Reply to open letter from Carlos Rodriguez

Thank you first sir for being a great supporter of the dove vision, and also to myself and ex athletes.

However i waited till after the weekend to reply as i knew there was going to be some very big results to put your mind at ease – in all 3 areas.

The facts may be a little brutal, but truth sometimes hurts.
So point 1/
I do not need any athlete, and haven’t since 1977 when an an athlete trained by me won the open Australian 100m freestyle championship. I use the date only to point out, that i have been winning major titles before some of the make believe coaches’ were even born.

As you seen on the weekend, much to the disgust of some, i haven’t forgot how to coach, how to improve people that thought their careers were over, or how to not only keep people going after the biggest prize of all has been won, but improve them.

I am not the usual coach. I help athletes be better, till they no longer want to train with me, or they no longer are striving to be the best they can be.

We say in our squad, ‘there are no handcuffs’.
You don’t like what i advise, you leave. No hard feelings.

This is the essence of success. Each generation learns and is inspired by the stories of previous ones, even those that leave have a positive effect for the future. They stand as examples of what to do, or not do with ones career.

Sir, i have no need to regress or have regrets, because even those that detest me will always attest (accept may be one) that i do my very best i can for every athlete that says you’re my coach.

I honour that, and try to live up to being the very best coach for them i can be.

If because of personality reasons i feel i’m not giving 100% we agree to part company as i don’t want to stifle an athlete’s career in a meager earning sport career.

Contrary to what you intimate, i at this moment in my life, even though i have hit a few road humps with the dove project (which i will discuss to all the dove members), and having to continue to coach, am happier than i have ever been.

The team tbb thing was not a disappointment at all.

I also gave it my all, for however many years but soon as i could see it was not longer going to be an innovator for the sport but part of the problem, i moved out. Just like any other job, i haven’t looked at their website since the day i said Alex, thank-you, time for me to go.

People say i’m arrogant. Why? because i know my craft and skills, but that is a positive to those that pay me. If you don’t pay me, it’s my job for my athletes to try and beat you. It’s my job to protect my athletes.

Do i have regrets with any athlete that i left or they left me? Absolutely none. I did my best. They all were to become better athletes for meeting brett sutton.

I only have one sadness, which i shouldn’t, but i feel sorry for the character assassination in public by a so called coach. Not sad for the empty headed no thought comments, but that Caroline bought into the equation.

So the last word i’ll have in still trying to protect an old sutto warrior. Caroline Steffen is one of the most courageous athletes who i ever had the privilege to work with. Instead of the mindless attack of she fails, and hasn’t won kona, and complete false assumptions. It does make me lay awake at night.

I think deeper than some of these people when i’m asleep.
Xena was a warrior princess. She is fallible at times. Fragile in others. But what should have been made clear to her by any prospective new coach, is how brilliant her career has been at kona. How only circumstances have stopped her being a great. That would have been at least acceptable if one decided to try and turn her head before her last kona, in an attempt to recruit an athlete.

Here is Caroline Steffens kona resume.

First yr pro 2nd unbelievable

2nd yr 5th and that was a bad race – not too bad for a failure, when she struggled to come to grips with the new fame. I think great effort.

3rd yr 2nd bounced back, only to be denied when she had dropped the lead pack on the bike because of ridiculous rules that seen the leader of the world championship be penalised. Even her own team mate says it was all over before that diabolical call.

4th yr 5th another failure, after having her head turned, when i thought with Mary Beth accident, that she was so unbeatable that only a puncture could stop her. But no, we had the know alls in to “help’. Throwing up and delirious, she on sheer heart, guts and determination, some how closed her sutto chapter with 5th.

All of this was done in the first years of her pro tri career. Lets put it in perspective with the accuser of ‘missing something’.

Even when he was a world ITU champion, 10 year veteran, with 4 or 5 Ironman Australia titles and 3 or so kona ones under his belt, so experience wouldn’t seem to be the problem, or ability to win one, lets look at his first 4 kona’s.

First yr DNF
2nd yr about 58 but he finished
3rd yr DNF
4th yr 6th not a bad effort .

Now unless i’m mistaken, he went on later to win the thing a couple of times, and become a house hold name. So, one could be mistaken for thinking that Caroline Steffen who was an amazing athlete at kona, what type of coach undermines an athletes confidence when they have that resume? Or what type of coach even gives their opinion when it’s so close to the biggest race of their life, and not his athlete?

I do apologise in public to Jurgan Zack because i assumed it was him that “turned her head in Thailand’. I could say an L plater, but that would be unfair to all those with little experience but trying their very best for their athletes.

No, it can only come from no coach at all.

As John Hellermans once said to me, and he is a real coach -
“to be an athlete is the ultimate in self indulgence. To be a great coach is exactly the opposite”.
I should know cause i’ve been both. Well John so have i.

The Brett Sutton and Xena show has moved on, and there will be no return, but the facts are Caroline Steffen will always go down a a super champion in my book, and people, that is all that counts with me. Take it or leave it.

