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!
I’m Ashleigh Hunter AKA Ash Hunter, a long course amateur athlete (currently in the F25-29 Age Group). I started this sport back in 2015 coming from a powerlifting and team sports (soccer & touch football) background. I went over to the Big Island of Hawaii to spectate the 2014 Ironman World Championships which is where I became inspired to start triathlon. How could I not gain inspiration through watching my partner, Damien Collins place 4th in his AG and Mirinda Carfrae take out 1st female?
I started with T:Zero Multisport in April of 2016. In the 3.5 years I’ve been coached by Richard Thompson we’ve been able to achieve some pretty cool things in this sport; AG Ironman and Ironman 70.3 champion, Ironman Asia Pacific AG champion and 16th place in my AG at Kona. Looking forward, I’ve set a goal to have a crack at qualifying for the 2020 Ironman World Championships and then race to my potential back on the Big Island.
I have been asked to share my journey with you by posting a blog once a month. This makes me feel pretty uhhh… vulnerable but I am also really excited to be open with you and share some of the ups and downs of what’s to come. Even if it is just my Dad following along ha ha. So I thought my first blog post should be about why I have chosen Ironman Cozumel as my “A Race” for 2019.
Why I Chose Ironman Cozumel
Some of you are probably wondering why on Earth I would travel all the way to Mexico for an Ironman considering; I’m an age grouper, it’s such a long way to travel and Busselton Ironman is on at the same time on year… in my own country.
Well, here are my reasons for choosing to race abroad for the 2019 Ironman Cozumel
Race-cation / World Class Travel Destination
The biggest attraction for me, travelling ALL the way to Cozumel for an Ironman is being able to add on a small holiday after the race in a bucket list destination. Cozumel is a world premiere diving destination, with the second largest barrier reef in the world. Not too far from Cozumel are beautiful underwater caves (cenotes) that I plan on visiting after the race also. I grew up very close to the largest barrier reef in the world and have been scuba diving for the last 14 years now. I am pumped for a little holiday after the race to wind down the year with my partner, friends and family.
After sitting down with the coach back in April we looked at the ideal time for me to build up and be ready to race an Ironman again. It looked as though November-December would be the best time considering minor injuries and sickness that seemed to be hindering my prep at the start of the year. So looking at that time frame I had a few options to ponder on… Busselton, Malaysia, Arizona or Cozumel? Considering Busselton is in Australia it’s still quite a resourceful trip and it’s still about a 12 hour travel day so why not go somewhere I haven’t been before??? Malaysia looked to be a good option and then I heard about the MONKEYS on the bike course. Apparently they run out at people and you’re not allowed to get off your bike to help other competitors if they crash (because the monkeys will attack you)… I’ve already come off my bike during a race overseas so I didn’t think that would be a good option... been there done that. That left me with the choice of Arizona or Cozumel…. They are both so far away! Then I got word that 5 other training buddies were also racing Cozumel AND Damo (my partner) could potentially be racing there too so… DECISION MADE! Let’s go to Cozumel.
Travel with Friends and Family
After breaking the news to family that Kona isn’t on the cards for this year there was actually a lot of relief as we’ve been there a few times now, 3 times for Damo when he raced AG and once for me. There’s nothing better in life than to be surrounded by people who make you feel good. I am so excited to go on an awesome adventure with Damo, training buddies, Damo’s family and a couple of family friends who are coming over to support us. I really want to put in a good prep and perform well to do the family and friends proud who are travelling across the world to support us.
The course looks great for me, being a slower swimmer, it is a current assisted swim so the less time in the water, the better. The bike course includes 3 laps around the island which looks to be a flat fast course. I love nothing more than buckling into TT position on my trusty old steed and testing the mind in that last 60km of the Ironman bike. The run course is 3 flat loops also. This will be a massive booster as I’ll have plenty of opportunities to see the people who are special to me out on course as well as on the sidelines. It reminds me of my “why” to help get through those tough times during the marathon.
Increased Experience Racing in the Heat
As mentioned earlier I want to go back to the Ironman Hawaiian World Championships and this will be a great experience to practise racing an Ironman in the heat and humidity again. I will be taking in everything that the race and travel experience has to offer.
Thanks for reading my decisions behind choosing Ironman Cozumel as my “A race” for 2019. I am really excited for the rest of this preparation because we still have so much time to develop fitness and strength over the next 14 weeks! I’ve made a couple of lifestyle changes to allow myself a better opportunity to recover from training sessions and to have more time to focus on this prep. I can’t wait to share with you my journey over the next 14 weeks and beyond.
Thanks for reading! I can't wait to give you an insight into my little world each month!
Ash Hunter is sponsored by 17 Hour Triathlon Clothing, CLIF Bar, Brooks Running Australia & CrampFix and supported by T:Zero Multisport, Di's Fitness and Massage & Cyclezone Mooloolaba.
You can follow Ash's journey here:
In this age of social media and unlimited information at our fingertips at all times it’s no wonder we are often distracted. Whether that be due to the smartphones, someone posting on FB, emails or merely thinking about the nights plans. How many times have you started a training session fully committed, only to get to the end and wonder what happened in the last 30min or seeing the lap data below what was prescribed. We can say that it’s human, we’re busy or even multi-tasking, but at the end of the day, if we’re not completely focused the session is only partly successful. Forget PEDs, forget motors in the bike, a clear way to improve yourself as an athlete is to go all in on each training session.
As coaches, each session has been specifically designed for you the athlete, at that time, for a reason. And to truly get the most out of these sessions all other non specific thoughts and distractions need to be removed. I know in my program I can have any number of combinations of pace, power, HR and cadence requirements to be focused on. I’m not immune and I do find myself occasionally drifting out of focus and thinking about other issues which can lead to a completed session in time only, which will not bring out my best come race day.
To assist with this I have used a number of techniques both before and during the session which may help if you are in the same situation.
At this point, like any time during the day, your mind may start to wander and it’s up to you to bring that focus back to the task at hand. This can be done in any way you like.
These are just a few simple tricks that may help you nail each session as it was designed. Get at it team!
Want to know more about Coach Steve? - Click here to find more about him
“How long are you going to wait before you demand the best for yourself?” - Epictetus
You’ve heard it before… we speak about it often. Some of the underlying pillars of T:Zero’s ethos is that we train smart, we are uber consistent, we trust the process, we support each other no matter what our experience or current ability and we go about our business with little fuss and zero ego. Sure, a little confidence doesn’t go astray... you have to believe in yourself and a positive, confident outlook goes a long way to dispelling nerves and enhancing performance… but we ain’t brash about it.
Letting go and not being concerned with what everyone else around you thinks is a mighty hard task. Zen Buddhists spend their whole existence trying to attain true enlightenment and still, I imagine, have trouble not being sucked into the realms of our consumer / ego driven society. For me, it’s a work in progress, I’m not sure whether it was a coming of age thing or a becoming a father thing, but all of a sudden in life, and I’m sure this happens to everyone at some point in time, we realise most of what we work for and are driven to want or have, really doesn’t matter all that much. You know the term ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ right!?
What matters most is ‘how much you live, how much you give and how much you love’. This doesn’t mean you need to sell everything, buy a combi van and start growing your own veggies (although growing stuff is pretty cool). It simply means, the search for happiness and contentment, doesn’t lie within attaining stuff. It’s in the relationships, the moments, the breakthroughs and the experiences we have and share with each other. It’s also about being the best person you can possibly be. Sure, you’re already awesome, but there’s no harm in trying to be a little better and give a little more each day right!?
I’ll get back on track... today I’m here to lay down a challenge for you, should you choose to jump on board. My challenge is this: let go a little. Get rid of Strava and stop comparing yourself to others so much- you know you do it far too much. As our coaches have said many a time, focus on the session in front of you and that square metre surrounding you. That’s the one you can control and that’s the one you can improve. Little by little, session by session, add the layers on and do what is necessary to improve you. The sooner you stop comparing and start focusing on you and controlling your space, the sooner those breakthrough moments will happen. Whether in a single training session or your next race… bring your focus back to you and stay present in the moment. It works!
“Because most of what we say and do is not essential. If you can eliminate it, you will have more time and more tranquility. Ask yourself at every moment, ‘Is this necessary?’” - Marcus Aurelius
Want to know more about Head Coach Scott Farrell? - Check here to find more about him
It certainly is special preparing for a race where long haul travel is required. Don’t get me wrong, it is very convenient when you can sleep in your own bed the night before race day. But there is something very cool about packing your bags and flying to some exotic location for your date with destiny.
