After our last blog, Am I missing out, I have received feedback from several people who have been around Trisutto for a long time asking….,why the change? I would like to pass on the answer in more detail to not just them, but all of our regular readers.
Why the change from group to non-group training?
Up until 2006 my Triathlon squads were primary ITU Olympic distance athletes with a few exceptions who competed over long distance. However since this time, when I decided to go after the Ironman distance, our squads have been primarily long course athletes with the exception being a few short course athletes.
Last year we introduced age group athletes to our program also, thus thus adding a third category to our training regimes.
As previously stated it’s my conclusion that the longer distance events need to be trained at intensities that suit the actual athlete. Going outside that personal range has no benefit when racing from 4 to 12 hours. In fact I find it quite harmful to performance; thus there is very little need for head to head training, nor the psychological impairments that at times it brings.
So to with older athletes even going short, bashing oneself into submission. I find this gives a very short term and artificial improvement that can not be sustained long term. There are many reasons for that, however I’ll stick to laying down the motor patterns in a controlled environment for each discipline is superior and longer lasting than being one of the white knuckle brigade….‘because I’m tough’
The good news for me, is short course or long course and now age group athletes, don’t seek me out unless they are courageous. Those that are not, don’t last long in my squad, just as the ‘short term in a hurry’ athletes also don’t last long with me.
No pain no gain..?
We teach athletes to use their courage on race day, to have the courage at training to read their own body and listen to it, not override it because I can gut it out better than most.
‘No pain no gain’ is one of the stupidest mantras in sport, especially if one is training for a multi hour sport.
Short Course athletes have to adapt to the numbers to be competitive. 2003 ITU Triathlon World Champion, Emma Snowsill. Photo Credit: Triathlon.org
Know your Sport
When considering elite pro short course athletes, it is true that back in the day, just as it is now, we consider what levels need to be met to be competitive. Unlike our long course training where we train at paces that adapts to our bodies, in the short version we do the opposite, we have to adapt our bodies to the numbers that are required to be competitive.
Yes, I hear you saying that makes no sense, but in reality short course is not Triathlon.
Know your sport…, it is a wet run. Thus the first 200 metres of the swim is very, very important. You won’t swim your way into the event if you are not there at the first bouy. Just as today if your not a 29 min 10 km runner in the men’s race, you are not in the top 10. If you can’t crack 34 mins in the women’s, you too will be fighting it out for 11th.
These are facts not fiction; the realities of ITU life. So short course athletes need to work at speeds during the week that are above that pace to get adaptions. Being there from the start of the drafting races and having coached many of the champions of their generations, I have documented evidence of what it took on a weekly basis to win a world title. The speed needed in 1997 didn’t cut it in 2007 and 2007 doesn’t cut it now!
Adapting to the Realities
At Trisutto we have always adapted to the new realities of what it takes. I discovered early on that when we were training as a group for ironman the results were not as I wished. Sickness, tiredness, more injuries brought on by I’m sure the fatigue of going long, but also going head to head, This had me rethink our approach, along with the so many other differences needed between long course and short course racing.
Having people ‘doing their own pacing’ was a huge break through for me. Just as throwing away the stop watch or asking people for more effort when training also resulted in massive steps forward in the actual performances.
I know that for at least 5 of my great champions, taking off the power meters all the time and the heart rate monitors for most (the Angry Bird still uses a heart rate monitor), made them from good if neurotic athletes, to absolute kick arse champions. But how do I sell that to you budding triathletes against the wall of marketing Triathlon has become!
“Sutto , you got to move with the science “ …., but the science is killing the majority of the performance. It’ hindering.ones ability to know where their levels are. The reality is playing pinball on your bike trainer (which is the ‘new’ thing I’m told) is going to give you a short term hit and then burn you out completely.
Believe me, when you learn to read your own body and to have the courage to stick to your ‘gut feel’, you too will improve out of sight and enjoy the feeling of being free!
