Half and Full Ironman Coaching Day in Bolton

Half and Full Ironman Coaching Day in Bolton

As you can imagine, organising and preparing a triathlon coaching day in the depth of winter is a challenge. Thankfully, I didn’t need to fall back on plan B, as the weather was spot on.

Arriving early at Smithills Leisure Centre at 8.30 am I set up the room for a short briefing and introduction. I must add that the staff at the centre can’t do enough for you and the centre is ideal for indoor coaching, if the weather gets too bad.

When we think of people with careers in the entertainment industry those that come to mind are Bingo Sites at Boomtown Bingo that we see on stage or on the big or small screen or the athletes we cheer on the court or field. Let’s say you want an entertainment career but have no talent as a performer or an athlete.

Everyone arrived on time and I was pleased to be able to put names to faces. As I had received their completed questionnaire, I felt I knew an awful lot about each person’s fitness level as well as their triathlon ambitions for the new season.  In the early morning briefing, I gave the details of the day with the reassurance that I would be supporting throughout the season.

On your bike – Smithills Centre is an ideal location for coaching cycling, as it is very close to both the Ironman and Horwich triathlon routes. It also has an ideal gradient of a hill for climbing drills, which we used for the first forty five minutes of the session. After the hill session, we rode a few miles of flattish roads followed by few more miles of gradual climbing to reach part of the Ironman route. A couple of the guys got some practice changing their tyres.

Lunch at Curleys – This was an opportunity for questions and answers with Stuart (2012 Olympic runner) and myself.

Running – Stuart spent half an hour going through why running drills are so important to do and got the guys doing the key ones. Once everyone was warmed up, we took to the road and ran part the Ironman marathon route (7 miles). The pace was gentle enough for Stuart and I to offer advice and answer questions: where to speed up and when to best slow down, how to use the feed stations, ways to avoid running injuries, how to avoid the triathlon shuffle etc.

Swimming – Swimming seems to cause the greatest anxiety among triathletes. However this is my favourite coaching session of the day, as everyone makes such a lot of progress in such a short period. Once we got everyone to keep it simple and focus on one thing at a time, things began to click. Those who had difficulty with the breathing were sorted out by Steve, who seems to have the magic touch with this group. I focused on helping the rest swim efficiently by showing them some quick fixes. The big impact seems to be when we provide visual feedback via underwater GoPro video, along with advice on how to improve.

During the week I got text messages from one of the guys telling me of a major swimming milestone achieved. This is why I love coaching; the celebration of progress towards the big event.

What now?  Well, I’m busy writing up and reviewing individual training plans for those who have asked, as well as being available to those wanting online help and advice.

It’s now time to focus on our next triathlon coaching day around the corner, on Saturday, 7th February. Can’t wait!

Stuart demonstrating one of his many running drills.


 Swimming seems to cause the greatest anxiety until it clicks.


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