There is a myriad of things that will influence whether it has been a good or not so good experience travelling to a race. While you must accept the things that are out of your control, it is crucial to make everything that is in your control work in your favour.
So here are my top 10 tips when travelling to a race -
1. Be organized – being stressed is inexcusable. Race week you want to be as carefree and stress free as possible, so pack your bags and your bike carefully and with great care at least 24 hours before you are due to leave for the race.
2. No heavy training before – As your body recovers from the rigors of a training session – being cooped up in a car or on a plane for hours on end is not ideal – so limit the exercise you do the morning of your travel as much as you can. In a perfect world you would have the morning off or have a light jog when you first get up.
3. Take two drink bottles – Drink to thirst but be prepared to drink. With so much going on when travelling to a race, staying hydrated is often not a high priority. If you are travelling by plane, the cabin is held at around 20% humidity which reduces the sensation of being thirty even more. Finally, when the trolley comes around – makes sure you say ‘can I please have two waters’. Avoid juice or soft drink as they will not help your body get over the travel.
4. BYO Food – Plane food (or for that matter servo food) polarizes people, but the reality is once you are eating the supplied food - you lose control of what goes into your body. The food as served is highly processed, high in salt and extremely carb based – a perfect list of what you are trying to avoid when your body is already going through the stress of travel. Pack your own lunchbox – make sure there are lots of good food choices and that it will be enough to get through the flight so you aren’t tempted. It isn’t glamorous but you won’t regret it and plus - the glamour will come on race day!
5. Move! Whether you are stuck in a car or a plane, move around every 60-90mins. Hip flexors are the biggest thing that suffer from sitting in one position for any length of time – so be sure you stretch them out, do lunges, squats and even a downward dog or two! Swallow the pride and be the person that is always out of the seat – your body will thank you the next day.
6. Compression – To ensure blood flow is encouraged throughout the time you are sitting – this is the ideal time for the compression socks to come out. Ideally get your hands on the hospital grade TEDs to throw on once airborne. If you don’t have a contact in the health system, your brand name sporting compression socks will suffice.
7. Avoid sleeping pills – This might seem obvious but the amount of athletes that desperately want to sleep on the plane vs keeping your body chemical free may surprise you. You have trained months for this race, do not jeopardize it with pills.
8. Once you arrive, you have only just begun - You have followed the above and done some great work in the car or on the plane to minimize the impact of the travel and you have arrived at your destination – now the real work begins. Get into your exercise gear and go for a gentle walk followed by hydration and a gentle stretch and if you can, get into some NORMATEC Recovery Boots. Then find a place to eat wholesome food with salad and vegies included.
9. Changed time zones – If crossing time zones and you find yourself feeling sleepy at 9:30am then this is the plan – When you feel the most tired, get out to a park or somewhere where there is lots of greenery and do your training session in the sun (without sunglasses mind you)– this will help shift the body to the time change. Don’t worry too much about your data/pace/speed etc – just get the session done.
10. Time for bed – It has been a big day of travel and its getting time for bed – 30mins before you are wanting to be pushing up ‘z’s’ turn off all tvs, phones, laptops etc – by removing screen stimulus you are more likely to have a better quality of sleep – and that is the name of the game on race week. Once you wake up the next morning, get stuck into your usual routine as if you were home – do not try any new things this close to the race.
To know more about Coach Richard Thompson - check him out here
It gives us great joy to announce that from 2019 through to 2021, T:Zero’s major sponsors will be Ener-C SPORT (a new player on the electrolyte market) and our long term partner Zen Sport Spray.
The partnership will see the T:zero athletes have a much greater access to these exceptional products as well as incredible giveaways, competitions and providing support for a T:Zero ambassador program (more on that soon!)
We asked Head Coach Richard Thompson about what both brands mean to him in the context of using both products extensively in preparation and racing the Ultraman World Championship last year:
I started using ENER-C Sport in the final few months of training for the 2018 Ultraman World Championships. My experience with other electrolyte supplements in the past had been less than enjoyable. Whether it was the high level of sugar, artificial ingredients or simply the taste – the other products have not put me in the best possible position to achieve excellence whilst training and racing. ENER-C Sport was everything I needed. All natural, low sugar and a taste that you could never get tired of, it ticked all the boxes. On top of that, and importantly, it is packed full of all the necessary electrolytes and minerals to ensure I was rehydrated and supported the best way possible. We relied heavily on ENER-C Sport through the three days of racing in Hawaii too and it was because of ENER-C Sport that not once did I cramp or have any gut or dehydration issues! To take on something as massive as the Ultraman World Championships, in an environment like Hawaii where you are running a double marathon on the final day, alongside lava fields in 35 degree heat, you need to ensure that across the board you have the very best products on the market.
ZEN SPORT SPRAY
The Ultraman World Championships is the pinnacle of ultra-endurance triathlon. Regardless of your condition, and without your consent, it will rip you apart and show you exactly who you really are. Training for such an event is not easy. Every day you are continually pushing yourself to see how much you can endure without breaking, without picking up an injury along the way. In the past I have been guilty of only turning to the use of liniments when I became injured. For this campaign I turned to Zen Sports Spray as part of my daily routine. I would use it before and after training sessions as well as giving it to my masseuse to use during all massages. It was because of Zen Sport Spray that I was able to handle so much more training than I had first thought possible.
For more information on ENER-C SPORT visit – www.enerc.com.au
For more information on ZEN SPORTS SPRAY visit – www.zenpainrelief.com.au
By Coach Stuart Hill
“If you want something you’ve never had, they you’ve got to do something you’ve never done”.
I had just finished my first ever 2 hour swimming squad. Managing to extricate myself from the pool, I’m now lying on the floor of the communal shower dizzy and nauseated. Gazing up I can see some of the other squad members squirting water at each other from their water bottles. They glance down and ask if I’m OK. Lying, I say yes. How could these kids be so strong? Would I be back next week?
Fast forward 30 years and I’ve just swum 10kms at Ultraman Australia. No dizziness or nausea as I exit the water. I run up the beach to my waiting bike feeling relaxed and in control. I can’t wait to navigate the Sunshine Coast Hinterland for the next 140kms on my TT bike. On paper it’s taken me 30 years to progress from the shower floor to Ultraman. In reality it has been a conscious and unconscious process of changing my perception of what normal actually is. Let me explain.
Our perception of ‘normal’ has significant impact on our performance, how we adapt to change and even the physical discomfort we feel during exercise. It can shift gradually (my current warm up was once my long run) or it can be sudden (anyone with kids can remember their birth marking a pre and post definition of normal!) The shift in perception can be painful or painless, voluntary or be forced upon us.
‘Normal’ is something we just do. Most importantly, it doesn’t require us to exert our limited willpower or decision-making energy to structure our day. Making the choice to return to the swim squad was hard, but 30 years later I barely need to think about it.
Understanding this can be used to our advantage, especially when it comes to improving sporting performance. Triathlon is a good lens through which to see this process, although it applies equally to work and your wider life.
Your coach may have mentioned progressive overload and seasonal progression. Every Tzero program is built on those principles.
Your short- and long-term development in triathlon rely on them. Graduated progression is the underlying physical and mental adaptation occurring during the years it takes to become a complete endurance athlete. Chop wood, carry water, listen to your coach and that 25km long run will soon seem short.
There’s another method: purposefully deciding to adopt a new normal and letting your perception catch up. In effect, this is using willpower to do something for long enough that it becomes ‘normal’.
This doesn’t mean doubling your training load overnight. Your mind cannot overcome the reality of your physiology. You should also consider any impact on your family, work and wellbeing. Ultraman definitely touches those three!
It does mean committing to change sensibly, sustainable aspects of your life permanently. Good examples include what you eat for breakfast, the time you wake up and your adherence to your coach’s plan.
It might also involve changing how you see yourself. A self-fulfilling prophecy is to label yourself as “just a sprint distance triathlete” or “not built for Ironman”. The stoic philosopher Epictitus understood the power of consciously choosing your identity: “First say to yourself what you would be, then do what you have to do”.
Combining both methods - steady progression and conscious step-change - is an unbeatable path to progress. Think realistically and honestly how you can implement both in your life.
Cheers - Stu
Learn more about Coach Stu HERE
The quest for the seemingly elusive “balance” between training and family is a journey many athletes eventually find themselves on (if they’re not already there). Finding this balance may be difficult, but for most athletes with families it is the key to achieving both success and longevity in the sport of triathlon.
