud to be a part of such a great bunch of humans. There is no progression without adequate recovery and adaptation. Therefore, a traditional approach of base/build/peak/taper and 3 weeks on 1 week recovery, that you might find in the classic training ‘bible’, is somewhat null and void, unless, the individual has a lifestyle that allows for an almost flawless routine, and next to zero outside influences effecting their flow. In all my years of coaching, this happens rarely if ever. Sickness, injury, family commitments, work commitments, all rear their face at some stage in a person’s life and without a coach to understand this, and adapt an individual’s training to suit, you are pushing the proverbial shit up hill/going nowhere fast.
There’s lots of buzz in the coaching world on a performance level at the moment around technology… AI, machine learning etc and the ability for machines to make better decisions than humans. There’s no denying that with the right programs and algorithms, a machine can indeed make more accurate decisions than us mere mortal humans. But, I am still waiting on a machine that can understand emotions and apply empathy… as I say this I am thinking I am probably going to be slapped in the face with a ‘yeah they can Farrell’.
I love the geeky side of coaching, but like the rest of the team of coaches at T:Zero, we believe the tools are there to aide in the daily decisions we make as coaches to treat every individual with respect and empathy, whilst at the same time, being acutely aware that each day, week, month, year, is all part of a bigger picture… the big picture of consistency, patience, stacking the layers, staying healthy, and enjoying the process.
My advice to you… if you are training, following a program, working with a coach… and you are not being treated as a unique individual, then find a coach who does. It’s the difference you could be missing.
You could for example start right here 😉
I was able to enjoy some time off training at the end of the year and have started the year easing into it again with some light volume and have gradually built each week. I wanted to have been running more by now but have had to ease off the running over the last 4 weeks due to a niggle in my knee. Thanks to a friend who reminded me of the saying “If we listen to our body when it whispers, we won’t have to listen when it screams.” Although, it’s frustrating being limited by the duration, intensity and amount of running training, I know I have plenty of time up my sleeve to get fit and sharpen up my run before being able to race this year. Once I am confident that my body is good to go again we will focus more on steadily building my run volume over the first half of the year.
Apart from the niggle that’s been puttingthe brakes on my run training, I’ve enjoyed riding my bike with mates. I’ve even had a couple of goes at trying to stay on my partner’s (Damien Collins) wheel on some long rides through the Sunshine Coast hinterland. I still have lots of work to do to be able to keep up with him but I have been enjoying the challenge and it’s great to see him riding so strong early on in the year. I’ve also loved being back at the Nambour swim squad a couple of times a week.
This month’s blog I thought I would write about tips on how to qualify for Kona as an age group athlete. The qualifying process takes lots of hard work and heart so I have come up with a few tips that should be able to give any age group athlete an advantage on their quest for Kona.
1. Talk to your close circle of people
It isn’t going to be an easy feat so you will need as much help as you can get. Before setting out a plan on what race to qualify at etc. you will need to talk to your loved ones and propose to them why you want to go on this journey. If you can get their approval and support it will make the next 12-24 month (or sometimes years) journey much easier. Come up with a plan together and work out where you want to try and qualify. You will be a team from that point forward. Ironman training is demanding when you’re in the thick of it, especially, while working full-time. It’s nice to have a couple of people who are looking out for you and can pick up the slack around the home when you need to catch up on “ironman related activities that are not training” such as; naps, bike maintenance, stretching, eating or going to body maintenance appointments. Let your friends know the reason that can’t make a special event and 9 times out of 10 they will understand. Your loved ones will be affected by your decision to go on this journey so make sure you take the time to listen to any concerns that the may have.
2. Hire a coach that will work around your lifestyle
Good coaches have experience and knowledge in specifically building your training up safely to get you ready for your chosen event. Training can be difficult enough so I don’t see the point in wasting further mental energy on planning your sessions. I am motivated by being accountable to someone and having feedback on certain sessions. It’s even better if you can hire a coach who will plan your training around your lifestyle. There’s no point in paying for a coach if you can only fit in a few of their training sessions around your busy schedule. Success in Ironman is based on consistency and this is what you want to aim for with your coach. You will need to map out your approach to qualifying with your coach and come up with some process-orientated goals. I believe you will be 100% more prepared physically and mentally on race day knowing that a professional in the field has planned the work for you.
3. Pick a race that suits you
If you’re thinking of qualifying for Kona you should know your strengths and weaknesses within the 3 disciplines by now. You want to reduce as many “unknowns” on race-day and select a course that is suited to your strengths. Look at what time of year you want to race and research each Ironman course around that time and select the one that BEST suits you. I find other athlete race reports/blogs to be VERY helpful here as well as the course description on the Ironman website in regards to race conditions. Know your strengths e.g. are you like me and have NO swim background as a child? Possibly, you need a salt-water and wetsuit swim rather than a lake swim so everyone spends less time in the water which will decrease the gap between you and the faster swimmers. Do you suit flat or hilly bike courses? Would you rather race in the heat? You don’t want to be adding any extra stress on race day by throwing in conditions that you know are playing your weaker cards.
4. Race at a regional champs
Age group racing has become so competitive these days and most Ironman races offer 40 qualifying slots which guarantees only one Kona slot per age group. The age groups with the highest percentage of competitors will be allocated the leftover slots and may end up with 2-4 in the densest age groups. At regional champs, there are usually 75 allocated Kona slots so therefore you almost double your chance of qualifying for a slot and double the chance that it might roll down to you. Yes, usually your competition increases at a regional championship but you have to remember that Ironman is a long day and anything is possible if you keep believing and focusing on your race.
5. Ask yourself if you really want to do this
Ironman training is hard. There are lots of fun and rewarding moments along the way but there’s also a lot of times that you will question why you’re doing it. You need to know YOUR why so that you stay disciplined and consistent in getting the work done. Develop a no-excuse policy because no one will do the work for you.
6. Recovery is key
Yes the work needs to be done but keep in mind you still need to be realistic in terms of your recovery and listening to your body. We’ve all stayed up late to finish off a session or set our alarms to some un-holy hour to get the session in before a big day of work. Sometimes we have no option but if our bodies aren’t recovering properly we won’t be getting the benefits from training and will increase our chance of burn-out or injury.
7. Surround yourself with positive people
There are going to be people in your life who are inhibited by fear that will judge you and tell you all the reasons why this is a stupid idea and why you can’t do it. They will be the first ones to say, “I told you so” when you come across your first deviation from the original plan due to injury or any other obstacles. While Ironman is mostly about being consistent in training, you will get so much more out of yourself if you’re in a positive frame of mind. You won’t have much spare time anyway so make sure you spend it with the people who make you feel refreshed after spending time with, make you laugh and celebrate the small things along the journey.
