Last week I made an honest attempt to defend those developing pro athletes who train every bit as hard as the champions. They have the right not only of our respect, but for the sport’s leaders to provide a pathway for a sustainable career that will benefit both sides.
That aside, the pros do need a sharp reality check – as their predicament is largely self inflicted.
There is still a way to make a small living in triathlon if one is prepared to be disciplined in one’s training and racing schedule.
With the proliferation of new races worldwide – I find it quite concerning the amount of underperforming newcomers who ask about coaching, but then talk about sponsors and fulfilling a travel schedule that looks like a Contiki tour so they can ‘get to Kona’.
That’s all before the standard ‘I can’t afford to get a proper coach’ – despite the coach having a proven track record of delivering exactly what their goals are.
Many are disappointed when instead of producing a magic wand, I suggest they focus on improving their performance to be good enough to earn a pay cheque in the first place. Living out of a suitcase in an airline transit area, competing at races that you are not good enough to be at is the worst possible way to move forward if one’s goals are to be good.
If you have serious flaws in one or two of the triathlon disciplines – ‘joining the circuit’ for 12 months will leave you right back where you started. No money and no improvement.
Sarah Crowley justly rewarded for a long term, professional approach to the sport. Photo: Korupt Vision
Over the past 12 months we have seen the meteoric rise up the professional ladder of Sarah Crowley. Sarah left a well paid corporate job to follow her dream – and I’m proud to say followed a different path to the majority of the inquiries we deal with.
Realising rather quickly that being ‘good’ was more important than the holiday circuit, she got an excellent coach and paid not to go to races but training camps to improve her weaknesses.
A former solid runner at ITU level, she engaged her coach Cam (Cam Watt) who is a bike expert, and they also flew to Jeju, South Korea for swim focussed training. For a month she trained with Daniela Ryf to see how the very best worked.
With improving performances she had the opportunity to get sponsored products – but instead followed her coach’s advice:
“Do not take on inferior products – it will cost you performance and money!”
Losing two minutes over 180km because you’re endorsing slower equipment can be the difference between a win or a fourth. Sarah again wanted what is best for performance. Not to be able to say ‘I have a sponsor’!
Such long term thinking has paid off very handsomely. She is now the current holder of the Ironman 70.3 Middle East, Ironman Asia Pacific and Ironman European regional Championships. For those who were at Sarah’s level two years ago, the improvement is not luck.
Taking The Plunge
It is not to say everyone can make the huge leap she has, but I can identify many others who with professional attitudes have made the step from very good age groupers to real “pros”.
The greatest of them is the legend called, Chrissie Wellington. She took a one week trial with yours truly and then gambled her savings on coaching and camps that would make her the best she could be. She was going to the top or back to a ‘real job’. No grey area.
Similarly, last weekend James Cunnama destroyed the field at IM Hamburg. Writing this I remember James contacting me some 10 years ago and asking what is the best way to become a “real” pro. He was advised to get on a plane and come to camp, so he could get the best possible judgement. Like the others he made the difficult transition with two training oriented seasons – and since then has had eight years career professional athlete with more to come.
For those considering making the jump, please understand it is totally different when you’re racing for a pay check to pay the bills each month. The pressure of racing without a safety net is not for everyone. Though I’m happy to give some free advice for those looking to make the transition from good amateur to hard bitten pro.
1) It takes time. I ask people joining Trisutto for three seasons to be the best they can be. If you come into the pro ranks with the ‘I’ll give it one year’ mindset I can help you right now.
Stick to your day job.
2) Invest in quality coaching and in training to improve and develop all three disciplines. Weaknesses that you can get away with as a good amateur will be brutally exploited when you run into the real thing.
3) Pick races that you can access easily and economically. Ensure after a race you are always able to return to base and get on with the most important agenda – training to make you better.
A professional, long term approach will get you to where you want to go much faster than you’d think.