Training for a triathlon (particularly long-distance) can be incredibly time-consuming. Yes, perhaps it would be easier to put your own health and wellness goals on hold for a few years until the kids are older or throw it all in the “too hard basket”, retire from the sport altogether and embrace your dad bod (or mum bod) with open arms. Balancing training and family life can be extremely difficult. Add work commitments to the mix and it can all swiftly seem like an impossibility (especially if both partners are training for events simultaneously) – too much, too hard. But there are so many physical, mental and emotional benefits to keeping fit and healthy and maintaining your athletic goals and hobbies, for both yourself as an individual and by association, for your family too.
At T:Zero we’re no stranger to this challenge. Many of our coaches are both parents and athletes themselves, faced with the same task of balancing family, training and work commitments on a daily basis. To this end, we’ve put together a list of tried and tested strategies that may just help you to master that elusive balance in your own domain.
Strategy #1 – Engage your family
Bring your whole family along for the ride so that it becomes the “family goal”, not just your personal goal. Besides, everyone in the family will play a role to enable the achievement of this goal. Yes, you are the athlete, but your family has an equally important role in other areas to ensure things keep tracking along. Including your family in your goals and allowing them to take part in helping you achieve them will help to maintain the family/training balance and ensure your family enjoys the journey too.
Some ideas to consider here include:
Strategy #2 – Training Time Management
Mastering your time management when it comes to training sessions is another key strategy that, when perfected, can really ease the pressure.
Think about incorporating lunch hour workouts during the working week, running or riding to/from children’s sporting games on the weekend, or squeezing in an open water swim during a beach trip while your partner supervises the kids, then swap over to allow them the same opportunity.
One particularly oft-practised and effective training time management strategy is to rise earlier and train when your family is sleeping. This way, neither party misses spending time together (or time spent away from family during “operating hours” is considerably less).
If you are having difficulty mentally processing setting a 3am alarm, think about going to bed earlier to ensure your total average hours of sleep are still maintained. Remember, if it’s important enough to you, you can make it happen.
Strategy #3 – Master your preparation
There’s no denying it. You must be organised – on a completely different level.
Early morning swim session? Pack your bag the night before. Early morning bike or run session? Pre-fill and chill your water bottles, charge your Garmin, bike lights, head lamps and phone the night before. Set out your kit. The night before. If packing school or work bags and lunches is on the daily “to-do” list, make sure these are done the night before.
The aim here is to make everything as easy as possible in the morning, primarily for two reasons. First, you have fewer excuses to ditch your session when that early morning alarm goes off. Second, these small steps add up and mean you’ll have more time to actually execute your session. Yes, half a session is better than none but a complete and honest session should always be the goal.
Dual athlete households would also benefit from considered collaboration with their coach or coaches with respect to allocation of training sessions, building in scheduled family time and coordinating the programs to ensure neither athlete has to sacrifice or compromise, as a general rule.
Strategy #4 – No excuses
In the time before you had a family (if you can remember it), you may have regularly succumbed to the temptation to skip assigned sessions and instead play “catch-ups”. Now that family commitments are in the picture, the temptation may very well still be there, but the opportunity will rarely be. Not only this, but it’s extremely unfair to expect others who are relying on you to grant you leniency on a regular basis and/or during allocated family times.
All athletes miss sessions every now and then but realising this is even less of an option now your time is spread thin, is important. If you miss a session, don’t beat yourself up. Move on. But as a general rule, make the commitment to be committed to your sessions and remember … if you [press] snooze, you lose.
Strategy #5 – Be realistic
You’ve just had a baby? Perhaps now isn’t the time to sign up for an Ironman. But the beauty of triathlon and endurance sport is that there are so many avenues to explore.
Now might not be the best time to start focussing on a Kona slot, but it may be the perfect time to compartmentalise and focus on honing your skills in one of your weaker disciplines. Build run strength by participating in some trail runs, or sign up for an open water swimming event and focus on perfecting your technique and feeling more comfortable in the ocean. Training for only one discipline as opposed to three can free up a lot of time! Alternatively, you might consider signing up for some sprint distance races and concentrate on speed work. If you’re in the sport for the long-haul then honing your skills in specific areas will not be a waste of your time or effort. On the contrary, it can make you an even better athlete!
And in the end …
When it all seems too much, remember that your family loves you – and they would much rather witness you love the journey than hate every moment until race day.
Incorporating some of the above strategies into your training preparation and plan of attack will ensure that both you and your family will love the journey – and if you can manage this, then you are 90% on your way to a cracking race.
There is no perfect situation and rarely is it all smooth-sailing, but if you make an effort to keep your family happy and incorporate them into the journey it will almost always result in less conflict.
Above all else, remember that clear communication is paramount and sometimes you may need to be a little more flexible and a little less selfish than you were in your past life as an insular triathlete.
One thing’s for sure, there’s nothing more rewarding than crossing that finish line with your family cheering you on, knowing the result has been a true team effort.
Focus, determination & mental strength - Morgan Millington's incredible ironman journey to kona qualification
I think it’s safe to say my journey is incredibly similar to many who have ventured down the Ironman path. It began with a crack at a bucket list item goal of completing a triathlon to catching the ‘bug’ and suddenly an entire day of exercise is the ‘norm’.
The main reason to give an Ironman a go was to learn what it’s all about, to see if my partner Luke and I were those foolish folks that enjoyed an entire day of absolute punishment. Turns out we are, 3 down and no doubt soon to be planning the next one.
Safe to say it wasn’t all smooth sailing for Ironman number one, two or three. But what is an Ironman journey without a few rough days at sea? What do we take out of each time is experience, lessons and fun that we won’t forget. I am writing to share my experiences and maybe you are bordering on entering an Ironman for the first time or after years of experience you really relate to the ride we have been on.
In our eyes the first step when looking to do an Ironman is to engage a coach from an Ironman background, by chance I happened to meet another triathlon ‘freak’ Steve who hooked us up with Rich. It’s been a few years now and we are so stoked to call him our coach as well as be a part of the culture and crew that is T-Zero. Rich might have other things to say about coaching us, it’s never an easy task to coach a couple who request to be nearly joint at the hip but are of different abilities, for us, it works and he makes it work.
We chose Ironman Australia as our first stop. The first one was all about getting our bodies used to the miles that come with the long distance. That wasn’t without its hiccups, Ironman training is never an easy ask with full time work as many I am sure, can relate. The main obstacle that was thrown my way was Achilles Tendonitis greeting me with 4 weeks until the race. After some serious down time for the 4 weeks I had reached a point where the medical advice was positive enough for me to line up on race day.
Race day was a new experience, there was that sense of complete unknown ahead of us, and on top of that I had in the back of my mind how on earth will I get through this, four weeks of no weight bearing running (subbed in some water running) I have to run a marathon. That little back of the mind voice had to be silenced. The mindset was so important that day, my mind turned to the previous six months and the training I went through, I found confidence in that and kept positive.
As the race went on I was perfectly positioned on the bike and was rolling back into town with about 8km left, only to hear something go terribly wrong, I look back to find an entire de-railer hanging, while I was prepared for all things flat tyres and chains off, can’t say I travelled the course with a spare de-railer! Eight kilometres from home it was time to get my hiking boots on. I kept strong, it was just a hurdle, one I had to jump over and keep moving. Lucky as I was on my walk the mechanic turned up and 20 minutes later I found myself on a fixie bike and 7km of hills. What happened was completely out of my control, what I could do, nothing but accept and find a way to make the best out of a bad situation. I was there for the experience and accepted this was part of the experience. I managed to pull off a really strong run, with my Achilles issue I was stoked, I knew I could do it. The overall result was unexpectedly close to punching a ticket to the ultimate Ironman World Champs at Kona with the 20 or so minutes on the side of the road with a mechanical being the difference. That certainly wasn’t within my control and knowing that left me comfortable with where I was with my ability and gave me drive to continue the Ironman journey.
What next was always going to be on the cards, it was an incredible experience and we were ready to improve.
Ironman Texas was the decision. We caught the bug but wanted to expand our horizons outside Asia Pacific. The build was near on perfect and our goal for the race was to better ourselves in the sport we chose, this is important for me especially, Rich has taught me, the goal is the best out of myself on the day, my square metre, my race, my goals and that will lead me to do what I deserve. This lead to a solid day out for me but not what I knew was my full potential. An opportunity for a Kona spot a whisker away, a mere 2 minutes over 9 hours 30, but because that wasn’t my end goal it was easy enough to accept. That Kona spot would come when I have my best day and the external uncontrollable fall my way. I took my learnings and spent the next 12 months finding that continuous improvement and enjoying the adventure.