Good luck on your quest to Kona and/or happy training :)
Thanks for reading and I hope you find my tips helpful,
On the weekend of February 7-9, Goondiwindi will host its annual ‘Festival of Hell’, which encompasses the infamous Hell of the West triathlon (a 2km swim, 80km cycle and 20km run), now in its 29th year, and a number of additional complementary events the day prior on what is now known as ‘Super Saturday’. Described as one of Queensland’s most iconic long course triathlon events, HOTW is certainly one for the bucket list if you haven’t dared to attempt it already. Here are five reasons why we love this laid back, local long course race …
1. The diversity
Uber competitive age groupers, professionals and social triathletes - this race attracts them all! Every year, some of Australia’s very best triathletes and a contingent of internationals descend on Goondiwindi to compete side-by-side with locals and amateurs, toughing out the relaxed but competitive long course event in some of the hottest, most challenging conditions of any triathlon in Australia. According to the HOTW president, the prize money on offer isn’t what attracts professional athletes, but the history of this iconic, community-centric race and the desire to ensure its survival in the “very corporate” IRONMAN world of triathlon. If you’re looking for a decent long-course hit out but need a break from the all-consuming M-dot, HOTW is for you!
2. The course
HOT HOT HOT. The Goondiwindi temperature in February (up to 38 degrees) is what sets this race apart. A 2km freshwater swim in the Macintyre River, followed by an 80km (40km out-and-back) flat cycle along the Barwon Highway, topped off with a 20km run back along the river (3 loops - perfect for spectators!), presents athletes with a formidable challenge, undoubtedly enticing to athletes who love to race in the heat. Due to the timing of the event, it’s a great early-year race if you’re ramping up Ironman training or even looking to compete in a team as a warm up for whatever is on the agenda for the rest of the calendar year.
3. The community feel
Nothing beats local hospitality, and Goondiwindi offers it in droves. With an average of 500 competitors, HOTW is big enough to warrant a well-organised and professional event, but still small enough for race morning bike racking! The relaxed and casual approach to this race helps to curb many a pre-race jitter, as do the local volunteers, assisting as ushers, aid station attendants and in a variety of other roles. The location of race transition - in the centre of the town at Goondiwindi Town Park - means the race (racking, transition set-up etc.) is also easily accessible for athletes and equally handy for spectators and supporters (no huge line ups to cross roads for better vantage points etc.). The race attracts a strong and loyal following amongst age groupers, with many competitors embracing the community event and returning to compete on a yearly basis, only adding to the laid-back and familial atmosphere.
4. The weekend “festival”
Recently rebranded as the “Festival of Hell”, events now span the entire weekend, and athletes of all abilities and their families can participate in additional races on ’Super Saturday’ including a 5 or 10km charity run “Gundy Inferno”, an enticer triathlon “The Firestarter” and “Hell Kids” - a kids triathlon open for ages 6-11. These events really encourage more local and family participation, adding to the festive atmosphere and offering the opportunity for an even larger contingent of athletes to descend on Goondiwindi without having to commit themselves to the formidable distances of the iconic HOTW race.
5. Its “feel good” factor
When you participate in local events like HOTW, the impact of both your time and money spent in regional areas like Goondiwindi cannot be overstated. Each year, this event benefits the Goondiwindi Region’s local economy significantly - every dollar spent by athletes on accomodation and local services helps to support the community, which is particularly important during these times of drought. In fact, HOTW is run as a not-for-profit incorporation and donates a significant amount of money back to the local community groups, sporting clubs, schools and charities who volunteer their time over the weekend. What could be better than knowing you are making an impact on a local scale, while doing what you love? Surely, this “feel good factor” will help to keep those mental demons at bay during the last 10K of the run leg… :-P
Good luck to all our awesome T:Zero athletes racing Hell of the West next weekend! Remember to stay hydrated, have fun and give it hell!
“Be consistent in all you do. Consistency over many months and years will allow you to yield the results you want.”
This month we’re shining the spotlight on our coaching team again, featuring our Cairns-based super coach and a stellar athlete in her own right - Coach Mon!
Originally turning to triathlon as a new athletic endeavour after finishing her cricketing career, Monique joined T:Zero as an athlete in 2014 and has been a T:Zero coach for almost 3 years now.
Her favourite thing about the sport, she says is “the discipline it requires”, while her least favourite is washing all the training clothes (we’re with you on this one, Mon!). Her favourite leg is the bike, where she feels she can “get into the groove” and really work her hardest, motivated no doubt by the sweet sounds of Eminem, who dominates her training playlist.
Since her triathlon debut in 2013, Mon has competed in two Ironmans, 11 Ironman 70.3 races and countless sprint and Olympic distance triathlons. All her hard work has recently culminated in her proudest triathlon moment to date - qualifying for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in New Zealand later this year.
From a coach’s perspective, Mon believes the most successful athletes share the attributes of consistency, positivity and understanding that the process is more important than the outcome. We couldn’t agree more!
Outside of triathlon, Coach Mon is a self-confessed “nerd” who loves reading, brain training and doing jigsaw puzzles.
Since becoming a T:Zero athlete or coach, what is the one new belief, behaviour, habit formed or skill honed that has most improved your athletic (or every day or coaching) performance?
It is all about having a growth mindset. I am a very structured and rigid person and I can stumble with change, but I am developing my mindset to enjoy new challenges.
Do you do other training outside the normal swim/bike/run?
Love to MTB. I am an uncoordinated baby giraffe and always fall off but I love the feeling of being free!
What motivates or inspires you to train/race/participate?
Self drive motivates me. I want to see what I can do and I love to know the session has been nailed each and every day. Love the greens in TP (Training Peaks)!
Do you have any tips for athletes struggling to find some motivation or who may have temporarily lost focus?
Go back to your ‘why’. The ‘why’ you are doing triathlon in the first place. There was an initial reason you started, so search back and try and rekindle the passion.
What is your favourite thing about being a T:Zero coach?
I have grown as a coach under the tutelage of Scotty as my mentor. My favourite thing is when an athlete nails a session, or a race and they are so excited. That excitement is contagious and keeps me motivated to give them exciting and challenging sessions.
And one more for good measure (and a big head) …
Why do you love being part of the T:Zero Multisport team?
I love the way it has grown. When I started with Scotty, T:Zero as we know it today did not exist. It has been interesting to watch it grow from a thought to a reality and it has been exciting to be an athlete and a coach with this amazing coaching group and stable of athletes.
Wow – and just like that 2019 is done and dusted!
I hope you’ve all had a great festive season. I’ve been on my off-season since Ironman Cozumel and have really enjoyed the time away from structured training. I’ve been keeping the body moving with some light enjoyable exercise. It’s been nice having more time to catch up with friends and family over the break and do things that I wouldn’t usually do while in training like going to a couple of live music gigs. Off-season is now over though and I’m slowly getting back into consistent training. Getting back into training this year hasn’t been an easy feat. I’m not struggling so much with motivation but more so… (GETTING OLDER haha) now some of you may laugh at me saying this as I’m only 28 years old BUT I feel like my body is trying to tell me I’m getting older haha. I don’t remember feeling so many aches and pains in so many places! I’ve noticed the more I eat well, maintain consistent sleep patterns, wear supportive shoes at work, try to keep on top of massage and rolling the aches and pains go away and it’s easier to get going (hope those tips help you too if you’re feeling like getting started again has left you on struggle street).
It’s been GREAT to have a break and all but I’m ready now to start thinking about and working towards my next goal. Yay! So I would like to share with you what that focus is going to be.
My coach and I sat down to discuss my goals for the up and coming year, recently. As many of you know I have come from a strength background (powerlifting), which has mostly given me an advantage on the bike leg. But Ironman triathlon isn’t all about how big your power file is on the bike but mainly how well you can execute the run after arriving into T2. It’s been apparent in long course racing that I arrive into T2 usually at the top of the female amateur race or at least near the top. And it’s always my run where I am trying to not give too much time away and/or where I get overtaken.