Join Trisutto Head Coach Brett Sutton at one of his remaining training camps in 2017 in Lanzarote, Cyprus or Gran Canaria.
The big fella, James Cunnama, taking out the inaugural Ironman Hamburg in fine style!
It was another big weekend of racing for the squad with podiums across the board.
Great job Julie!
Julie Derron kicked off the weekend winning the Schaffhauser Triathlon short course. After leading out the swim, the usual problem of girls caught up in mens packs was once again evident. However Julie put the hammer down on the run to take the victory. She is now fit to race her first World Cup of the season in two weeks time.
Second place for Barb at the Embrun Grand Prix
Barb Riveros had her first race with us advising her and she didn’t disappoint. A great second in the French Grand Prix at Embrun with out any rest / taper. It was an excellent effort.
Racing her way back to fitness, Jane forces down some calories at Challenge Finland. Photo Credit: Challenge Finland
Jane Hansom was back in the naughty corner after a great camp and Challenge Roth race. However as she let her training slip, it is back to back races for Jane to pull her back into gear. First stop was Challenge Finland with a category win, and now she will be off to 70.3 Dublin next week. Following that it is Kona lead in program for Jane.
In total control, James cruises to victory in Hamburg.
Leaving the best to last….., James Cunnama had a brilliant day at Ironman Hamburg. It was a new course for everyone, and a departure from prior James build ups, as one usually sees him in Embrun this time of year. It was our hope to continue his new bike technique experiment, and the flatter course of Hamburg provided a great opportunity. After his excellent 4th in Ironman Frankfurt we knew he would be fitter later in the season and so he proved it to be. With a controlled first 90k on the bike, before a crushing last 90k I’m sure he liked to be riding more like Kienle than James. To then pop off a 2 hour 40 minute run, one must think James is heading back to where he belongs. In the top 10 Ironmen in the world. Well done James.
Race Recap from Coach Susie Langley:
Lots of chicken dinner at the Derron household on Saturday night….
It was a winning weekend all round. 🙂 First up Nina Derron joined sister Julie on the winners list at the Schaffhauser Triathlon; dominating the Long Course event at Switzerland’s oldest Triathlon! A top effort across each swim, bike and run.
Good work Mirjam – bike strength is returning.
Mirjam Weerd also enjoyed a win and the opportunity to go full gas for an hour at the weekends Subways Vlakte Race – a 30km mountain bike extravaganza in Curacao!
Race Recap from Coach Bella Bayliss:
Podium smiles 🙂 Well done Kate!
Kate Bevilaqua won the 16th Annual Emmett’s Most Excellent Triathlon in Idaho, USA, after a good block of training. This was Kate’s first win since getting married to Guy Crawford. Now Kate travels over to Singapore for her next race 70.3 Bintan
Race Recap from Coach Cam Watt:
Wins for both Sarah and Damo at Lake Jordanelle.
This past weekend Damien Collins and Sarah Crowley took the oppotunity to race the Lake Jordanelle Olympic Distance Triathlon which was a short 20min drive from our training camp base in Park City Utah. It was a really well run race set amongst the high mountains and provided a great hitout leading into the next block of big races…They both took out the overall wins too!!
Race Recap from Coach Michelle Barnes:
Amy very happy with 3rd at the Lake Chaparral Olympic Distance 🙂
Sometimes sending an athlete off to a race last minute is a great way to show an athlete what they are capable of, without any time to over think the race! This is what went down in Calgary when I sent Amy Ellet to the Lake Chaparral Olympic Distance in Calgary on Sunday with only a few days notice. As I’ve mentioned in other blogs, Amy is talented, especially time trailing on the bike. She still only swims 1 /week and runs minimally as the goal for now is to just keep training “fun” to balance out her fairly stressful job. Well Amy proved that even with still very low volume she can improve & get results! She ended up 3rd in the race with the fastest female bike split of the day and a new Olympic Distance PB! This made me incredibly happy, way to go Amy!!!