Next back on home soil we decided we were all in for Ironman Cairns, our own personal goals were set. We were all in, as mad as our friends and family thought we were this was ‘fun’. It was all going to plan until….
Four weeks before the race in the best form I had ever been in, 28km into my 32km run I tripped over, I am a clumsy person and it wasn’t rare for the odd trip over but this one was different, it was at pace and getting up something didn’t feel ‘right’. Turns out I fractured my elbow. The next 4 weeks was a mind battle but as the coach said, there was no time for a pity party race was on and we would get through it. At the time I wanted a pity party, but looking back he was setting me up for success. There was no time for me to be upset or stress over what was happening, it happened and I couldn’t take it back, we get on with it and remind ourselves what this is all about, our goal to get the best out of ourselves and to enjoy the process whatever is thrown our way.
Race day came, the arm, while it had not fully healed, I had the tick of approval from medical professionals that it was ok to give the race a crack. Swimming training had been non-existent, running was short and sweet and a nagging hip was sending a few signals to me, but it was on.
Talking to Rich pre-race, mentally it was all about the path I chose to take was going to lead to either success or disappointment. The easy path was “tough race, tough conditions, I have a fractured arm, everyone will understand when I pull the pin” or “get on with it, pain is temporary and my arm is strong enough to get through this”. The day wasn’t without its twists and turns, the swim was a long way but I created my own path and stayed away from others, last thing my arm needed was to end up in a washing machine situation. The ride was amazing, that coastal road are just so beautiful the whole way and the run was full of on course support. Essentially throughout the day the path I chose allowed me to get on with the job. In this circumstance the mind helped the body achieve.
That resulted in my body giving me all it could on the day, 2nd in my Age Group and 3rd overall female age grouper and the big island. What a dream!
Things have since taken a twist, that sore hip, was a little more than just a sore hip. One week later I had an MRI which has resulted in finding out I have a bone stress injury. Us triathletes really know how to push the boundaries with our bodies, unfortunately in this case the body has told me to pull back.
The Ironman ride continues, what path it takes, not sure right now, crutches and couch time are my current situation. The plan is let the body heal properly re-set and go again.
Each time we learn more about the sport of triathlon, specifically Ironman, and the drive is there to strive for more, by more I don’t necessarily mean more training, or higher placings in my age group, or faster times. It’s about getting the process right through the entire journey, finding the perfect balance and most importantly have fun while doing it!
I promise you that once you uncover your “why” those early starts, long days and hard times will become a little easier! - Coach Em Quinn
Firstly, why the title? Well I feel these elements really go hand in hand, to have one the other needs to compliment it. Success means different things to all of us, for some it may mean reaching a personal achievement so big that it was once never thought possible, for others it may be stipulated my podiums, or qualifications to higher representative honours. Regardless of your individual success I feel one cannot personally have success in the sport and be involved in the sport for a long period of time without enjoying the process.
Learn more about Coach Em Quinn here!
Start your journey with T:Zero here!
So stop asking yourself if you are ready – start asking yourself…Are you willing? Are you willing to be doubted, are you willing to be take on every challenge and to pick yourself up from failures and keep going forward?
By Coach Richard Thompson
No matter where this blog finds you in your athletic journey, ask yourself ‘what am I achieving? ‘what is the objective?’.
What has happened in your past, what you have achieved and what you havent – the wins/the failures – they are just that. The past. While undoubtedly, all of these experiences have made us better people – it is what we are going to do with that knowledge in the future that is paramount. Where are you going? What do you want to achieve?
It doesn’t matter if you have a clean slate and just starting to work out what your goals are or you are neck deep in your final training block before taper – take this article as a reminder to sharpen the process of setting your goals for the future and developing your state of mind to become a game changer.
Firstly, let’s accept that society has been developed to embrace comfort over desire and that any discomfort has a negative connotation. In my personal opinion, being able to accept pain is just as, if not more, important as accepting comfort.
There are so many mod cons out there to make life so easy and well, so vanilla. Mediocrity is the name of the game for most –‘don’t aim to achieve much as you are more likely to fail’. Society’s standards of what is generally ‘acceptable’ for fitness, health and wellbeing is scarily low. We are often encouraged to accept the status quo and forget about the prospect of changing the game itself.
What I have seen not only in my stable but the greater T:Zero Collective generally is that no matter where people live or what their ability is, they all seem to refuse to accept being mediocre. This is just awesome. These athletes are a part of a wider endurance family that knows the benefit of being fit and healthy and to achieve things that others wouldn’t even contemplate. However, there is a trap that you can get into that often people do, in that, you accept this new level of average. That you don’t want to push yourself in this sport (or in life generally) to see what you are really capable of, for fear of failure – or because someone has told you that you can’t or shouldn’t do that or you think (insert your excuse here).
So, your goal setting. Within the sport and in normal life, I urge you to break out of the mediocrity and set goals that really make you nervous. Like ‘butterflies in your stomach’ nervous. If they aren’t giving you butterflies, go bigger! In this space, anything is possible. You must think of yourself as a game changer.
Be as specific as you can be with the goals and importantly, WRITE YOUR GOALS DOWN. Keep them somewhere you can refer back to every few weeks.
Once your goals are in front of you, the next step is to be absolutely clear (by writing these down as well) as to ‘why’ you want to make the goals happen.
Now, are you ready to be a game changer? Of course not. No one is ready. No one is ready to endure everything possibly imaginable to achieve their goals. You will never be ready for the struggle and sacrifice you will suffer before you succeed.
So stop asking yourself if you are ready – start asking yourself…Are you willing? Are you willing to be doubted, are you willing to be take on every challenge and to pick yourself up from failures and keep going forward.
If you are willing to take on whatever comes – then go for it - set some massive goals (both in and out of the sport) and go out and crush them like it is your only objective on this planet.
And remember… If you truly want the results that very few people have, then you have to go and do things that very few people do.
On the second year anniversary of T:Zero & Normatec teaming up, both companies are looking to the future, signing a three year agreement with the intention to seriously shake up the accessibility and implementation of recovery in endurance sport.
T:Zero Multisport, one of the biggest endurance/triathlon coaching teams in the Southern Hemisphere specializing in uber customized online coaching, have been major supporters of the Normatec Recovery System. “They created (the recovery system) industry and continue to be the leaders in it, despite their a number of business’ trying to emulate them” said T:Zero director Richard Thompson.
“Our athletes commit so much time into their goals, big goals, and while we look after the training aspect, their recovery forms a significant part of the overall jigsaw puzzle of ultimate performance” Thompson added. “While we have athletes of all abilities in the T:Zero Collective, it is their collective desire to leave to stone unturned for them to individually live their potential and see what is truly capable. Signing with Normatec for three years is a dream come true for T:Zero and will only benefit our athletes have a greater access to the very best recovery systems on the planet”.
It is hard to beat Brent Messer, General Manager of AlphaSport , the Australian & New Zealand distributor for Normatec when it comes to the recovery side of endurance sports. “NormaTec and T:Zero Multisport are committed to highlighting the importance of recovery. This partnership will raise awareness of the latest technology in the recovery space, underscore the value of recovery and help more people gain access to the benefits of NormaTec’s recovery technology,” Mr Messer said. “We are extremely proud to work alongside T:Zero and are excited to see T:Zero Athletes utilising the NormaTec systems. Through this partnership T:zero athletes will be able to personalize their fitness experiences, from workout all the way through recovery.”
For more information about T:Zero Multisport email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.tzeromultisport.com
About NormaTec: Invented by an MD, PhD and perfected by professional athletes, NormaTec Recovery Systems are cutting edge compression systems that enhance the body's natural ability to recover. Using NormaTec's full-length leg compression boots, arms, or hips rejuvenates muscles and reduces tightness and soreness. For more information, visit www.NormaTecRecovery.com.au
BEHIND THE SCENES AT T:zERO MULTISPORT - PART THREE - ‘Progression is nine tenths of the ‘T:Zero law’
Part of any individual’s growth as a person and more importantly as a coach at T:Zero, is to expand our minds and keep on growing. We’re pretty big on learning and continuing to develop our own personal skill-sets, whilst also remembering to stay grounded and in-line with our ethos of not professing to know it all or have all the answers. In fact, we quite often say beware of the coach or person who thinks they have the secret sauce and ‘my way is the best’ approach.