Seeing as my run is letting me down quite a lot we have made a decision to focus on building my run volume over the first third of the year. I’m excited to spend more time running and working my way up to some pretty solid run volume (for me), we’ll aim at trying to build up towards 100km’s of running per week dependant on how my body reacts and adjusts over the block. Obviously, there is a chance of injury here so I have to be 100% aware of my body and communicate with my coach when anything feels out of place so we can move progressively forward.
I would like to take 20 minutes off my marathon time. I really enjoy the challenges of Ironman training and working towards trying to be the best athlete that I can be so I will try and provide myself every opportunity to do so while trying to balance “life.” I’d like to try and execute a marathon that I’m happy with in my home town at Ironman Cairns.
After Ironman Cairns we plan to bring back in higher bike and swim volumes in the lead up to the Ironman World Champs 2020.
I can’t wait to share how the run progress goes over the next few months.
Thanks for reading along
Chat to any group of runners or triathletes and you are sure to uncover some stories about how tendon injuries have interrupted training sessions, derailed race plans or made life generally miserable. We triathletes and multisport athletes are always up for a challenge though so lets plough through this tendon game!
As discussed in my previous post tendons are living tissues. Tendons, are, in fact the attachments of our muscles to our bones. As with any living tissues there is turnover of the cells that make up our tendon tissues and therefore tendons can adapt or maladapt according to the balance of training load and recovery.
Undoubtedly, the most common tendon injuries encountered in the triathlon world are lower limb injuries related to impact loads such as running – full body weight with a large impact factor, repeated hundreds or thousands of times on a run.
The tendons such as the achilles, the high hamstring up in the gluteal region, the patellar tendon at the knee and the peroneals in the outside of the lower leg are the most common sites for tendon related pain.
The jury is still out as to what causes tendon pain, but the most accepted theory right now is that the pain comes from biochemicals that sensitise nerve endings in the tissues in and around the tendons.
But…GREAT news here! The link between actual pathology on imaging and pain is a less likely explanation to pain – even if there is “pathology” on imaging, it doesn’t have to explain your pain or even dictate your outcome.
What to do if you have tendon pain? Well, whilst tendons can be a pain in the butt, or ankle or knee for that matter… you can -
Ah yes, and then lets go back to our exciting triathlon/ multisport world. The juicy stuff – what can I do with my actual swim/ bike/run to potentially help in this tendon game you ask?
Some great ideas to think about are:
As with any progression toward a great race day performance, tackling tendon issues can require a lot of patience and persistence. Luckily these are qualities that are innate to our triathlete and multisport population!!!
So, in the spirit of the determined athlete - climb that mountain, as, in most cases, you are in charge of your own tendon destiny (insert grand theatrical music)!!
Next up, bones and bone health – I’m excited about this one - I think we are going to have an osteoblast, and it will be kinda humerus…ha ha,. Until next time!
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Coach Scotty - Sunshine Coast, Qld
“Successful athletes see the big picture and have a long-term approach to their training and goals. They also generally possess a growth mindset. Rather than seeing setbacks as failures and obstacles as a potential risk, they see them as an opportunity to learn and develop.”
T:Zero co-founder, Director of Coaching and resident qualified nutritionist Coach Scotty has been “officially” involved in triathlon and endurance sports for over 15 years and “unofficially” running his entire life. Making his debut via sprint triathlons in Hervey Bay in the early 000’s, he subsequently discovered his real love for the sport existed after 7+ hours of anything endurance related … aka “when the fun begins!”.
Scotty’s favourite race was Ironman New Zealand 2014 - a day where everything fell into place and he learned how deep he could go and still come out smiling! His favourite leg is the bike, because, as he says, it took him “forever” to get any good at it.
As a coach/dad/pseudo dad, Scotty derives his greatest pride from seeing an athlete achieve their goal - especially when he’s able to be there and see it happen in person. An experience, he says, that is second-to-none.
While he has some big, scary goals for 2020, at the moment, Scotty’s training purely for the love of it, and is motivated daily by the search for new boundaries and facing his fears. He cross trains with some yoga, Brazilian Ju Juitsu, chasing his kids, mountain biking and surfing. Outside the normal swim/bike/run, he dabbles in gardening, home schooling his kids, bee keeping, reading and listening to podcasts.
In lots of ways, Scotty is not your typical triathlete. In his own words, he’s more “laid back than most” and he says that while his process is still “methodical and precise”, he has chosen to do this sport and at the end of the day, “whilst I love it, it doesn’t define me”. His endurance goal for 2020 is to get out there, have as much fun as possible and race something scary and new!
Since becoming a T:Zero coach, what is the one new belief, behaviour, habit formed or skill honed that has most impacted your coaching performance?
As I become more experienced and my skillset has developed in all areas, I think the most valuable thing to come with the experience is the ability to zoom out (when required) and not get too caught up in the weeds. Educating athletes to be able to see things this way, from a global, long term perspective, is key to kicking over those big goals. Let the coach deal with the weeds and get down to the business of nailing the process ;-)
Have you ever had an apparent training or race day “failure” that has set you up for later success?
So many. Huge one for me was Kona 2014 and learning (in hindsight) all about the effects of outside mental stress leading into a big race. In order to nail an A race at that level, stress levels on all fronts need to be nice and low leading in, in order to firstly make it there in one piece and then be fresh enough to have a great performance.
Best piece of advice for someone starting out in the sport? Or best advice you’ve received?
For those starting out: be patient, be consistent and don’t be in too much of a hurry to go straight to full Ironman distance. Play around for a while in the shorter distances and get some decent skin in the game. It takes many years to build true endurance fitness, so be prepared to think in two year blocks as opposed to two months.
Do you have any tips for athletes struggling to find some motivation or who may have temporarily lost focus?
Take a break. If the motivation is not there and you can’t see the big picture, then either you’re heavily fatigued and in need of a rest, or you’re doing it for the wrong reasons. For the most part, motivation will ebb and flow, but you shouldn’t have to be constantly searching for it … the love of it all should be dragging your backside out the door each day. Otherwise, don’t forget the big picture … not every session needs to be all fancy and motivating. The big picture tells us that the real results come from putting together the big blocks of training, rather than the odd magic session.
What is your favourite thing about being a T:Zero coach?
I like when I get to share in the journey of ticking off big goals with an athlete, the same goes for sharing our coaching team’s experiences in training and racing. The joy in the lightbulb moments and breakthroughs is awesome. And sharing it means I get to vicariously relive all these experiences over and over. As well as this, I am constantly having my thoughts and perspectives shaped and challenged by the team environment, effectively making me a more well-rounded coach.
And one more for good measure (and a big head) …
Why do you love being part of the T:Zero Multisport team?
Helping athletes and other coaches to achieve their goals is what it’s all about. I got into coaching because I am drawn to helping others and sharing my knowledge, and the more you help, the more you receive in return. I get so much out of working with athletes and coaches. And I’m a not-so-closet nerd… so the technical side of coaching is always fun too.