That’s the way I see it.
Join Trisutto Head Coach Brett Sutton and his squad at training Camp in Cyprus in April, 2018 for insights into the Trisutto Coaching and Training methodologies.
Feature Photo credit: Tahni Brown
Coach, if I can’t go to camp or train in a group am I missing out?
Every off season stories permeate through the Triathlon media about how great camps are, or the need to train in a group to push to even greater heights? Their objective to create buzz and to sell products.
Now I hold camps, last year personally I ran fifteen in total. Of those fifteen, only two were camps where real work was done. These were the camps that were dedicated to hard graft! When were they held? In September, for those getting ready for Kona, or for those with races in early November to also to be ready to go for the last blast of races in their season.
‘But coach what about the winter warm weather camps that we hear so much about?’ Well at Trisutto we don’t do that ridiculousness in the off season.
Our camps are educational. We run five comprehensive lectures that are must attend. We do six compulsory sessions, covering each of the three disciplines, so I can view techniques. We have five optional sessions that go with that. Do you have to attend? No definitely not.
‘But coach why would I go?’
We go to get out of the cold. We go to learn what Triathlon really is. We don’t do what most other camps do.
‘What is that?’ Blindly smash themselves every day thinking that it will improve them through sheer weight of tiredness.
I’m sure many of you have been on these camps, but what is not advertised is this. The amount of injuries accumulated by tripling bike mileage in camp, doubling run mileage of back home, and sore shoulder syndrome by Sunday night because whilst I swim two or three times a week at home, in camp we swam seven! Of course all done racing the guy next to me who I’ve never met in my life, don’t know his abilities, his heart rates or fitness levels. But I know one thing, we are on holidays and we are at camp, the sun is shining, so I’m going to war with anybody near me – in everything! Welcome to the normal Triathlon camp! If you can still eat your third portion of pasta taken from the buffet with a fork then you are soft and haven’t worked hard enough at camp.
Photo Credit: James Mitchell Photography
‘But Coach, I got Kona in October’
Here is a news flash – so has the Angry Bird, and she isn’t in the kick off camp I’m running at this very moment. Why? Because I hope she is sitting at home doing normal things and resting, as this year we really going after Kona! I can’t re-iterate enough, that starting too early makes sure the last races of the season are not what you were after.
This was rammed home to me by a couple of newbies in pro camp this week. ‘Coach, you didn’t name a time and meeting point for tomorrows morning run?’ That’s right was the answer, we are all adults, we do our own thing, were you given instructions? ‘Yes coach.’ Well go and do it at your own pace!
And there in lies what I keep trying to communicate. Ironman is not short distance. Where once I trained sprint athletes they did certain sessions as a group, we still did less than most groups together but we did fast work together pushing hard. We swim together now only as a meeting point. Within that group there may be three to five different swim sessions at the same time.
I’ll point out once again, that Nicola Spirig and Daniela Ryf might have ridden together two times in any sessions requiring hard effort, or ran twice together in any session done with some zip in the past two years. Not two days. Not two weeks. Not two months, but two years. However, yes I do train both of them.
I put this caveat for people who have never been to my squad training. It’s dangerous to your health and thus performance, in reading articles about ‘what Brett Sutton’s group do’. They really have no idea, but perception replaces reality.
- Ask an athlete that has attended any of my own camps.
- Ask if everybody trains together pushing harder.
- Ask is Brett Sutton on the pool deck screaming for athletes to go harder?
- Is he with stop watches calling out times on any interval?
- Ask someone that has been there!
Our success is about knowing when to push and when not to. It is about knowing Ironman is a personal sport. Where training outside of your numbers may make you feel good, remember pride comes before the fall, and fall you will, if you head to a camp and think drilling oneself is good for performance in 3 months time.
After the Super League Nicola was rested. She swam every second day with us working on another new swim stroke. Two full months later she left the pool and I said ‘Write that down as your second swim workout of this preparation as I was pleased with the stroke.’