Embedded in our values and our unwavering culture of consistent work ethic and growth, lies our T:Zero Coaches Framework. We have put together a framework for our coaches to use a guide to progress their own learning and development. The framework outlines the experience, learning and development required to enhance their skill-set. Akin to a martial arts belt system ;-) You come in as a White Belt and over time, through practice, countless hours of learning and setbacks, you find yourself going through the stages before reaching Black Belt status or in our case Development through to Head Coach.
This sits and rings true with the people we have within our team, all who come with an open mind and a keenness to learn. Like the embedded culture of success we have with our athletes at T:Zero, our coaching team is no different. Each coach comes from a different background, brings a whole host of personal skills and experience, has a new lens through which to see, and most importantly the freedom to express their own personal style within their craft.
The framework also gives us a chance to recognise and celebrate the hard work our coaches do behind the scenes to enhance their ‘coaching toolkit’ as we say. Once a coach feels as though they are aligning well with the next step in the guidelines, they flick through their proposal and more often than not, so far, we are absolutely blown away by what we see. It’s definitely one of those cases where as ‘leaders’ of a team, we are more than happy to see our coaches succeeding and progressing their skill and knowledge level to new and improved heights… so much so that eventually and hopefully they will surpass our framework and be helping to create new levels for us. Bring it on!
To encourage and foster the growth of our coaches, a portion of our annual budget is directed straight back to the coaches in the form of a dollar value that the coach can spend on courses and reading material that peaks their own interest. Add to this, in 2018 we hosted our inaugural Professional Development Day where we were able to get the coaching team together, bring in a couple of fantastic guest speakers (sports psychology and communication guru; and a successful businessman with his tips on the next steps in professionalism as it applies to us), and we were able to spend some time planning, debunking, and throwing ideas at the how, what and why behind coaching’s nuts and bolts - the real stuff.
As well as this, and often less formal, our coaches participate in huge threads of ongoing discussion (sometimes lasting months on end) on Basecamp (our project management tool and in-house sharing space) around hot topics. Topics range from how to set training zones (this goes super deep), through to our most recent and current topic around the intricacies of working/planning with and around hormones/menstrual cycles (mainly female focussed programming of course - but with men in mind as well). All these in-house discussions are incredibly interesting and also where so much magic and learning takes place. Our coaches are encouraged to ask questions, throw out resources, give opinions and participate knowing they are free from judgement and that the bottom line is always learning, and seeing things from multiple perspectives. As head coaches, participating and looking in on these conversations/discussions is mind blowing. You only need head over to our coaches page on the website to get a small glimpse of the experience and qualifications attached to each coach… now pool all these into one room and remember… you don’t just get one coach here at T:Zero, you get the collective wealth of many.
Whilst we back our coaches abilities 100% as they are right here and now, there’s no ego in-house and no question too proud to be asked. It’s an absolute pleasure to be a part of the culture that is T:Zero - the vision we had for this group of individuals - athletes, coaches and the collective team - has far surpassed our initial plans, and all for the better. We are so grateful for everyone in our community and can’t wait to keep on enjoying the ride as we continue to grow.
On the Ground - Destination Cairns 2019
At this year’s Ironman Cairns, T:Zero Multisport stepped things up a notch with Destination Cairns – bringing together T:Zero athletes and supporters to share a unique experience and get the most out of what was to be a fantastic weekend.
To kick things off on Friday night, we had a sit down three-course dinner at our long time Cairns athlete and hosts-with-the-mosts - ‘The Sager’s’ place. We had one of our very own athletes (former Master Chef Portugal contestant and recent Ultraman finisher) - Luis Fernandes - make the journey up to lay down a mighty fine feast for everyone to enjoy. Previous event winner (and eventual Ironman Cairns 2019 podium finisher and Kona qualifier) David Dellow joined us to talk about his racing history and share some Ironman Cairns course tips.
Our athletes left the dinner that night feeling full and ready for Sunday, not to mention geared up with a Cairns sponsor’s pack complete with an exclusive t-shirt and sponsor goodies including EnerC electrolyte sachets, Clif bars, gels and bloks, and Zen Spray.
Day 2 saw T:Zero athletes heading north to Palm Cove for bike tracking, bag drop offs and swim course recon. Coach Scotty positioned himself at T1 to lend a hand calming pre-race nerves and offer last minute tips. The overall demeanour of our athletes was a really positive reflection of how well their respective T:Zero coaches had prepared them.
At dawn on Sunday morning Coaches Scotty and Monique, as well as a host of T:Zero supporters, stationed themselves at Palm Cove to watch all the athletes as they prepared for the start of their race. As always, it was electric out at race start and it was great to see so many smiling faces amongst a sea of nerves and excitement.
The T:Zero tent was set up in town on Cairns Esplanade. As the day progressed, many visitors and supporters visited. In typical Cairns fashion, the weather (wind!) was wild on race day, but we didn’t let this dampen our spirits! From dawn until midnight, athletes, coaches and supporters were sporting smiles (mostly) through the ups and downs of long course racing.
We pride ourselves on our culture at T:Zero. As always, there was a camaraderie and spirit free from ego and judgement. Everyone went to Cairns with their own goals and levels of experience and they were met with a strong sense of equal accomplishment. It was so awesome to watch our athletes out there giving it their all, executing their plans and getting the most out of the experience. There is no such thing as an easy Ironman, and certainly no such thing as a smooth day either. From whatever perspective you view it, it’s all about endurance.
We finished the weekend off with a casual race debrief at the coffee shop on Monday morning, before catching our respective flights home.
For a small group of committed individuals, it was great to see everyone come together and share in the experience of Cairns Ironman. We all lead busy lives and for the most part, the majority of T:Zero athletes train solo. So when we come together, it’s extra special and super nice to create that sense of community through some face-to-face human interaction.
The next big event coming up for T:Zero will be the Sunshine Coast Ironman 70.3 (September 8th) before a host of further 70.3 and Ironman events scattered all across the globe.
We will be sure to get the team together for a coffee and a catch up pre-race at the Sunshine Coast Ironman 70.3 and will have a strong presence both on course and in the supporter’s tent! Hopefully we will see you there for another round of fun!
BEHIND THE SCENES AT T:ZERO MULTISPORT - PART TWO - WHO WE ARE, AND WHAT WE LOOK FOR IN ASPIRING T:ZERO COACHES
“A player who makes a team great is more valuable than a great player. Losing yourself in the group, for the good of the group, that’s teamwork.” - Coach John Wooden
"T:Zero provides professional coaching via correspondence to endurance athletes of all levels of skill and experience living anywhere in the world. The training programs are personalised and delivered in detail, by expert coaches (who themselves are experienced athletes) and designed for you to experience your optimal potential during training, on race day and beyond.”
Company Values (for our coaches):
As you read above in both our Mission Statement and Values, we are a collective group of growth minded coaches, delivering customised coaching via correspondence. At the core of what we do lies a strong unified belief that providing individuals with personalised coaching programs is crucial to achieving goals. Time and time again, we see results, and the crux of this is the personalised nature of how and what we do within our programs at T:Zero.
Like an athlete when they enquire about coaching at T:Zero, we have a similar process when bringing new coaches into our team.
We look for people who possess a growth mindset - are they resting on their laurels in thinking they have worked out the magic recipe in coaching and in life? Or are they on a path of development and enquiry no matter where they are on the continuum of experience and mastery of their craft? We talk regularly in-house about adding to the coaching toolkit and continually challenging your own existing belief systems by seeing things through the eyes of other coaches. More on this in another blog.
Is this person someone who can deliver consistency to an athlete? Are they a rock solid individual that can handle the ups and downs of their own life as well as taking on a range of individuals/athletes who each bring their own unique set of obstacles to manoeuvre? Hands down, consistency, albeit not very sexy, is one of the most important attributes an individual on a journey of growth can adopt, and it’s also one of the most difficult things to deliver on. Time and time again, we tell our athletes that the real secret to achieving big goals is ‘consistency’ of training - staying healthy, applying yourself daily, and remaining consistent over a longer period of time, is going to bring you far greater results than a fleeting 12 week block of the best program a coach could develop. The same theory applies to almost everything in life - if you apply yourself consistently to any craft, for many years, you’ll find yourself achieving big. Our coaches are expected to perform in just the same vein… with professionalism and consistency.
Part of carrying yourself in a professional, positive manner is having gratitude for whatever it is in life that you are doing. Applying gratitude to your craft is essential to adopting a positive frame of mind and producing high quality work. Thinking “I’m lucky I get to do this today” instead of “I have to go to work” changes your mindset for the better and is far more conducive to deep learning and productive work. We want and expect our coaches to be ‘all in’ to their craft, and adopt an attitude of gratitude.