Thank you for your note.
The way i see it.
the doc

Racing at altitude

If you come from sea level and have a race at high altitude with only a few days to acclimate, what should you do to have your best race under this condition?

Hi Don,
I think its best to go into race as late as possible and don’t try to aclimatise at all.
At altitude because of restriction of oxygen you seem like you can’t over push.
Your body just does what it can with the limited oxygen.
You need minimum of 10 days to acclimatise unless you travel to high altitude constantly
Dont over think it, and you will be fine


Swim 50m or 25 yards

Hi Doc,
looking forward to reading your next book chapter…
Q: I’ve got the opportunity to swim in a beautiful 50m pool on the weekends and really want to maximize my time there. Last weekend I swam multiple short sets of 50s on SAT and on SUN I swam long sets of 800-500m with pull/paddles/bands on the last couple sets. Am I going about this reasonably? during the week my main sets are 30 x 100 in the SCY pool and 250 yd repeats in the local pond. Curious on your thoughts as you are the boss on this subject.

If you are swim challenged, then I would do shorter reps in the 25 yds pool and multiple amounts.
Use the long course pool for paddles pull bouy longer swims
Best of both worlds.

Length of long workouts

Hi Doc

I was readings your answer to Adrian’s question and you mention bike and run training should be min 50 % longer than your ride in a race.

Does this also apply to ironman distance? If not how would you do apply it for the full distance?


No. It applies to short distance
Long distance
We try to get our long ride as long as we will ride in the race and our long run similiar.
That can pose problems for age groupers, as some get carried away.
We put a limit of 5 hour 30 min for age grouper and 3 hour run
Cheers sutto

Faster 5km

Hey Doc , I’m looking to run a sub 17 km I can run 20:36 at the moment but am struggling to get below that , I do 800m repeats in training with 200 recovery approx 12-14 sets , another run I do is negative split one hour , then there’s a treadmill session I do which I set the speed high and then do 30secs on and 30secs off for 20 mins all the above have warm ups of a mile run and a cool down of approx. 10 mins . I also throw in the odd 10-11 mile bike session done as a TT type ride . when I race I start on the front with the big guns and just go like a bat out of hell and try and hold on till the end . any tips other than find another sport would be welcome . cheers

Hi Lee,
Sorry its taken me this long to get back to you.
The 5 klm
As I said previously, just running every day doesn’t make you faster.
Pleased to see some faster stuff
And i’m happy that athletes can revolve their work with a day off in between.
But here is the kicker, i’d have these types of sets.
The 800s you do. But at faster than race pace.
The long steady run.
A fartlek speed.
And a faster short run, like 15 min fast, now that might revolve over an 8 day period
Not 4 days
That’s up to you or the coach
Cheers the doc


dear doc,
in the sportscoachradio interview you say about a major difference between males and females that men have to do their easy stuff A LOT easier then women (because of testosterone) but when you prescribe hard stuff its REALLY HARD.
to get an idea for myself. what is going really easy on the swim/bike/run? any hint is helpful (description about how it should feel; heart rate maybe; pace examples of some of your pros)

what would be my running easy pace when my oly dist. run pace is around 3:40min/km?

thanks luke

The best way to know your pace is with heart rate.
That is a constant variable with the individual.
Next, they go fast it’s fast but a lot shorter than the females
The doc

Swim how to improve catch

Hi Brett

I spent a full week with you in Le Sentier (vallee de Joue) 12 years ago, but I didn’t have enough time to ask all my training questions, so thanks to goldmembership I can keep on my education.

How do you improve the catch (and drop elbow) of your non swimmers.
head up freestyle
stretch cord
closed fist drill
catch up
rototar cuff exercices
..any more ideas for swimmers who swim only 2-3 a week?


I do remember,
Well out of what u listed
I can say 2 days ago I had the Olympic champ doing fist swimming for that very reason and I had Daniela Ryf only 3 days ago doing some water pole head out stuff.
So doing is believing,
hope that helps

Losing swim muscle

Hi Doc,
I’ve gained mass in my upper body since I began swimming (2 years ago). Although I’ve become a much better swimmer, I’m not happy with this as I fear the extra weight hinders my running. What can I do/what do you think I should do?

Hi mitch,
That is the eternal balancing act.
With our squad, once we attain the level of swimming required both in mileage and speed we start to do less of the paddles.
The doc

World Cup blog

Sorry to be late with the world cup round up, but I had readers telling me to stick to what I know, and as I had bet for a German Dutch final, you can imagine how dirty I was, when the new chosen one at Manchester got it awfully wrong and let my money disappear to a very average Argentine team.

Fussball WM 2014: Deutschland ist Fussballweltmeister 2014

However I recovered my loss back by backing Germany to take the prize. But lost out on real profit, when I thought they would crush em 2 / 0 Continue reading


Hi doc,
what is the proper head position for OW swimming?

Hi Mitch,
There is no proper position, as it does depend on the technique of the individual.
However in saying that, I believe I advise my guys that I like to see the water line between their hair line and the eye brow. Thus looking 10 feet, or 3 meter forward rather than the bottom of the pool.
The doc