Race Recap from Coach Lisbeth Kristensen:
Ticket booked to Hawaii! Congratulations Tina 🙂
On Sunday, one of my athletes, Bettina Strehl raced IM Hamburg. She had a great race and got what she came for! A slot to Hawaii! By getting this slot, Bettina had to win her age group 40-44 which she did! Bettina raced very well and hard, with a swim of 1:03, a bike of 5:20 and a 3:50 run. Well done Tina, so happy for you!
Race Recap from Coach Mateo Mercur:
Lauren, crushing Chicago Swim Run with great friends.
Lauren Vallee raced a grassroots swim, run event with friends in Chicago this weekend which she describes as the most fun event of the year. In her own words: “The race covers over 18 miles of running and over 3 miles of swimming from the north end of the Chicago Lakeshore bike path to south of Promontory Point…. We ran down Michigan Ave in our speedos.” We’ve been working together about a month and in that time we’ve made serious headway in all three disciplines. Lauren’s run is really starting to come along, and it showed in the Chicago Swim Run. Most importantly, Lauren is rediscovering the fun in training and racing. Coach is psyched to see how she does at IM Los Cabos! Well done Lauren.
Logan Cunningham, raced at the USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships in Omaha, Nebraska this past weekend. Continuing to make gains, Logi dropped ten minutes from her time on the course last year. Aging up to the 20-24 category, Logi came in 12th in the group. We’re looking forward to a big fall racing campaign for Logan with ITU World Championships in Rotterdam as well as collegiate racing here in the US.
Bex, back at it on the trails.
Bex Fink loves racing. With IM Whistler just two weeks past, Bex asked if she could get out and enjoy an off-road triathlon. Bex did the Xterra PDX outside of Portland, Oregon. It was a fun and beautiful weekend for Bex as she decides what race will be next on her calendar!
Race Recap from Coach Jo Spindler:
Congratulations Diana, a wonderful performance in Regensburg. Photos: Credit: Ingo Kutsche
Diana Riesler did her last Sub-9 finish at Challenge Vichy in 2013. From then on she raced courses like IM Lanzarote and Malaysia where such times are impossible. She started doubting that she’ll ever be able again to do a Sub-9. But at the press conference of Challenge Regensburg last Saturday the men were talking of a Sub-8 finish and Diana said: ‘Well, if the men will stay under 8 hours, I will stay under 9 hours!’ She is a very logic and straight forward thinker. And indeed did she produce one of her best races ever. She exited the water as 1st lady in 54mins – only 4mins behind the men leader. The first two hours on the bike it was not her weather: heavy rain and freezing cold. But she fought through it. But then the wind was picking up and dried the roads. She was really hammering the bike and entered T2 with a bike split of 4:38h (!). This meant that she could have a coffe break on the run and would still finish Sub-9 – a 3:20h marathon would be good enough. At the end she ran 3:13h (still easy pace), got a new PB with 8:51:02hrs and a new PB on the bike as well. And finished 12th over all;-) Just great to see her in such a fantastic shape just 4 weeks after one of the toughest races: IM Bolton, UK. And BTW: If you are looking for a fast race, then Regensburg is your choice: Incredibly well organized, a fast course, almost flat, smooth roads and a scenic run in one of Germany’s most lovely cities.
Peter nails Challenge Regensburg!
Peter Rudolph gave his Long Distance debut at Challenge Regensburg. He had an incredible race. His weakest part is the swim but with a 1:07h everything was still possible. On the rainy and windy bike course he made up a lot of time and after 4:40h he entered T2. On the run he looked pretty well and gave the other competitors a hard time as well. With a 3:13h marathon and an over all time of 9:06h he crossed the finish line as 2nd man in his AG (German Vice Long Distance Champ) and became 12 over all, including the Pro athletes and two Age Groupers. Really happy to see him smashing his first long distance race in such a great manner!
Strong on the bike!