Whilst we strive to be grateful and show empathy in discourse with individuals, it’s also important for our coaches to be honest and not afraid to have tough conversations across both coach-athlete and collegial lines of communication. We show respect, but at the same time, we are not scared of shying away from the truth and speaking our minds.
Being a coach is all encompassing. But at the core of what we do lies the desire to help and teach. The current blend of coaches we have, whilst all individuals with strengths and weaknesses of their own, share this strong belief in customised coaching for the individual. It’s why we have so much success and why we have seen and continue to see the growth across the collective team of coaches and athletes.
“Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much.” M. Theresa
In Part 3, we let you in on the ‘Coaching Framework’ that helps give our coaching team some strategy and targets to aim for in their own development of their coaching craft.
By Simon O'Connor.
The big day…It all starts the with a 4am alarm and wishing you had more sleep throughout the night, my mind was constantly visualizing the day ahead in the hours before I actually hopped out of bed. Then shower and breakfast (coffee, bananas, Cliffbars) done, then before you know it onto the shuttle bus with athletes heading up to Palm Cove. Once at the destination it’s into the bike compound to set up nutrition, bottles and check tyre pressure is correct. I generally take my time to ensure every little detail is completed. Once out of compound it’s a short walk to waterfront / swim-start with wetsuit to meet my wife and father-in-law. Nerves really starting to kick in as I eat and keep hydrated best I can for the 7.45 wave start. Time goes by relatively quickly as 70.3 have now left and on swim course…last goodbye kiss and group hug to support crew with the typical pre-race photo.
SWIM LEG – Athletes line up in wave starts its time to go and race notes & plan from Coach Em is now in play (Zone 3 front pack). Ironman Cairns is underway. Swim was tough going with SE winds and strong current pushing against us all for first 1.9km. Luckily for me I grew up in the ocean and can handle a decent swell (no sea sickness). Once at turnaround point I was feeling calm and relaxed… checked my watch (37mins) happy as. Homebound with some excitement as I was on pace and feeling strong sitting with a small pack (currents and wind assisted) Exited the water in 1hr 14min. Perfect start to race plan by Coach Em…now into T1 with minimal fuss.
BIKE LEG – T1 now completed then onto the biggest and most daunting part, the bike. For me patience is the key and “sticking to the race plan” as it’s very easy to be caught up in the hype as the stronger bike groups come out at super speed, or going harder than you should (fresh legs)…I remind myself 180km is a long way and will be 6hrs plus (for me). Coach Em’s bike plan was very detailed and strategic broken into 60km increments. Basically, I would ride at 70% to max 75% (last 60kms) for the entire 180kms. There were times I had to pull back to plan as my mind was drifting off to enjoy the spectacular coastal views (sitting above average km pace). Key elements of the IM bike…eat & hydrate accordingly and repeat the process as I have done in training countless times. Golden rule in racing – never deviate away from what you have done in training with nutrition. For me it’s simply Cliff Bars cut up into pieces, small bananas (on course) and sugar (I prefer snakes) also liquid carbs / caffeine for hydration - I also carry salt tablets for last 30kms. Bike course is broken into 2 laps from Palm Cove to Port Douglas x 2 then from Port Douglas heading south to Cairns…everyone has told me for at least 12 months (when I signed up for IM) Cairns has a SE headwind on last 60km – pretty much from Palm Cove as you are riding exposed in the cane fields. I was ready as 1st lap back into town I had a taste of what was yet to come. But, there is always a “but”, the wind was really howling at around 25km / 30km with strong gusts. So, I was trying to channel Coach Em’s advise “there will be headwinds as we know, please be patient and don’t over-bike and push too hard” (bless her) my average km’s up to this point was around 30kms and now reduced to 25kms…I’m not going to lie, I was mentally struggling (physically feeling great) as my times were blowing out and trust me inappropriate language spilling from my mouth. I read a quote to myself “the race starts in my head and will finish in my head”. With that said, my 150km turned into 180km in no time as the last hour flew by…heading into town with crowds cheering me on. Dismounted gracefully and bike was over in 6hr 30mins (average 27.5 in the end & no flats) bloody happy as. Thankfully my support crew were on-hand to say hello at finish line…now into T2 feeling fresh as Coach Em planned.
In her own words – “I want you get off the bike knowing you could have pushed harder, rather than feeling you’re cooked” I would endorse this plan to anyone.
RUN LEG – Okay this is where things become interesting as on the bike I was calculating my swim / bike and if I wanted break sub 13hrs (goal time) I was needing to have the marathon of my life. To be honest I knew this as we planned around 4.50 run split. However I had lost time on the bike, knowing it was only minor (around 15mins)…once again patience was going to be the key, along with the all important “nutrition & hydration” (never forget this). Thankfully I left T2 feeling fresh and was mindful this could work in my favour – boy was I right. I’ll step back slightly to my “long run Sundays” with the we run 14mins at a certain pace / heartrate then walk 1min strategy…again I would endorse this training to anyone! So, I ran then I walked the first 30kms into the marathon with 14min & 1min. It surprisingly goes very quickly because it’s broken up into segments. In the meantime I was receiving huge support from the Cairns spectators and the mighty fabulous T:Zero tent strategically set-up on run course – honestly amazing running past each time. First lap from nowhere this young lady starts running besides me (never met until now) with T:Zero shirt on and IM race number on forearm (raced 70.3 earlier in the day) passing on a personal message from Coach Em (heavily pregnant in Brisbane & tracking my split times) telling me to “stick to 14 & 1 cycle). I asked for her name and advised it was Sharon – we had a bond within 100 meters running together WTF – little fist pump I was off and going…5kms down, 10kms down, 20kms down then running to pick up 30km 4th band is very exciting also scary as I have 12kms to run. Need to be focused as up to this point my “team” were providing me with times (had my Garmin as well) and I was under pace time – holding 6.40km pace. Not to forget my “other team” (wife and now slightly intoxicated father-in-law sitting around marina precinct) advising I was on track to a sub 13hr IM and the old school “just keep running son”…with only 7kms to run. My sprits lifted as the drizzly rain fell on my body. I need to be patient not get too excited as anything can happen especially from 35km to 42km…I remained calm as I held pace, high-fived literally anyone with their hands out (kids get me all the time) as I head for home. One highlight was I spoke to my new T:Zero friend Sharon (also friends on IG) one last time…she told me how proud Emma was and I was doing great. I ran next 2kms crying my eyes out (who wouldn’t). The last turnaround point seemed to go on forever and I was now headed past T:Zero tent with less than 1km to run. Never felt so good as I slowed to hit some more high-fives. I was very emotional by now.
IM RED CARPET – by now you have received 4 IM coloured wrist bands on right hand, it’s dark and rainy, crowds going mental and you now enter the “IM red carpet” zone…this is a very special and personal part of the race regardless of times & PB’s. The moment has arrived you have now completed 226km in one day 3.8km swim – 180km ride – 42.2kn run. Insanity comes to mind and you embrace last 200mtrs…Hug your families, hug your support teams, hug anyone as you hear the famous IRONMAN words “Simon O'Connor you are an Ironman” from the legendary Peter Murray. Looked at my time before last 3 steps and my name is on the big screen with my time 12hrs 50mins. I somehow reached the finish line with PB and goal time and 4hr 48mins marathon.
I had conquered Cairns 2019 with finisher towels, T-shirt and beautiful medal. I cannot thank my coach Emma enough, so much respect and admiration for her. A truly amazing person. T:Zero Multisport crew and to all coaching staff and athletes – thank you so much for allowing me to be part of this amazing team. Trust the process, stick to your race plan #liveyourpotential. My wife and family are so important in the pursuit of training and racing Ironman, backbone to any athlete…so much love for these people. Until next time Cairns…thank you and god bless.
A three part blog series diving behind the scenes at T:Zero to find out a little more about the successful coaching team and what makes them tick.
In order to understand what makes the coaching team at T:Zero so unique, we think it’s important for you to know where we’ve come from, what we’re up to currently, and where we are headed in the future. So, we are going to let you in the behind the scenes of the T:Zero Coaching unit with a mini-series of blogs in the coming weeks. Perhaps we will enlighten, inspire, dispel some myths and bring clarity to what it is that makes our team so special.
