We started our Triathlon Squad in Perth in late 2012 with the aim to create an environment that allows athletes to achieve and exceed their goals. That includes scientific training, detailed preparation and plans for races, accountability and support from coaches and other squad members. It is about the athlete and getting the most out of them.
A path of continual progression
That’s how it started and it has progressed to so much more.
Initial success with an athlete might come from making one or two changes. To have continued success and progression requires greater ownership from the athlete, a drive not to settle (a coach can only encourage that), one which doesn’t get carried away by their ego after success, one that doesn’t lower their standards unconsciously after a successful result. It requires a drive to keep learning, to keep getting better and the coaches at Pursuit have modelled this.
Triathlon has many areas where we can find improvement, some of these include:
Physical conditioning for swim, bike & run
Technique for swim, bike & run
Pacing & strategy
Sighting & drafting in open water
There are many more, but even the ones listed above can’t all be learned at once.
The key to any coaching success is to get to know the athlete. It takes time to learn what an athlete thinks during a race - and work out if it's beneficial or harmful.
Maybe they don’t have awareness of thought and this needs to be taught. There can be huge gains in getting the athlete to focus on the right things, which ultimately removes negativity and distraction so performance can follow.
The Polarized Approach - Competition and Collaboration
We train using many methodologies, but the main stay of our programs is polarized, where 80% is easy training and 20% is very hard.
We will experiment with athletes to see what gets the most out of them.This might be through a HIIT block, threshold training, etc. We're not locked into any one style as every triathlete is different and we will respond accordingly.
In the sessions that are hard, competition is key. Being pushed by your squad mates can be mentally tough, but it raises your level and their level. This mental toughness focus developed in training has excelled on race day.
“A rising tide floats all boats”
Together we all get better, together we all learn to race and learn from our mistakes made in training. With the collaborative approach we don't all need to make the same mistakes. See it once and we can all learn from it and move forward.
The squad provides great support to each other when needed, they help out when other triathletes have key sessions and also re-enforce the coaching message.
"Enthusiasm is a gift, bring it and watch it motivate"
Many squads are set up around their best athlete, with sessions designed to suit their particular situation.
We take a different approach.
Every member of Pursuit Coaching is valuable and they all have knowledge and experiences that can assist other members of the squad. They all have energy that can enthuse and motivate other squad members when needed.
In my years of coaching, I've seen time and time again that behaviour is contagious. The people you surround yourself with is crucial for success and therefore our coaches will make hard decisions to ensure this is the right environment and the right squad for all to excel.
This approach has proven to be successful for every triathlete in our squad. And guess what? Even the best don't compromise their potential. In fact, they thrive!
Is there one thing we do well? No - it's a combination of many things, from educating to accountability, to cultivating the right environment. Success for an athlete will come from a different combination of things and to find that requires a partnership between coaches and triathlete.
If you're interested in getting better, finding your best and not afraid to work for it, this is the place for you.
Mike's professionalism and guidance allowed me to quickly grasp and improve all disciplines including transitions. Having an ability to carry out mock transitions was a big help during training sessions.
The knowledge and experience within the squad is also something which you can feed off and is invaluable aid which you don't usually get. You can only improve in this atmosphere.
- Ciarán Kelly