At the start of the month I headed over to the other side of the country for Ironman WA and Ironman 70.3 WA. It was a massive weekend and a race that didn’t finish for me until our last T:Zero athlete crossed the finish line in 16 hours, but it was 100% worth every minute. Here are the top 5 take aways from that weekend:
1. Take a bow, Busselton
This was my 7th trip to Busso, and while it is an incredible location, often there is some caveat to the weather. Despite some heavy winds as late as the day before the race, Sunday came and it was a sight for sore eyes. Breathless, glass like conditions out on the water made for some fast swimming, a light breeze (if you wanted to call that) on the bike and moderate temps throughout the run, not only made for fast times but really enjoyable conditions for the athletes. More please Busso!
2. Exercising your strength when the course is consistent
When the course is so as flat as it is at Busso, whether it is for the Ironman or the 70.3, it forces you to play to your strengths. We saw 4 T:Zero athletes reach their AG podiums (3 taking their spot to the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii next year) and while not one of them had it all their own way the entire day, they all pushed the limits with their strengths and benefited greatly from it. We had Andrew Perry clock the top 3 fastest bike splits in all age groups, and Brett Dunstan arrive into T2 leading his age group. We also had Jac Crofton, who was patient on the bike to arrive into T2 just making it inside the top 10, to unleash her strength on the marathon to get on the podium! Pays to play to your strengths!
3. The Flies
They are still there. People walking around on the Sunday with nets covering their entire head, making every single person jealous. Though truth be told, after the first few hours of swatting close to your face every 12-15seconds you really forget you are doing it. Oh Busso.
4. The T:Zero Family is everything to us
We caught up with some of the T:Zero athletes the day before the race at a local café. It was such a wonderful time to meet these incredible humans, listen to their story, wish them the best for the impending date with destiny and share the common bond of being part of this wonderful community that is T:Zero. We had athletes around table from Perth, Melbourne, Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast – such a cool experience to be a part of.
5. When you trust the process, amazing things can happen on debut
There isn’t much greater satisfaction in guiding an athlete to their first Ironman. Coach Stu Hill had that very task with his athlete Jade Pavitt. She was nervous in the days leading into the race, but was a pillar of strength and inspiration throughout the race. Not only did she break 13hours but it was the smile she had from ear to ear seemingly all day. Speaking with Coach Stu about Jade’s prep – and he struggled to find a way to explain how committed she was to the process. “She came to me in a moon boot and a history of multiple injuries. To see her race the way she did – goodness I was so excited. Her prep was so measured. She had a family of four kids, has a lot of balls in the air, but she got on with the job, never complained and committed to the goal. I am so so happy for her”.
Trust the process – it is an incredible journey.
That is the wrap from Ironman WA and Ironman 70.3 WA – Well done to everyone who raced – looking forward to a full line up of races in 2020!
By Head Coach Scotty Farrell.
Jack Johnson wrote a song about Bruce Lee. He changed the word ‘Bruce’ to ‘everyone’. But essentially, the song (called ‘Inaudible Melodies’) was all about how Bruce Lee was moving too fast for the speed of the camera shutters at the time. Imagine being that well practiced the camera couldn’t keep up? Do you think Bruce Lee started out at lightning speed? Or do you think that lightning speed came from years upon years of laying the foundations and building some slick neural patterns ?My guess is the latter.
What’s your point Farrell? I hear you saying.
Well... one of, if not the biggest things I see with athletes is this want to operate in the grey zone. Too fast to be easy, and too slow to be hard. A no mans land if you will, probably where you’ll find yourself during a marathon or Ironman - which is perfect for race day... training, not so much. The hard thing for us athletes, and coaches, is finding that zone of optimal easy endurance. Given, the majority of our training across the years is spent here (~80%), it’s important we get it right, right?
So, how do we nail it and make sure we are operating at a truly easy endurance effort, and not pushing that little bit too far into the grey zone?Without diving into a full blown lecture on ventilatory and lactate thresholds, let’s just say there are two important markers for endurance athletes, VT1/LT1 and VT2/LT2. The first one (your aerobic threshold) is what we want to stay under for the majority of our training and the second (lactate threshold) is a top end marker to base your interval and high intensity work around, and a handy marker to set training zones from. Without going into a science lab, coaches will get you doing some basic field tests/ time trials or analyse race data to determine these markers and set your zones. But there is a pretty easy way to monitor things for yourself and make sure you’re going easy enough, that also correlates really well with the above threshold markers.
The ‘talk test’. As simple as it sounds, if you can maintain a steady conversation whilst training (obviously not in the pool), you are on the money. If you find that you can’t hold a convo whilst ticking along, then you’re probably smoking things out a little bit too hot, and need to cool the jets and slow down until you get things under control. Another way I measure things myself is simply to try breathing through my nose... if I can, I’m zeroed in, if not, I pull on the reigns. I can’t underestimate the value of keeping things easy and ensuring you are training at the right intensity for your easy endurance training.
Time and time again, we say it, the research says it, and yet we still see the want to half wheel things. Dial it back, cool your jets and save some biscuits for when you really need them. Like race day or your high intensity focused sessions.
Try it and see 😉
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Injury time outs ARGH! They seem to pervade the sport of triathlon, ruining race plans, creating DNS’s and sending the consistency of training into a complete shambles! As an athlete when the pain subsides, you are just itching to get back in the game…..
Or imagine another scenario - you have just returned from a glorious offseason of beach time on a tropical island, sipping drinks from cocktail glasses with small umbrellas …. And now with renewed enthusiasm you return back to training….
Or perhaps you are new to the sport, or new to one of the three disciplines of swim bike or run, and ready to tackle your training plan and first race. For example a long time competitive swimmer, moving into triathlons ….
So what do all these scenarios have in common? Apart from likely being periods of high enthusiasm for training, they also represent prime periods for injury risk of the musculoskeletal kind…. the kind of injuries that, as a physio in my former life, had athletes knocking on the door and kept me suitably employed!
So, whilst this blog may not be your first choice read if you are in offseason lounging beside the pool, it is my intention that there are some useful gems that you will glean from your time investment here and it will help you avoid ending up in injury rehab or DNS land.
So please read on - this is TISSUE ADAPTATION 101. Whilst most of us have a decent understanding of improving cardiovascular fitness, often less thought is given to how your tissues, i.e muscles, ligaments, tendons and bones adapt throughout your training and racing cycles.
It is quite often the case that your cardio fitness (also known as a central adaptation) improves well ahead of your biomechanical (or peripheral) adaptations and your tissues just can’t keep up. Hello niggles or worse, hello injury.
What muscles, ligaments, tendons and bone have in common are they are LIVING tissues with a cellular makeup that changes and adapts to stress. The concept of stress and adaptation of tissues is not unlike the concept applied to cardiovascular fitness. For your living tissues to adapt, they must have an appropriate stimulus and then appropriate time to adapt.
Tissues can adapt in both a negative or positive direction. Too little stress and tissues can weaken, resulting in a lower tolerance to stress. For example after a period of detraining or injury, because of the reduced load, there is often a reduced tolerance to physical stress of the tissues.
At the other end of the spectrum, even with some fairly hefty training and resilience in the bank, there is often a breaking point. An upper limit so to speak for athletes - based on their genetic make up or biomechanics/ the way they move. Although this is a topic for another day, never fear, what you think is your upper limit may not necessarily be so and there may be steps you can take to extend this!