Barbara Tettenborn raced IM Hamburg. She had a fantastic swim with the fastest split in her Age Group. Unfortunately Barbara had a puncture on the bike and lost her rhythm and a lot of time to fix it. Despite this puncture she felt well on the bike and still cycled the 5th fastest bike split of her AG. The final marathon was her biggest enemy on the day and a few other ladies of her AG passed her on this section. But at the end she became 5th lady and without her puncture she had a podium spot. I’m very happy with her race. She had super consitent training leading up and told me that she never felt as good during and after an Ironman. We will now work on her run, select the right course and then a Kona slot will be just a matter of a puncture-free race.
Race Recap from Coach Christian Nitschke:
Waiting for his athletes to emerge…., Coach Christian on the swim course in Hamburg.
Last weekend I had 4 athletes racing the inaugural Ironman Hamburg. I stood up half past 4 to drive to Hamburg. I did not want to miss the opportunity to see my athletes race there and give them some support along the course. Stephan Meinecke, Martin Kasten, Daniel Schollmayer and Leonhard Wiedemann were all not new to the distance but everyone was racing with slightly different goals.
Stephan Meinecke was there to be a top contender in his agegroup. The training leading into the race went almost perfect and Stephan felt great during raceweek. He once again had one of the fastest swims of the day with the 16th place overall (first in the 45-49 AG) out of the water. Just four minutes behind the leading pros. On the bike he could hold his first place for a very long time since it was the first time that he actually could perform to his potential on the bike. In addition Stephan felt comfortable for the entire bikeride. He started the marathon in 2nd place in his agegroup and still felt good on the pace we had discussed beforehand. But when I saw Stephan on the beginning of the second loop it was clear that something was wrong with him. He was pale as chalk and told me that he suddenly started to feel terrible. I first thought it was an energetic problem, but nothing seemed to help. It was just his mental strength that got him to the finishline after 9hrs and 43min. A run like in Venice 2 months ago would have meant the clear agegroup win. Stephan is already looking for the next race to show he can win his agegroup in an Ironman.
Leonhard started to work with me after he was a bit disappointed with his race in Roth 5 weeks ago. 5 weeks are not much to achieve big changes, but he was able to swim 4 minutes faster, ride 2 minutes faster on a harder course and run 4 minutes faster compared to Roth. Leonhard reached the finish line after 9hrs and 44min with a 24th place in his agegroup. We have to fix his run off the bike until next season and he will be able to achieve his goal of qualifying for Hawaii.
Daniel on the run in Hamburg.
Daniel had a very difficult preparation with many hours at work and very limited time for the training. He is also father of three kids and had to find the right balance between work, family and training. Nevertheless he had a very good race in Hamburg. Especially the run was a lot better compared to the Ironmans he had done before. A 3:43 Marathon let him cross the finishline after 10hrs and 37min which was even a personal best of 13min despite the very limited training ;-).
Martin on the run
Martin Kasten had a very rough last 10km of the run. The goal was to beat his personal best of 10hrs28min. It looked very good until km 30 on the run where he went into massive problems. Running was no longer possible and he had to walk the last part of the marathon to the finishline. A very aggressive pacing on the bike seemed to be the issue this time. Martin finished the race after 11hrs11min. Martin already looks for the next race to show what he is capable of.
Christian Karlberg did an Olympic distance triathlon in Sweden last Saturday. He could finish the race in 6th place overall and win his agegroup. His last race of the season will be a middle distance triathlon in Sala next weekend.
Race Recap from Coach Mirjam Weerd:
Rebecca Joslin did a last hitout at a local 32km trailrun last weekend. Rebecca has been preparing for the Icon Livigno Extreme in two weeks and she shows a good form. Not only did she have a lot of fun and felt great running for over 3 hours, she also nailed a 190 cadence average and took 2nd place at the finishline! So far Rebecca has found herself on the podium in her agegroup at all races she entered. Season already a succes with cherry on the cake still to come.