Where we started and why we started:
We (Rich and Scotty initially) started T:Zero from a deep love of coaching and all that it brings. We’re sure you can agree that coaching is not really something you ‘choose’ to do, to be a little cliche, ‘it finds you’. Generally speaking, as a person, you need to have a natural affinity for helping others and guiding/educating others along the way, and this, we think, is what lies at the core of what we do.
We love the process of guiding athletes on their own journey and what better way to feel fulfilled than to morph from doing it as a part-time gig alongside our previous careers (as have other T:Zero coaches) into the FT roles we currently engage in. We share very much the same mindset and ethos when it comes to T:Zero’s general coaching philosophy - customised coaching for the individual (no cookie cutting) - which is why we believe T:Zero has had the success and growth we see.
When we first started, we certainly didn’t foresee where things would get to now. We had visions of helping as many athletes as we could personally manage within our own lifestyles, but as far as growing to expand the coaching team and help more athletes collectively, initially, this wasn’t on the radar. However, as you will read more about below, if the right people come along that have a desire to share in the journey of growth and development that we are on, then we are happy to see our team expand.
If we applied a fixed mindset to T:Zero then we would have said no thanks to any new coaches and likely be happily coaching our respective stables of athletes. We would be happy resting on our laurels and be content to ride our own little journey as a duet. That would be okay and probably ‘easier’ in some ways… but where’s the fun in that right? We certainly wouldn’t be writing this right now.
So… instead, we grow. We apply our growth mindset, we say yes to new coaches, and as individuals and as a collective group, we develop and fine tune our process along the journey. Yep, we will make mistakes along the way, but we will learn and carry on.
Five of our coaches (excluding myself and Rich) in T:Zero have come from in-house. T:Zero athletes that have grown and developed their own knowledge and skill base to a point where they feel a level of comfort and a desire to share this with others. The rest of us were lonely orphans adrift in search of a welcome family of like minded coaching gurus :-) and so the relationships blossomed from there.
Do we say yes to everyone? Hell no. We are often met with requests about joining our team and more often than not we have said thanks but no thanks. In the past two years, we have been approached by eleven coaches, of which we have said no thank you to six of them because for one reason or another, they weren’t the right fit for the current team we have.
As far as timing goes, up to this point, this has been organic in nature. Before our latest three legends joined the team earlier this year it was about eight months since our last coach came onboard.
We will continue to grow T:Zero and evolve as opportunities arise. There is no magic number of coaches and athletes we are in search of. We will grow as a unit, no doubt we will face many obstacles along the way too, but we will learn, we will adapt and we will progress.
The most important thing through all of T:Zero’s journey, is that we all adopt and manifest a positive growth mindset within our team. In-house, we can’t stress enough the importance of asking questions, passing on objective advice, accepting advice and objective critique, challenging our own perspectives about areas within our coaching and daily lives and overall, continuing to grow ourselves - little by little. Like we say to our athletes, as coaches, we go wholeheartedly into the process and aim for mastery of our craft, just a little better each day and overtime, things will manifest into awesomeness. And… be honest too, if it’s not for you, then why waste our time doing it in the first place?
Moving forward, as we grow, we will all face new challenges both as individuals within the team and as a team on the whole. As new coaches come onboard, we see this as an opportunity to tap into a new perspective and draw from that person the knowledge and skills they bring, and return the favour when the chance arises. Grow with the flow, embrace the challenge and see more coaches as future advocates for T:Zero and thus, yet another chance to embrace growth as a team.
Next ‘episode’ we look into the type of person we want working within T:Zero’s coaching team.
By Head Coach Emma Quinn
Coming to this time of year in Australia, many athletes have ticked off their goal races for the season. With last weekend wrapping up the second of only three Ironman races in Australia, many are left this week with a pretty big case of Ironman blues. We gave all seen it in athletes before and many of us will have experienced it firsthand. We train for months for an event, we get up early, stay up late, run and ride in the dark for hours on the weekends, whilst sacrificing time away from family and we forget what having any form of social life even feels like. We and our support team (let’s give an enormous shout out to the support crew!) invest months of hard work into one day, one event and then all of a sudden, just like that it is over. We often have so much planned for once that race is done, all of the “normal” things we will have time for, how good it will be to have no alarm, to not have less structure to our plan but what many of us never let on is that we actually fall into a bit of a slump and as the recovery days turn into recovery weeks, even months we begin to miss the structure, the discipline and the feeling of being so driven and determined to achieve that “A” goal we have been working towards for so long.
So as someone who has been to this place many times over my eleven years of racing and someone who has seen it first hand in some of my athletes over the past three years I thought I would share some of my thoughts as to how best beat the post-race blues and how to combat that “lost” feeling into motivation and determination towards the next endurance goal.
Firstly, I think it is always important to acknowledge the race that you just completed. Whether it was perfect and you nailed the plan and the goal, or whether your day turned to shit (excuse the language) and nothing went to plan. Some days despite all of the hard work and perfect preparation, race day brings with it challenges outside of our control and the body simply doesn’t come to the party. Gwen Jorgensen, one of the most crowned female triathletes in the world famously speaks about her Olympic preparation, where 4 years of hard work and training was going to summit into one, two hour race. She explains that the chances of waking up feeling 100%, of everything going to plan on this one day in this one moment are almost impossible. We can take so much away as an athlete and as a person if we acknowledge not only when things go well but also when things do not go well. Triathletes are renowned for having 388 excuses of why “X” and “Y” didn’t happen, at the end of the day it is like anything, we cannot be at our best at every moment and we cannot execute perfect races with PBs every time, but we can learn from it and I do believe (as cliché as it may sound) we learn so much about ourself and what we are truly capable of in moments where things do not go to plan.
Secondly, I think so much can be gained in terms of how we mentally and physically recover from a big event as well as how we prepare for the next journey by having in place a planed active recovery component of the training program. As coaches, a lot of time is spent periodising the training blocks into various phases (strength, endurance, race building, taper etc), I believe the “recovery” phase is as important (in some cases more so) than these other components. I am by no means saying that things shouldn’t be well toned down during this time, but research has shown physically the body responds so much better to an active recovery period following times of extreme stress as opposed to a passive one. It is important to balance the return to easy swim, bike and running (or other easy aerobic exercises) in with family time, holidays, catch ups etc, all of those elements which can get placed on hold during times of endurance training.
Thirdly, I always encourage in the couple of weeks post-race to take some time out and reflect upon the race itself. What went well, what didn’t, what you think could be improved upon, the highs and the lows. Over the space of a 70.3 or IM an athlete has many thoughts no matter what their goal is, so spending some time to write down and reflect upon these can not only be beneficial to taking personal ownership and recognition of you race (whether it be good, bad or ugly) it can also help moving forward with future goals and race planning and be a wonderful tool to discuss with your coach which may also lead to approaching the next build in a different way depending on the your post-race thoughts. My only suggestion with this is to give yourself a few days post-race to allow the emotions to settle down a little. It is a familiar scene when one has a race that didn’t fall perfectly into place that they are very quick to pull it apart, deconstruct it to the core and list a dozen things that did not go well. When, after a few days, it comes through that even if that goal time was slightly missed or if your nutrition plan didn’t go to plan, that actually there were many positives from the race, many moments you’ll never forget and most likely experiences that will make you a stronger athlete and hungry to get back onto the racing scene. At the end of the day, despite the race day highs and lows, we love the feeling of pushing or limits and seeing what we are capable of, mentally and physically and often the journey to get to that place is what we love and enjoy most of all.
Finally, I believe that following a long build and a big race, regardless of the outcome and the post-race feelings (some people sign up again the next days whilst others post an influx of triathlon gear on triathlon marketplace 😊) it is so important to come back to asking yourself “what is my why”. Whilst I am the first to recognise and understand that chasing podiums, qualifications, specific times are all goals that contribute towards an athlete training hard, consistently and at many times the driving forces (and I have spent many years fixated upon these elements, only feeling as though my training and racing were validated upon the successful outcome of these parameters). I believe that when our motivating factors are more of an intrinsically driven feeling, for example we love and enjoy the sport and we are continually striving and wanting to be the best athlete we can be for OURSELVES, nobody else, that our “why” becomes easy to understand and just like that we become motivated to train, to race, to push ourselves to our limits and search for that mental toughness and physical capacity that will allow us to achieve what it is we want out of a very (at times) all-consuming sport.