What were all the other swims? Stroke work and preparation for when she is ready to start. That happened last Friday.
Daniela kicks off on the 1st of February.
Are Camps a good idea?
Camps are a splendid idea if you get in the sun and start an easy build up to your season. Smash fests for one week only to go back home to the cold and do one third of the work in the camp may be good for your ego, but does nothing for your season.
Just the way I see it.
Join Trisutto Head Coach Brett Sutton and his squad at training Camp in Cyprus in April, 2018 for insights into the Trisutto Coaching and Training methodologies.
Feature Picture Credit: Cris Solak
After two successful training camps where our visiting coaches were impressed with the improvement in swim strokes and times of the athletes attending, I now sit on the plane reflecting on a pertinent point that was raised at the end of our camp debrief:
How was it that improvements observed in nearly every athletes swim were achieved not from swim specific drills, but directly upon jumping in the water after the swim lecture? One coach added ‘I got in the water after the talk and have to say I had the most enjoyable swim I’ve had in ages.‘
At the lecture we did not discuss swim technique at all. Instead I opened the minds of athletes, that the marketing and proliferation of ‘established best techniques’ can effect everyone, including the best athletes in the world; even after they have achieved remarkable success.
With complexity stripped away, swimming gets easier, more enjoyable and faster. However maintaining this is a struggle. In society in general, and triathlon in particular, we operate in a community where ‘Keep it Simple’ principles are viewed condescendingly. I point this out, as many of our age group athletes having made swim breakthroughs will now return home and bit by bit, under the guise of friendly advice will start the process of complicating their strokes all over again. The temptation to return to ‘proper’ swim techniques can effect even the best athletes in the world, even after they have achieved unbelievable success.
At training camp we had Barb ‘Pepper’ Riveros, who already has had podiums at ITU World Cups, and a 5th place finish at the last Olympics in Rio. I believe to be on the podium at the next Olympics she needs to improve her bike and run. To do this she needs to change her swim stroke.
We invested a month to achieve the stroke I believe is right for her. Barb then went traveling and racing, with a vacation in Hawaii where she collected a 2nd place in the XTerra World Champs, before arriving back in camp. The difference? A return back to the old techniques, old stroke, old drills. So I thought this was a great example to share of elite level coaching.
I’m not changing her stroke to make her a faster swimmer. I’m changing her stroke to make her a more superior triathlete.
My method of trying to get her to ‘buy in’ to the new technique is to sell her the results of Nicola Spirig. I have changed Nicola’s stroke many times over the years, from the most ‘technically correct’ six beat, high elbow, bi-lateral breather which was beautiful to watch; into the straight armed, no kick whirlwind seen at the last Olympics. That stroke allowed her between two Olympics to go from 1 minute 10 seconds behind the leaders in a wetsuit swim, to being in the front swim pack in Rio, in a non wetsuit swim. This was the key to her Rio Olympic Silver medal.
However, here is the point I want to make. Even after her success, Nicola still pines for her old swim stroke!! As we now make another change in swim technique for the Tokyo games, which will be her fifth Olympics, I still hear on a daily basis ‘I used to swim 50m and 100m so much faster. People used to complement me on my stroke, now they laugh at it.’
I will add that Daniela Ryf, now 3x Hawaii Ironman World Champion, was also given a new swim stroke when she joined. Yet she too, despite such success wants to keep changing back from her 2 beat to her 6 beat kick, as ‘I’m so much faster swimming with 6 beat‘; It makes me sick to my stomach when she keeps adding swim drills, and other things into her swim workouts, which only serve to hinder her progress.
I try to breakdown these protests by making 3 points:
- Your bike and run has been the beneficiary of these changes. You are much faster triathletes.
- Your distance swimming has improved greatly, and at top speed you now develop way less lactate. And finally, when I can see that the above is not convincing enough, I remind them:
- At least your bank manager enjoys the new stroke!