Race Recap from Coach Robbie Haywood:
Yannis Theodoropoulos raced in the 6th annual Midnight Man, the first night time triathlon in the world, featuring the only 100% closed road bike course in the Uk. A 2 lap swim, 9 lap bike and 4 lap run starting at 5pm for the half distance race, meant nightfall during the final 2 laps of the bike with front and rear lights of other bikes showing the way! The 4 lap run was well supported with the addition of salted crackers to Yannis run nutrition plan on lap 3 🙂 A wonderful experience, and event. With the 5pm start it also afforded the opportunity for a warm up in the morning with a 45 minute swim, 30 minute bike and 20 minute easy run 🙂 Well done Yannis for not only a bike PB and a run PB – but also for showing us not every race has to be one of the major brands.
Gisela Reichmuth raced in a 2 person team at Challenge Regensburg in a unique format where each team mate did the swim one after the other, then the bike one after the other, then the run one after the other. Was a fun day, and excellent training.
Congratulations to all our athletes competing this weekend.
Trisutto.com online triathlon coaches are available to help improve your performance here...
Over the last week we’ve had a couple of people reach out after reading an article outlining the bio-mechanical negatives of running on treadmills:
My first response, of course, is that it’s highly unwise to base your training off triathlon magazine articles. It’s their job to produce new and interesting content, not consistent training advice.
But to address the article specifically:
It is theoretical truth… And practical bullshit.
If you are a challenged runner treadmill training – without changing floor angle – will improve your running out of sight. The positives by far outweigh the negatives.
Take heart that many of the greatest athletes now and in triathlon history have used treadmills as a regular part of their training. As often as four times a week.
Our thoughts on the best use of the treadmill can be found here:
Be reassured that the treadmill can be your best tool to improve your run split. Several of our main squad members will be on it this afternoon!
Join Trisutto Head Coach Brett Sutton at one of his remaining training camps in 2017 in Lanzarote, Cyprus or Gran Canaria.
Over the last couple of weeks we’ve seen races with less than stacked fields. It’s drawn criticism and has moved us back to a couple of old hobby horse discussions:
Equal numbers for men and women at Kona, and how good does a pro have to be to be deserving of pay?
It’s been discussed many times and my opinion hasn’t changed from what I advised the former CEO Lew Friedland 17 years ago at Ironman Zurich.
Make the pros equal. Invite 25 men and women – all of whom are paid for qualifying for the World Championship. Have 5 wild cards to use at your discretion for injuries or mitigating circumstances for top athletes.
Prize money for the professionals to begin at 20. Split the pro race. Men start at the current times, women later at noon so they get a fair race and to keeps interest through the day.
It would create a much more competitive field and exciting race, but there’s no will to do that because of the second problem:
Pro purses at races.
Ironman’s current policy seems to be pretty clear on this – ‘We don’t want them’ – and are pursuing a rather effective strategy of watering the prize pool to the point where the ‘professional fields’ are so diluted in most races that they are destined to die a natural death.
It is not the correct strategy. It kills the development of the next champions and undermines the very great aspect of our sport where amateurs can compete next to the sport’s best.
The frustration should not be directed at those athletes doing their best.
You are not going to see deep pro fields while ever the prize money is so small that after taking into account travel and accommodation expenses – to place second or third means you effectively lose money. And that’s with the risk of a Jan Frodeno or Daniela Ryf sweeping down on your race and making a podium your best possible outcome.
There needs to be a system in place, which provides athletes – at their level – the opportunity and financial incentive to work their way up.
- Tier 1 – Kona Championship
- Tier 2 – 4 Major Championships
- Tier 3 – 10 Regional races
- Tier 4 – Pro race series
To get into the higher tiered races with higher prize money races would require qualification from a tier lower.
This way an up and coming pro would not run into an Angry Bird or Mirinda Carfrae as they develop up the ranks. It would also give the pros a pathway to success and would allow not just the Top 10 in the world a way to earn a living, but the top 50.