So in wrapping up, take some time following a big build or a big goal race to work closely with your coach to make sure the recovery is well planned and structured (to allow time not only for easy aerobic recovery focussed sessions but also for sleep ins, late nights, weekends away and family time). Acknowledge and show ownership over your race, whether it was epic, average or your worst day in your triathlon career, it is what it is and it you will be a better athlete (and person) if you acknowledge the ugly days as well as the PB days. Next, take some time out in the week following the race to personally reflect on your race and even going as deep as the thoughts and feelings you experienced throughout the day (the mental and emotional side of racing not only the physical). This will not only help you as an athlete deconstruct your race and learn from it, it will also help you and your coach take some learnings which can be adapted into the next build and training towards your next focus race. Lastly, always come back to understanding your “why”, what drives you, motivates you and provides you with the determination to again get back to those early morning wake ups, those late evening training rides and those big weekends.
Until next time😊
If you’re a few weeks or months on from your Ironman A-race and the post-race blues have got you feeling down, you’re probably not alone. Perhaps you’re a multiple-Ironman finisher or Kona alumnus? Regardless of where you sit on the spectrum, if you feel like you’ve reached the pinnacle of your triathlon career, think again. It’s time to talk Ultraman.
Ultraman is a three-day stage triathlon, comprised of a 10km swim and 140km bike (Day 1); 281.1km bike (Day 2) and 84.3km run (Day 3). Each day has a cut off time of 12 hours. Unlike Ironman, participants do not have event support and therefore must provide their own support crew (with at least two land-members), including their own swim escort to accompany them during the entire swim portion of the event.
The inaugural Ultraman was held on the Big Island of Hawaii in 1983. From its humble beginnings with just three participants, Ultraman races are now held in various locations throughout the world including Brazil, Canada, Spain, Israel, the USA and in Noosa, Australia.
In recent years, interest in Ultraman has gained momentum, however participant numbers for each event are capped at 50, and prospective athletes must apply for a slot. Athletes from all walks of life and athletic backgrounds are attracted to this unique stage-race – from professional triathletes to weekend warriors and everyone in between.
Given Ultraman Australia 2019 wrapped up recently, you may have (possibly briefly) contemplated whether you have what it takes to step up and take on this epic endurance challenge. So, who better to put your reservations at bay than our own T:Zero Head Coach, current Ultraman World Champion and Ultraman World Record holder Richard Thompson? Not only is Coach Rich an Ultraman specialist in his own right, but Richard and T:Zero Multisport have coached a number of athletes worldwide to achieve their own Ultraman success, including five Ultraman Australia podium place-getters. When it comes to all things Ultraman, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more qualified contributor.
We recently asked Coach Rich a few common questions that may have crossed the minds of prospective Ultraman athletes…
Q: What makes Ultraman unique or different to anything an athlete may have done before?
Q: What are the special aspects of training for an Ultraman that athletes may not have considered?
The answer lies with athletes who have done their “Ironman thing” or who have already completed another form of long-course/ultra-endurance event and are looking for their next challenge.
Stage racing is an incredibly awesome event and a challenging but equally rewarding journey to train for. Ultraman presents as an option for those athletes who are tired of Ironman or perhaps those who have achieved or resolved to set aside their Hawaii aspirations. Ultraman is the next level of seeing what is possible and what you are capable of achieving.
When everyone started Ironman (for the people who’ve been in the sport for a while) there was that lure in being genuinely uncertain about whether you could actually DO an Ironman. Now that this has become achievable for many more people, Ultraman becomes the next step – the opportunity to start a new journey not knowing whether you’re going to be able to go the distance. A new challenge.
Q: What are the common misconceptions about Ultraman that may deter prospective athletes?
So, there you have it. The seed has been planted.
Ultraman Australia 2020? Challenge accepted! Superb … follow us this way.
If you think you’re up for the challenge or just curious to know more, get in touch with T:Zero Multisport and let us help you reach your next level and #liveyourpotential
By Senior Coach - Lisa Spink
By now most athletes know about run - walk strategies for endurance events. Obviously, it is mixing run intervals with walk intervals – no rocket science in that! But is this strategy confined to the completers or is it a sound strategy for those wanting to reach their absolute potential and why?
Let’s drive into some of science and practical applications of the run - walk strategy.
Initially a run - walk strategy was possibly thought of for those who didn’t think they could cover the distance running the entire way - so to be able to complete the event they used a run - walk strategy and it works.
Then it evolved and we saw elites, such as Jan Frodeno win Kona with a run - walk strategy. “Interestingly for a man with such prodigious speed and strength, Frodeno won more with conservative wisdom than brute power. When recounting his race, he gave much credit to his habit of walking through many aid stations on the run. He explained to Slowtwitch that slowing down to take in the hydration and nutrition and letting his core temperature cool down. Ultra-runners use run-walk strategies in track, road and trail events again with the goal to improve performance not just to be able to complete the distance.
So, I think we can say a run - walk strategy is a legitimate strategy to be explored for improving your performance regardless of the level of competition. For some athletes this will mean losing the ego and doing as Frodeno did, using “wisdom” to reach their potential. Now, I say “explore” because some events and athletes maybe more or less suited to this strategy so as always N=1, but let’s be smart enough to use the best strategy for the event we are racing in.
Why do run - walk strategies work? This is an interesting topic in which an Assoc Professor friend from Universite Rennes II (France) and I have chatted about for several years following research he did involving ultra-running and fatigue (I was privilege to part of discussion group and a guinea pig for his research). So apart from the above important aspects sighted by Frodeno, which included the ability to take in hydration, calories and cooling the core body temp in the notoriously hot run conditions of Kona – there are physiological and biomechanical considerations as well.
The first, is the strategy can assist in controlling the RPE at the start of the run. Many athletes fall into the trap of extending themselves at the start of the run (either in a triathlon or in a straight running event) which can lead to loss of force and soft tissue ailments. In this scenario running speed eventually slows and unless the athlete has spent time running at the slower speeds, running economy can be compromised, running gait can change, which places stress on different mechanics and now both physiology and biomechanics can be affected. The loss of running economy starts the downward spiral of requiring more energy and oxygen to perform movements which are becoming more inefficient that require more energy and oxygen. With the possible change in gait, through loss of force production the risk of injury is increased.
Secondly, changing the gait cycle from running to walking and back again may play a role in conserving force production, muscle contraction and neuromuscular fatigue. Even though from a gross motor perspective running and walking may look similar the muscle involvement and kinetic chains are different and the neuromuscular pathways differ – therefore switching between the 2 modes may assist in prolonging the overall performance at high intensities.
Thirdly and not to be understate is the psychological aspect of the strategy. By the pure nature of the run-walk strategy, the event is broken into small manageable “chunks” for the athlete. The variety of both modes allows the athlete to continually reset and this can greatly assist in maintaining motivation. Again, by the pure nature of the strategy athletes can feel like they are running at a “better” pace while performing a run-walk strategy then the possibly unmotivating “slower” pace and “slowing” pace which can be the result of a continuous run strategy.
These are just some of the “geeky” theories behind the run-walk strategy but what does it mean for you the athlete. Here are a few tips.
Like always “happy athletes are fast athletes – love the journey to living your potential”
Coach Rich says he is a bit of a bad influence when it comes to setting the bar with races. And he’s right. Watching my work friend Dave Kalinowski and Richard do Ultraman had certainly lit a tiny little fire in me deep down, and I knew I would love to do Ultraman, but I would never have suggested it. Partly because it seemed laughable. And partly because I just couldn’t get my head around running a double marathon. Also because I would never have put my hand up for a goal I wasn’t sure I could achieve!
So, when I sat down after my first IM and said “You see my data. What should I do next?” and Richard said, “Have you ever thought about doing Ultraman?” it was probably like throwing accelerant on that little ember! I muttered about the double marathon and he assured me that he knew I could do this race. Yes – he is undoubtedly a bad influence. But without that influence I would have missed out on an amazing and life changing race that must surely have been the athletic highlight of my life!
I thought about doing a traditional race report, but nobody needs to hear the blow by blow about how much I swore when I found I had no gears on day 2, or how I nearly threw up my gel at the 70km mark of the run, so this is more about the things that I think were critical to success in the event and the ways in which it changed me.
So now I just need to realise that it is done. It wasn’t just another big long training weekend (where Steve Foster helped me down the stairs onto the boardwalk at the end – OMG major fan moment!) but the real thing. I achieved what I set out to do. I am an Ultraman. It’s just taking a really long time to sink in. I quietly went back to swim squad this morning, and when I poked my head up at the end of my first 100m the whole squad was clapping because Codie (Grimsey) had told them what I had done. Embarrassing! Nup – still hasn’t sunk in! 😊
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!