So, armed with some introductory knowledge on tissue adaptation, where to from here? For now, the message is that positive adaptations in your tissues are forged through appropriate amounts of training stimulus with appropriate periods of recovery.
Be patient with the plan set by your coach, and train with a measured sense of progression - your living tissues of muscles, bones, tendons and ligaments will thank you.
The reward for your consistency and patience is more glorious runs with friends, ocean swims with mates and bike rides along country roads. Awesome!
Next up, I will delve into the first of our living tissues, our tendons. Well, not because they are first on any priority scale but I know of a few high hammy and Achilles tendons having a party out there… and if you know a few runners or triathletes you probably do too!!
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I’m home now from my 2019 “A Race.” I am so stoked with my race that I thought it would be a good idea for this month’s post to be my Ironman Cozumel race report. It wasn’t all smooth sailing, I made a few mistakes throughout the day but I’m happy to take onboard a few lessons for future racing. I am super happy to come away with an overall time PB, swim PB and Bike PB. I am excited to share with you how my day went over in Cozumel.
I woke up after a really good night of sleep in our little villa and started the morning off with oats for breakfast and a coffee. I felt calm and focused while ticking everything off my pre-race checklist. 5:00 am rolled around pretty quickly and so it was time to leave the villa to pick up the rest of the T:Zero crew (TB, Robbie, Murph, Loz and Crackers) and head to transition 1. We piled into the 8-seater van, then Damo drove us to Chankanaab Beach for T1 check. We agreed on a quick stop, “get in, do your business and meet back at the van.” No one had any major issues with their T1 set up so we were on our way to find the swim start nice and early. Luckily, we were a couple of cars behind a huge Ironman bus so we followed it which took us right to the start of the swim. Although, Damo and a couple of the guys may or may not have had to sweet talk a security officer working on the boom-gate to let us into the Marina. A quick goodbye to Damo then we made ourselves familiar with where we’d need to line up for the rolling start, then we made our way back to the marina for some time to chill.
We found a nice quiet spot right next to a multimillion-dollar boat parked in crystal clear water, which had a huge barracuda swimming off the back. This was a good spot to do some final stretching. I played over in my mind what I’d like the day to look like, I then ate some Clif Bar, put on one last body glide and carefully placed the swim skin on (big shout out to my friend, Jody, for sending me her swim skin - thank you). All of a sudden it was time to drop the morning bags off, have one last toilet stop and head to the swim start. I enjoyed starting the day off surrounded by a group of larrikins, I’ve never laughed so much before a race. We watched the Male Pro and Female Pro races start and then we seeded ourselves into the rolling start. Before I knew it, we’d all said good luck to each other and the group of age group athletes were quickly moving forward through a makeshift doorway and out onto a skinny, light blue, slippery pontoon. I somehow ended up on the rear side of the pontoon so I was trying my hardest not to accidently fall in on the wrong side. Ha-ha. I saw Robbie make a B-line for the very right-hand side and enter the water with a powerful dive so I followed his lead, although I didn’t look as graceful entering the water. Go time!
Swim – 52:37
I took it pretty easy for the first 300m as I couldn’t do a proper warm up. Then a pair of feet came swimming past me which looked to be going at the perfect speed for me to jump on their feet. We swam to the very right of the group which is perfect for me as I breathe on my left. It was quite choppy for the first half of the swim but the water was still clear enough to be able to see the feet in front of me. I stayed with this athletes feet for a couple of kilometers until we got to a section where we had to work our way through a few athletes, this varied our speed and I remember touching his feet for the first time all morning about 4 times in a row. Oops! He did not like that! I got kicked so aggressively (although, I didn’t end up with a black eye like two of my team mates – it was brutal out there) and then sprinted off. I could still see him so I spent the next 500m lengthening my stroke feeling strong to try and jump back on his feet but he seemed to always stay at that illusive 20m ahead until he all of a sudden disappeared.
In the last kilometer I couldn’t really find any suitable feet to sit on so I found a rhythm and was happy swimming by myself. I knew that this swim was always going to be fast with current assistance but I couldn’t believe when I hit turn buoy. Where did the time go? I got to the ladder and tried to pull myself up but my legs went to jelly and I fell back into the water. Ha ha. Up I went on the second attempt. I hit lap on my watch and realised why I swam so fast, the course was about 300m short. Transition went so smoothly apart from nearly missing the female change tent, I ran to where my bike was racked, grabbed it and started heading towards the mount line, thinking, “gee that went a little too smoothly, I hope I didn’t forget anything...”
Bike – 5:01.57
Successful flying mount for the first time using my new Bont cycling shoes and Speed Play pedals which were all clipped in ready for a fast transition. Hmm, so you know how I was saying how comfortable my swim skin from Jody was and how quick my transition felt? Yeah, well, about 1-2km I slid my hand along the outside of my thigh on the way to grab some nutrition out of my rear drink bottle and as soon as my hand hit my outer thigh I realized I still had the swim skin on. I made a quick decision to get off my bike completely, take the swim skin off and stuff it down the front of my tri kit. I didn’t want to throw the swim skin away so it came along for the first lap with me.
The bike lap was made up of 3 x 60km loops. I experienced head winds and slight cross winds on the far side of the island but then on the other side of the island just after going through town there was a hooking tail wind. During the first lap, things seemed to be going to plan, I was approximately pushing the power I needed to, hydrating and eating well and I’d even managed to find a group to legally ride with. At the start of the second lap, I remember thinking how much fun I was having and how fast I was going but the heat really started to pick up this lap and I had to stay focused on nutrition, dodging athletes who were starting their first lap, and hydrating properly.
Halfway through the second lap I made a decision not to stop to collect my special needs because it would have meant losing the group I was with while riding through the head winds (which at 12 meters drafting makes a difference) so I’d decided to drink the on-course hydration/nutrition for the second half of the bike leg. Each time I drank a bottle of the on-course nutrition I would throw up a really pretty pink coloured vomit over my tri bars and top tube. None the less, I was still happy I’d made the decision to stick with the group and knew I had to get calories in so I really focused on consistently eating whatever Clif Bars and Bloks I had left on my bike. Just before coming into town at the end of the second lap, I freewheeled around a corner and at the same time I hit a hole and bumps in the road which threw my chain off. My chain managed to get stuck between my frame and power meter magnet and then it also came off my jockey wheels and locked up between the jockey wheel and its housing. I pulled off into a safe spot, got off the bike, stayed as calm as possible and after a few attempts I managed to get everything running smoothly again.
I’d lost a bit of time to that group so I made the decision to try and ride back up to them, in hindsight, I should have known that this would come back to bite me, especially with already losing nutrition and the day had really started to warm up. After about 10-15km of chasing, I started to cramp really bad. Each time I would cramp I’d have to back right off the pedals, rinse my mouth with Crampfix and eat more calories and the cramp would be relieved and I’d find my groove again. I would go to over-take someone and then I would suffer from a cramp again, I looked like a real jack*ss on the last lap, overtaking people and then slowing right down after making a pass because the sniper was out and he was after my right adductor. I remember hitting lap with 20km to and thinking if I ride no slower than 32.5km/hour I’ll into T2 with a sub 5 hour bike split. I enjoyed having this as a carrot to keep me moving forward. I got to the 180km mark in 4 hours and 58 minutes but I didn’t realise the bike course was a couple of kilometers long. So anyway, I rolled into T2 licking my wounds and a little anxious about the run but at the same time I was really looking forward to using different muscle groups.