Why no implementation? Because there is no will.
One doesn’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to think that phasing the pros out all together is on the agenda.
Ironman is a company valued at close to $1 billion dollars, but is too cheap to spend $10 million a year on a prize pool for the pro ranks? No, it is clear they are not part of a larger strategy.
In the meantime it is not fair or fun to watch a developing pro get beaten up by Frodeno or Brownlee by 20 minutes. They shouldn’t be there racing those guys in the first place.
Similarly, in answer to the criticism of ‘these guys are not good enough! They are beaten by age groupers!’ you can only shake your head and laugh. Some ‘age group’ athletes are training 40 hours a week and are between 25 and 40 years-old. They race age group for a reason – they can’t handle the heat of being a pro.
So let’s stick to the main problem for now. The current pros do not need a boot. They need a hand and a sustainable pathway so that they can become great athletes over a period of time – without relying on their parents’ gold card.
This weekend, the Nicola Spirig Kids Cup came to St Moritz. What a joy it was to see the race growing with every year, with 180 kids participating. We had fine weather, great volunteers, kids had a blast, and squad athletes were out helping the kids. Just a wonderful day.
Great images from the Nicola Spirig Kids Cup in St.Moritz!
The next day, the rain, the wind, and more rain came to greet the competitors at the St.Moritz Triathlon and Duathlon sprint races. Once again the squad participated in each race. Our two athletes heading for Ironman races next week (James Cunnama and Lisa Roberts) were entered in both races by coach. When they asked why should they do that, got the answer – ‘The Champ did it last year going into the Olympics’. No more queries and to be honest I was proud both got on with it in the most deplorable conditions.
James and Lisa both doubled up, racing the duathlon first followed by the triathlon an hour later!
The highlight of the morning was Nicola Spirig stepping out in her first race since baby Malea was born, and although still breast feeding, was like nothing has changed in the last 12 months. The gun went and so did the champ, leading the duathlon from start to finish. One could have been forgiven if she uttered the famous Arnie line ‘I’m back!’. However that’s not her style, but it is mine, and with another month, there will be no more easy rides for the World Cup girls.
In the triathlon race we had a new Trisutto athlete toeing the start line. Barb Riveros took part in the very non Chilean weather to finish a creditable 2nd, beaten by a flying bike split of the outstanding 70.3 champ Laura Philipp. Nina Derron joined Barb on the podium, also churning out an impressive bike split and running well.
Barb (top right) and Nina (left) finished 2nd and 3rd respectively in the Triathlon
Julie Derron returning from her win at Alpe d’Huez, led the women from the water and took 4th place at the finish.
Great to see Julie building her run fitness and form week-by-week.
So Nicola didn’t get bored she then hopped on the bike for the Triathlon teams race with Michelle Derron to take 3rd.
Michelle crosses the line bringing her team home in 3rd place in the overall Team event.
It was fantastic to see so many of our Trisutto Age Group athletes (and former athletes) out also supporting the weekend event. Gisela Reichmuth joined forces with Sarah Keller and Sandra Gisin forming a formidable womens tri team!
A great team effort by Sandra, Gisela and Sarah! The sun came out to cheer them home 🙂
In the triathlon Jenni Paglia decided to race in her hometown in the middle of a big training block towards IRONMAN 70.3 Zell am See in a few weeks. No time to stop! Jenni did great hitting her target times and finishing 6th woman overall!
Georgina Gadient showed she can duke it out at any distance with another strong showing.
Over from the UK and currently in St.Moritz for Trisutto Training Camp with Coach Perry, both Claire Weller and Matt Leeman suited up for a good hitout.
Neither Marco Schwab nor Seb Garry wanted to miss out on the fun and lined up at the start for a crack also!
Just a terrific weekend all round!
Claire and Georgina run past the Circus on their way to the finish line!
Congratulations to all our athletes competing this weekend.
Trisutto.com online triathlon coaches are available to help improve your performance here.