Carina Brechters, Nicola Spirig and Mary Beth Ellis will start a winter training block.
I was recently forwarded an old forum article I wrote back in 2007 as part of TeamTBB. Eight years on and I find it so apt for our pro and age group athletes heading into a cold European off season.
For context, Nicola (Spirig) went on to Olympic greatness, Bella and Stephen Bayliss won 20 Ironman Championships between them, and Hillary (Biscay), would turn herself into one of the most respected Ironman and now Ultraman athletes on the planet. Of course, we all know about Chrissie (Wellington) and her great career success.
I now sit here in Thailand and watch Daniela Ryf prepare for her last race of the season before I send her back to a Swiss winter. From our squad, Nicola is also back in the cold of St Moritz, along with Carina Brechters who has committed herself not to ski, but to lock herself in her winter base and come out of it a stronger person and a stronger bike rider. So I thought it’s apt to remind them, and also to let our new followers have a little look at what I think about the excuse of weather and facilities.
Hope it helps:
Training in Winter
Before leaving for winter camp I had given Bella and Stephen (Bayliss) the ‘Few Good Men Speech’. ‘You want the truth, you can’t handle the truth’.
To make a living and win big races in Ironman you need to go beyond the typical triathlon thinking BS and think ‘I’ve got to run a 2hr 24 minute marathon for men and a sub 2hr 40 minute marathon for women.’
This, if trained right, will produce the 2hr 42 minute split for the men and a sub 3hr time for the women’s marathon off the bike.
But we are staying here in the snow this year at your advice.
I said ‘so what’.
Nothing more was said, as these are not fragile people. So Bella got to work and so did Stephen. They left camp and went straight to a 10km X-country run.
Now three days after returning to Subic (Subic Bay, Philippines) I sent them to a half marathon, in which both went monster PBs. Stephen 1hr 10 and Bella 1hr 18. Massive improvements, coming out of the snow and using the run machine.
I am now watching Chrissie (Wellington), who has been in London all winter, ploughing away like she has just come back from 12 week training camp in Bermuda.
The point is perfect facilities in my mind are only an excuse for the weak.
I watched Bella train three times the whole time she was in Switzerland. I hadn’t even seen Chrissie. Nicola (Spirig) and Reto (Hug) turned up and apart from being white all these guys are fitter than when they left camp in Thailand for their season break.
They had programs I gave them yes, but they have dreams. And unlike many they have the WILLPOWER to back them up.
Bella and Stephen were saying to me ‘I want to get to the levels you have set’ and I know this needs to be achieved without talk or supervision. They started the day after the talk. They didn’t wait and say ‘OK, when we come off our break we are going to go after it.’ I commend them, not for their performance, but for reminding me that this is the thinking my teams have always permeated and I need to make sure stays within our squad.
Whether it takes 3 months, 3 seasons, or 3 years you will only reach your goals when, as Chrissie likes to say, the ‘will out-lifts the skill.’
There are no bad facilities, only bad attitude. I remember Spencer Smith training out of Heathrow. When I went to see his training it was middle of winter, he was in his swimsuit and he was pushing 45 cadence into the wind. The chill was numbing.
I remember him saying, ‘this makes me tougher than the rest. I need nothing more.’ Then he went and swam in a pool with 1 million kids jumping all over the place.
His best races were coming out of that. Two ITU World Championships.
Then I remember him telling me in 95, ‘I am heading to the States. I am sick of the friggin’ weather.’ I just thought, ‘well that was a good run. That’s the end of you, my boy.’
We are all a product of our environments.
You don’t need hope, you only need belief. The people you are training with may be going very fast, but they too started somewhere. And when you start on the very bottom, the taste is so much sweeter when you get amongst the top.
So, start believing that work can get you to where you want to go. You have 2 arms and 2 legs just like them. There are no shortcuts or science. You can forget hope and forget the weather. Replace it with work and start to believe. This is enough to get you wherever you wish to go.