Which usually breaks the deadlock.
Here is the point for challenged swimmers – ALL three of the above athletes, if they left and were coached by someone else, they would change back to their old swim techniques in a nano second.
So I understand completely how hard it can be for age group swimmers to hold the line, and to use a technique that is not trying to copy a Michael Phelps!
To my challenged swim friends, I can only say to you that you will improve and results over thirty years have proved it. But the real challenge is in ‘hold the line’ against the opinions and instinct to complicate, as your Triathlon will be so much better for it.
Join Trisutto Head Coach Brett Sutton at his training camps in 2018. Spots still remain for Gran Canaria in February and Cyprus in April.
Article Photo Credits: Mokapot Productions
The majority of European long distance races this season are now behind us, and I have asked many athletes how they went. The most common answer: ‘it was ok but I somehow have to be able to cycle and run a lot faster.’
Every athlete wants to finish a race faster than the one before, or faster than last year etc, but only few athletes succeed. People often start to analyse and wonder… my cycling and running should be a lot better; I was faster in the shorter distances and during the marathon last fall; I was quicker during all of the long Sunday rides with my friends.
After thorough consideration some athletes decide to invest more money in a new bike and to train longer and harder. This can often be the wrong approach.
One reason why most triathletes competing in long distance races are dissatisfied with their cycling and running performances actually has to do with their swim.
What is apparent is that swimming is often underestimated in triathlon.
Do I have to swim more? Or, I already swim three or more times a week!! – are frequent reactions.
No, perhaps you don’t need to swim more however it might be a good idea to work on your swimming technique – adopt a style that fits you individually.
Kristin attributes her recent improvement to changes in her approach to swim training. Photo Credit: Jose Lois Hourcade
Kristin Lie from Norway is a great example of someone who invested time and effort into redefining her swim technique and has since seen the rewards. She recently detailed the changes in her approach in her Blog after her success at IM 70.3 Haugesund:
After the IM 70.3 in Haugesund I received numerous enquiries and comments or I was asked directly about my swimming performance. Here is my answer:
During the last past years I spent a lot of time in the water. I trained with many different swimming coaches and tried everything possible to increase my speed in the water.
The result: lots of frustration for all of the effort!!!! In May I took part in a Trisutto Camp in Mallorca. Brett Sutton and Dirk Neumann found a swimming style that was good for me.. We adjusted two small things. My breathing rhythm was changed and my swimming style was simplified considerably. Place Press Push makes my swim goes whoosh….
Result: I am out of the water faster, and more importantly I save energy. Before it felt like I needed 20 Calories and now only 1 Calorie. I immediately have power on the bike and can deliver my performance. I might offend some swim coaches now but pure swim training has nothing to do with swim training for a triathlon. This also applies to cycling and running. Which both also were changed during the camp.“
We cannot describe it better!
How can you simplify your swim; how can you get out of the water faster and more relaxed; how can you achieve faster splits on the bike and during the run, or how can you increase the overall fun and enjoyment of triathlon…, all of these these aspects are discussed and practiced at our Trisutto Camps and I invite you to join me in Mallorca in October or next Spring to learn more.
Dirk Neumann is a Trisutto Coach based out of Frankfurt Germany. Earlier in 2017 he coached his first camps on the beautiful island of Mallorca. Dirk will be coaching the Trisutto philosophy and Total Body Force Methods at camps in Mallorca this coming October with more camps available in 2018. Check here for camp dates and details.
With the success of our training camps over the last 4 years, many athletes have returned year on year. However a number of our family have asked if we can do a camp that is more about full on training in preparation for future races.
At Trisutto we thought it was a great idea, but rather than wait till next year, we were asked if we could get one underway for those preparing for Kona. The camp also great timing for a final training block for athletes attending Challenge Madrid, Ironman Barcelona or Ironman Emilia-Romagna.