Run – 3:51.31
Transition felt like a hot sauna. I sat down to put my shoes on and my adductor locked up a couple more times. I rinsed my mouth out with some CrampFix and then didn’t see any cramps again until the final 10km of the marathon. Coming out of T2 I had a 19 minute lead on 2nd place and realized that I wasn’t feeling great and that the heat was pretty gnarly. I saw Damo at the start of the run and he let me know that it was a super-hot day, I wasn’t going to set any marathon records but if I wasn’t smart I’d be walking the final lap of the run. He advised me to pick a comfortable pace I could hold onto, keep eating and to stay cool. The marathon was made up of 3 loops as well. The first lap I found a pace that felt comfortable and like I could hold that pace all day.
Each aid station I able to chuck ice and cold water over me to bring my core temperature down thanks to the awesome race volunteers. I was eating Clif Bloks every 2km until I got to the 12km mark were I realized that somewhere along the way my second packet had accidentally dropped out of my sports bra. I sort of started to panic a little, very briefly, then I came up with the solution to drink coke and sports drink at each aid station. Once again, the volunteers were great and I didn’t miss a cup.
I got to 16-18km and just felt like I wasn’t getting enough calories in and that I was drinking too much liquid so I tried one of the on-course gels. It was weird and made my stomach feel weird so I avoided them and stuck to coke only until I got to the 22km mark where my special needs bag was waiting for me with 2 more packets of Sodium Clif Bloks and a few more CrampFix sachets. I felt instant relief and was feeling confident that I’d make it to the finish without walking. Second place had put 3 minutes into me in the first lap and then another 3 minutes again on the second lap so we seemed to be slowing at the same rate, even though she was running faster than me.
I started out on the 3rd lap trying to do some calculations. I ran past Damo who let me know that I could secure the win if I just kept moving forward, no plodding along and no walking. I left for my last lap feeling super determined to lock my pace in and not slow down. I also know that anything is possible in an Ironman so I was running pretty scared for that final lap with my head down incase 2nd place had a miraculous last 10km. I suffered from a cramp at the 30km mark, right before an aid station so I rinsed my mouth with a CrampFix, walked through the aid station grabbed two cups of coke and drenched myself in ice cold water, the cramp stopped and I was right to go again. This happened again at the 34km and 38km mark. It was relieving to know with a rinse of CrampFix and intake of more calories that my cramp would be temporarily relieved. I didn’t know where second place was so I didn’t waste any time down the finish chute. I was so relieved and happy when I reached that finish line simply because I knew I’d given it everything I had all day.
Post-race (Overall time – 9:51.46) - 1ST F25-29
I’d never been this sore after a race before, I was worse than after my first Ironman. I hopped into the ice bath in recovery and my calf locked up. It was sooo painful I let out a huge yell. None of the Mexican volunteers knew what to do (poor things) but another fellow athlete grabbed my foot and pulled my toes towards my shin which seemed to do the trick. It was a team effort to get me out of this baby pool. Ha ha. It was pretty funny trying to walk around, I waddled through recovery, found Damo waiting at the end. He let me know of my position which was pretty rad to find out that I’d won the F 25-29 AG and secured my spot to Kona 2020!
Damo put me in a taxi to get me home not long after I’d finished as I was shivering and in a lot of pain. I would have rather do another Ironman again with fresh legs than to have to bend my legs to get into a taxi after the race. Ha ha.
The next day I was so hungry when I woke up so I suggested to Damo that I ride into town and he meet me there so we could get Subway for breakfast. About 7 hours later he ended up with the start of some pretty severe salmonella. He stayed at home for presentations and roll down. After getting home, I realized he wasn’t getting any better that night. We decided to drive him to the nearest hospital at 11pm. The staff at the Cozumel General Hospital couldn’t have been more helpful and caring. We were super lucky to have Damo’s sister there who could speak fluent Spanish to the Doctors and Nursing staff. After spending the night in hospital and recovering the next day we were finally able to celebrate with a scuba dive and a few sunset drinks with new friends on our final day in Cozumel. I’m now looking forward to some down time before we start building for next year’s season.
Thank you to “Team Ash”
To set a goal, work towards it and then actually achieve it is a pretty surreal feeling. There is no way I would have been able to have the race that I did without the help from many. Here are just a few people that helped along the journey that I am incredibly grateful for:
My Coach, Richard Thompson – thank you for always believing in me, also, for your incredible balancing skills between the art and science of coaching. I am truly lucky to have you guiding me through this journey.
My swim coach - Coach Lise - Firstly, thanks for creating the best environment to train in! I am very grateful to be under your watchful eye in the pool, its pretty rad to think how far we’ve come in the last 2.5 years since I started swimming with you. Thanks for showing me how to believe in myself among many other things.
Race Day Support – Thank you to the Collins family (Brad, Cristina, Alana and Damo), Leanne & Richard Crack and Wil Delfin for coming all the way to Cozumel to support me. It was pretty special to see you on the sidelines.
My Cycling training buddies – Thank you to Erik Dodwell, Brendan Cooper (aka Coops) and Peter Westrup (aka Crabs) for riding with me over the last 6 months. I still look back at some of the rides we did and think that we’re slightly crazy. Haha! I always felt stronger and safer knowing I had you with me. I want to also say a big thank you to each of your families for allowing you to be out helping me which no doubt was taking up valuable family time. I am very grateful for you legends!
To my local school communities – Thank you to Chancellor State College, Beerwah State High School and EPC Relief Teaching for always supporting me and trying to work around my training schedule as best as possible. To all the lovely staff who I admire so much thank you for your support and kindness.
To my friends and family – I have missed birthdays (sorry Harry for your 18th) and many other important events or I’ve shown up after a long day of training and haven’t completely been there. I thank you for being patient and allowing me to do what I love. Looking forward to catching up over off season!
Innovation Podiatry – Thank you for keeping my body in one piece over the last 6 months, Ness. I feel so lucky to have found someone as passionate, knowledgeable and experienced as you are.
Andrew Duff at Sports and Spinal Physio– thanks for all your time and effort at the start of the season getting me injury free.
My parents and older bro – for always being up for a chat on the phone whether it was a call because I’d be feeling tired, down or anxious and I just needed to speak to you or simply just a phone call to share my day or week of training with you because I know you would listen. Thanks for always being there and for your support.
My supporters & Sponsors for making it possible to spend more hours training and less hours at work, thank you for everything you do:
My brother Jordan, kudos to you for living with two Ironman triathletes. Thank you for everything you do for us. I have treasured our time living together again.
Last but not least, my partner Damien Collins – thank you Damo for being my rock throughout this journey, picking up the slack around home when I couldn’t and always listening to me ramble on about my training. Love you heaps!
I look forward to sharing next year’s build with you towards my 2020 Ironman World Championship and 70.3 World Championship campaign.