16 time Iron Distance Champ, Bella in action in Lanzarote. Photo Credit: Bob Foy
As this will be our first camp of this type I thought it would be an honour to run the first Hell camp with Trisutto coach Bella Bayliss, one of the greatest Ironwomen of all time with 16 wins to her credit.
The Trisutto Hell week takes its name from my old swim camps, where we would prepare for major swim championships. If you are heading to Kona in October, or have entered a race at the end of the European season and would like to get a concentrated block of either 7 or 10 days training, we have places remaining for our camp.
Join Brett Sutton and 16 time Ironman distance Champion Bella Bayliss in Lanzarote in September.
Total Body Force techniques are taught at Trisutto Camps worldwide.
During our age group training camps we have seen athletes make incredible improvements in their triathlon swim using our TBF (Total Body Force) techniques. We have also found many athletes returned to their training environment, and individuals in their club or in the swim lane next to them have ridiculed their new stroke – despite the fact they move down the pool somewhat faster than they used to do!
It’s a tough gig going against the peer group in anything – both for athletes, and for coaches. As a coach, you often doubt and ask yourself is there a better way. For coaches, I say the hardest thing in coaching is to find a method that is not recognized by the hordes and stick with it. If I fall prey to the pressure when I invented our TBF methods and I am an Olympic level swim coach having coached 24 swimmers to the Australian Olympic team, I acknowledge how tough it is for almost all others.
However, the strength of our swim program can be illustrated with some of the successes of our athletes. When our now Trisutto coach Bella Bayliss was racing professionally there was a period when she and husband Stephen could only swim for 1 hour every second day due to a lack of pool facilities. The answer was to maximise the use of the time available – paddles and buoy, 10 x 400, 40 x 100, or one hour non-stop.
A familiar sight – Steve Bayliss leading out of the water. Photo Credit: James Mitchell Photography
Stephen Bayliss was considered not a good enough swimmer, with too poor technique for the British program. As a 3rd pack short course athlete, and 2nd pack long course he was high elbows, breathing both sides, stretching out, counting strokes, wiggling like a worm on a fishing rod as he tried to do perfect technique. After watching him run and his natural gait I thought this man got a bit of skill – these swim coaches have just killed it in the swim.
We adopted the straight arm (English cricket fast bowler) swim stroke, with breathing on one side with the instructions:-
- Stop trying to feel the water,
- stop stretching out,
- stop counting your strokes.
- Use your natural turn over – the same as you have in the run.
Stephen did, and he got better and better. Soon he was in the first pack in Ironman, then soon he was leading the swims and every body could see who it was because of his straight bowling arm! Stephen was now swimming 47 minutes not 55 minutes, and was no longer in the 3rd pack of ITU races, but in the lead pack. He beat all the young ITU Brits out of the water.
The irony being when the federation coaches who got rid of him, suggested that if he worked on his technique, (which in their eyes currently looked awful) he could be the best swimmer in Britain. They still didn’t get it.
With swimming we must not lose sight of the fact that we are training for triathlon – and that we race in a wetsuit most of the time. Get the paddles on, pull buoy between your legs and get after it. To quote Bella:
‘I used to spend an hour and a half fussing about, trying to do all the perfect technique things in the water, gliding and stretching. It was paralysis by analysis! But once I just got in, got on with it, and just thought about nothing more than putting on the gear and giving it to myself, I improved by 15 minutes over 3.8K’.
For our athletes, and for those who have applied our techniques and improved their swim – Hold the Line!
For the coaches out there, if your athletes are improving, then it is working. If it ain’t broke, don’t try and fix it!
Bella Bayliss is a former World Long Course Champion and 16 time Ironman distance Champion. She now runs a successful coaching business from Sands Beach Resort in Lanzarote.
Bella will be teaming up with Head Coach Brett Sutton in early Sept in Lanzarote, running a high performance advance level camp, specifically for those preparing for Kona. Stay tuned for details!
Trisutto.com online triathlon coaches are available to help improve your performance here.