Thanks for following along,
This weekend marks the 16th year of Ironman Western Australia. Held just south of Perth in the seaside town of Busselton (or “Busso” as it’s affectionately known) against the iconic backdrop of the town’s famous jetty (fun fact: the longest timber-piled pier in the southern hemisphere!), there are few Ironman races found in more idyllic locations. There are so many reasons this race should be on your bucket list if you haven’t ticked it off already, but here are our top five …
1. The town
Busselton itself is a picturesque little seaside town, of which its residents wholeheartedly embrace the Ironman event year after year. And what an appealing factor this is! Big enough to have everything you need, yet small enough to establish familiarity quickly and get around with ease, Busso is the kind of host-town that athletes dream of. Must-do’s include pre-race practice swims at the jetty foreshore in Geographe Bay, breakfast at The Goose and a coffee at Fat Duck Cycles & Espresso!
2. The swim
Prior to 2018, the swim course took athletes on a 3.8km jaunt around the jetty, however a “too-close-for-comfort” shark sighting during the 2017 event led race organisers to revise the course which is now 2-loops, closer to the shore. While the “cool factor” of the swim leg may have suffered a blow (and sharks aside), the swim is still hands-down one of the most stunning that athletes will ever experience. Crystal clear turquoise waters with views straight to the ocean floor, you’ll be hard-pressed to find better. The new course also has the added benefit of more protection and more favourable conditions in the bay.
3. The bike + run course & conditions (generally…)
Ironman Cairns in December would 100% be a no-go. But Busselton in December? The weather conditions are generally perfection, if a little on the cool side. A wetsuit swim and mostly sunny but cool conditions on the bike and run will serve most athletes well, provided strong winds stay at bay. The race is renowned for being one of the flattest and fastest around, guaranteed to help foster a PB performance or two! The two-lap bike route along coastline and through bushland provides the perfect combination of distraction and protection, and the four-lap run course along the waterfront and through the crowds of support crew and friendly locals serves as both a source of motivation and a simple way to break the marathon down into four mentally-manageable stages.
4. The flies …
Okay, so this one is a bit tongue in cheek (and may prompt a smirk or two from those in the know who’ve been there before), but you won’t find a better motivator (or bigger annoyance) on the run leg than the thousands of incredibly persistent, sticky little flies that flock to Busso to lend their support to athletes on race day. While this kind of fly torture may not be appealing to everyone, their presence sure does serve to speed up even the slowest shuffle on Lap 4 of the run. Prepare yourself. You’ve been warned.
5. Its proximity to additional perks!
Wine tasting, anyone? When race day has been and gone and all is said and done, there’s nothing like celebrating all your hard efforts and months of training than with a few days of rest and relaxation in the Margaret River wine region. Busselton itself is a gem, but drive just 30 minutes south and you’ll find yourself in one of the world’s best wine regions too. Stay, play and unwind if you can find some time - and enjoy all the perks of a slower pace on the west side!
Good luck to all our awesome T:Zero athletes racing this weekend - Australia’s last Ironman event of the year! And athletes don’t forget to catch up with Coach Rich and the rest of the crew for pre-race coffee and chats at Fat Duck Cycles & Espresso on November 30 at 8am!
With Head Coach Em Quinn
As a coach of any sporting code, the job requires a close relationship to be formed with an individual athlete and the guidance and goal setting process to help the individual achieve what he/she is seeking. Daily my role as a Head Coach within T:Zero Multisport has me continually working closely with my athletes by providing them with periodised, structured and diverse training plans to help them see the desired goal or outcome. I sit in the office for 3 days per week (plus often some nights when big racing weeks roll around) sifting through training plans, programming and making my way through emails all in the pursuit to bring out the very best in those I help.
Recently an athlete of mine ticked off her second “A” race for the 2019 year. It was a cracker, one of those days where things just come together across all three disciplines and the stars align, one of those rare days which we often only stumble across every now and again, but when we do, they are ever so sweet. Following this race and some planned active recovery weeks (those whom I coach will know I am a big fan of some active recovery sessions and unplugging a little post big events) I received an email from this athlete which outlined her next set of 2019/2020 triathlon goals. I opened the email with excitement as I get such a buzz from seeing what athletes set out to achieve within the sport but also within themselves. The first line of the email read “so….I know I will never be a champion in this sport or a podium contender BUT here are my goals and thoughts for the year ahead”. At the time, I continued reading the email, I got motivated and excited by the A, B and C goals that the athlete had in mind and replied with a lose agenda and of course scheduling a meeting where we can sit down and discuss the ins and outs of what it will take to get to where the athlete intended to be. However, that night, as I sat awake for several hours (the nightly grind with a newborn) I thought to myself, what does this world “champion” even mean? On the surface, some may say in the context of triathlon that a “champion” are those elite professionals, those who swim, bike and run for a day job and those who are successful enough to make a living from this all-consuming sport that we all seem to love so much. Others may say to a mate “you champion” for gaining world championship selection, for hitting a new personal best or for simply finishing an endurance event that once may have been a pipeline dream.
As a coach, of many athletes of varying abilities, goals and physical limits, I sat awake that night thinking of a way I could define “champion”. For me, I feel the definition is far more a mental one than a physical one. Of course, the fast 5km, the new PB’s, the World Championship Qualifications or the multiple Ironman finishes are impressive achievements and I am the first to feel immense satisfaction and pride when an athlete and I achieve one of these accolades, but do I feel these assets are individual qualities which define a person, the answer is no. For me the word “champion” means much more than results on paper or medals hanging in the garage. I think that an athlete who has a “champion mindset” is just as much of an achiever as those who swim, bike and run their way to the top level of this sport. By this, I mean, those individuals who strive to better themselves day in and day out, those who give 110% in training and in racing, even when at times it may seem like an impossible task. Those who seek to tackle the impossible and take each training session as an opportunity not only to better their physiological capacities but also to gain an insight and a continued love into the sport of triathlon. I, personally get just as much motivation and enthusiasm to create a plan for an athlete who is driven, process as well as performance orientated and brings with them a growth mindset (by this I mean viewing a setback or a weaker result as an opportunity to learn and grow rather than a failure). If you portray all of these qualities and have a genuine passion for the sport, then I believe that is a much more meaningful definition of a “champion” than simply a pen to paper result, which may appear on the surface like a success.
With the start of a new decade only a matter of weeks away, I ask you to question your mindset as you plan and set you goals for the season ahead. Seek the very best in yourself and strive to develop a love and genuine passion for the sport. Promise to be the best you can be, to learn, grown and develop as the highs and lows of the season occur (and they both will occur – prepare for them), I have no doubt that if you employ these tiny increments of positive mindset applications into your daily training, you’ll have an unbeatable season and without a doubt, enjoy the journey a lot more.
I cannot wait for 2020 and I am so excited by the goals and plans ahead for my team and the T:Zero Multisport crew. If you are striving for that next level in your performance (as an athlete and as a person) or simply feel as though your performance has plateaued, or that your love and passion for the sport has dwindled, then I challenge you take a step back and question your mindset, you never know where it could take you.
Until next time,
Head Coach T:Zero Multisport
Click here to find out more about what makes Em Quinn a champion coach!
Leading into a race, especially race week, can be fairly stressful. With travel, accommodation, check in times for the race, remembering to eat & drink, plus, ya know, all that nervous energy and thoughts around the race… the list can get on the large side of things. And if that race happens to be an ‘A Race’ that you have been training all year for, little things can sometimes become big things. Pre race nerves/excitement are completely normal, and part of the journey, plus it shows you care right? There’s a line somewhere in there though, and if we cross that line and the stress of it all becomes a bit much, then this can most definitely take the edge off laying down the performance you are capable of, and deserve.
We know that stress comes in many forms. The usual stressors we generally consider might be:
We’re human, we stress about stuff, and we need a certain amount of it to grow, learn, adapt etc. But during race week, we should be aiming for less manic and more Fonzie (millennials might want to open Google here). Not necessarily all zen like or anything, but if there’s one week where we have enough to ponder without sweating the stuff we have complete control over, it’s race week.
In a nutshell, the more decisions you have to make, especially during race week, the higher the stress levels and the less your chances are of having that top shelf performance you are searching for. The less decisions and therefore lower levels of stress onboard, the more you are able to relax, bank the brain biscuits, and cruise through to race day. You’re going to smile a heap more and enjoy the whole experience just that little bit more too. And…. the clincher, you’re going to increase your chances of keeping the tank of stress hormones full, to be used when you really need them most… making on the spot, basic and complex decisions during the race.
What are some things one could do to help keep the amount of decisions being made and subsequent stress levels at bay during race week you ask? Great question… let’s dive in.
Get uber organised - capital U… Uber:
Thinking ahead and getting stuff sorted as early as you can is down right performance enhancing.
Do your research:
Like researching the local cuisine if you’re heading overseas, perhaps a little homework about the local area will help too, Google is a great friend for this.
The actual race: this goes without saying really, but read and re-read the course description, ask your coach about it, learn the particulars about the terrain, the surface, the weather etc. With my background in Outdoor rec/guiding, planning for the worst is a bit of a debbie downer way to approach some things, but when it comes to being prepared mentally for what might happen, if you know all this stuff well in advance, it won’t be such a blow to the system because the decisions have already been made in your head.
Other stuff like visas, currency, culture/customs, spare gear etc. The list goes on.
To sum it up. Race week is something we should hit feeling ready in all areas, especially in terms of the things within our control. Arrive at your race feeling fresh, organised, and happy, with all the big decisions you have within your realm of control, doneski.
Arrive at your A Race, with the goal of enjoying the experience, and giving yourself every opportunity you possibly can of having the best possible performance on race day - physically, and mentally. Of course, training for ultra distance events where there are many hours/days/nights out there in the elements and a bunch of technical aspects to it as well, things are going to happen, it’s a given. But if you’ve arrived and had an enjoyable, low stress, low decision making week leading in, the decisions you make while you’re deep into your race, will happen faster and with greater accuracy. Decision fatigue is real… save the brain biscuits for race day ;-)
Now, the most important decision I will make today... should I have Nana Betty’s tomato relish or the mango chutney on my poached eggs? My brain hurts ;-)
#tzeromultisport #savethebrainbiscuits #decisionsdecisions #nanabettywins
CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT HEAD COACH SCOTTY FARRELL
FORM goggles – a new technology in the swim market and one that truly hit the ground running at Kona this year. Triathletes are known for their eagerness to embrace new technology and these goggles created such a buzz in Kona that they were sold out before the scheduled expo end!
So many OMG moments as athletes tested them for the first time! Quite a few pros and the FORM staff tested them out open water swimming in the bay.
What are they?
Essentially goggles with an LED display within the goggle to give real time feedback on a whole variety of data that may be important to you such as:
Distance per stroke
Yes - you can see what you want to see on the screen inside the goggle!
I mulled over the decision to buy these. At $150 USD a pair even on a discount, it is an expensive set of goggles that are under warranty for a year and require replacement once they are done.
But if you consider in triathlon, your spend on coaching, bikes, wearable technology, race entries and running gear, it is a very small investment for potential benefits. Cost benefit analysis pre purchase got the big tick and along with having the innate personality of an experimenter/ nerd, I dived in a bought a pair.
The goggles come in a very sturdy case and getting the inside scoop from the FORM staff themselves, these goggles are meant to be treated with the same care as a pair of glasses. The case comes with various nosepiece attachments from XS to XL and I found the best comfort with the small option.
Nosebridge attached, I was ready to test out. But first I needed to charge the goggles first! Charging is super easy with the included charger that is magnetized to attach to the charging ports on the outside of the goggle with a USB attachment at the other end.
Next up, I needed to download the FORM goggles app. So a little bit of technology required before my first swim! After downloading this, I followed the in-app instructions to set up my profile and sync with the goggles. There is also an option for the LED screen to be on the left or right side.
The goggles have two buttons on the screen side that allow navigation of options after you turn them on. There is a split screen so the chosen options of data from the app were displayed . You can decide on your options before you start but the goggles will also continue to collect data that is not displayed like distance, calories and splits.
When I was ready to swim, I needed to confirm some options by pressing the buttons on the goggle:
25 or 50 m pool
Drills, lap or interval swim
I pressed start then I swam my workout just like normal – except that I could actually see how fast I was swimming in real time and without ever looking at the pace clock!
After the workout, I kept the goggles turned on, resynced my goggles to the app and then I was able to pull up the stats from my swim. Great! I ended up with some very useable data and also had the option to upload this to Training Peaks – a brilliant option for both athlete and coach!
I know from chatting in Kona to the FORM staff, that there is also an option now to attach a Polar HR attachment so you can receive HR data whilst you are swimming. I think this would also be useful in helping to track training stress via HR in addition to pace. Possible analysis here could include looking at HR to pace metrics and decoupling in steady state swims.
The display is actually quite clear in the pool. It wasn’t particularly sunny when I tested – but there is a brightness option that can be changed. But even though they were successfully used in OWS in Kona, these goggles have been designed as pool goggles. A specific OWS pair is under development.
As for the potential for “LED depression” from always having that data in front of you, I found it actually quite easy to move back and forward between reading the screen or not. This just requires a slight change of focus. The data is there when you need it and you can “leave it be” until you need it/ want it.
There is a different view from these goggles than from my regular OWS goggles. Less peripheral vision here in the FORM goggles but theoretically unless you were actually allowed to race in these in the pool, you won’t miss it as the lane’s black line is clearly in sight!
As for potential effectiveness of use, these are a pretty handy tool to have in your swimming arsenal. Whilst I would not personally use these in every session, I could use them for any set where I wanted to be consistently on target times – aerobic intervals, speedwork, or key workouts leading into races.
Also these are great for technique work and seeing the impact of technique changes on pace. CSS swim tests would no longer require someone to time you and you could also test to see the impact of SR changes on pace.
On the data analysis side, there is enough meaningful data recorded to analyse how well you executed your swim and where improvements could be made – split times, SWOLF scores, SR and overall distance.
Add to this the potential analysis of HR data and things become even better from a training prescription and analysis standpoint – I could envisage setting up training zones via lactate analysis, doing a block of training and having the pace/ HR data to track progress in fitness.
Overall a big thumbs up for the investment!
Click here to know more about Coach Heidi!
An amazing collection of training and racing advice from the T:Zero Multisport coaches- with the occasional guest blogger! Read this blog to help you live your potential!