Read Matt's inspiring and emotive account of his triathlon training journey with Tri Swim Coaching
In the Beginning
After many years of typical 12 hour day, office based sedentary lifestyle, I started participating in the sport of triathlons in spring of 2015 and it was very clear that the swim discipline really needed some work both technically & equally with my confidence in the open water.
As a result of this I contacted Tri Swim Coaching and booked the first of my Video Analyses sessions with Annie.
What I was looking for
Prior to my session with TSC I had done lots and lots of research on the internet, books, and magazines and had viewed many You Tube clips of people offering their advice on swimming technique.
However this had actually made me more confused and hence frustrated as each of these views / opinions were often in conflict with each other, eg Stroke rate as a good example.
What I needed was someone to take a look at my individual stroke as it was and guide me with improvements individual to me.
How video analysis has helped me
The VA has proved to be valuable tool that’s benefit has evolved as my stroke has improved. Initially, it provided ‘easy wins’ to go after such as identifying problems with the stroke and then enabling drills to be defined to work on the improvement.
Equally, VA has provided the ability to continually Improve & fine tune technical aspects of the stroke, as the gains become less low hanging fruit but more marginal. Finally VA has acted as a mechanism to capture any bad habits that could and do creep into my stroke, but with regular VA’s these ‘bad habits are easily identified by Annie’s expert eye !!!
How training plans have helped me
I started working with Ali in second half of 2015 season as a coached athlete and by following the structured training plans have seen huge improvements in all of the disciplines of Triathlon
Prior to working with Ali my training was based again on individual views , opinions , books , articles and well intentioned individuals on You Tube however it was not consistent and lacked the holistic, joined up approach that Ali’s structured training plans were able to offer.
With a plan prepared for me, all I have to do is do what it tells me to do!!, confident in the fact that the pace, effort level & duration of the prescribed session has been tailored to my individual needs and is working towards my individual goals.
My race achievements
Every year that I have worked with TSC I have seen achievements that I am proud of.
These include competing in my first Olympic distance triathlon, competing in my first Half Ironman Triathlon and as part of the TSC Team undertaking the Weekend Warrior Team at Blenheim Palace.
Working with Annie & Ali has allowed me to continually improve my year on year performance in all areas of the sport of triathlon
Notably to date I achieved 3rd Place in 2018 British Middle Distance Triathlon Championships and have qualified as part of the GB Age Group Squad for the Middle Distance European Championships in 2019.
My own personal motivation to take part in triathlon has been to use sport to positively contribute to my overall emotional wellbeing.
The benefits of exercise in relationship to its positive impact on wellbeing are well documented, from the release of endorphins or ‘Runners High’ post exercise, to the sense of euphoria after completion of event or race.
I am very aware that completing the weeks training sessions have become are a key part of my ‘tool box’ to manage my personal levels of general anxiety and stress.
What is equally interesting is how by working with Annie & Ali I have also become far more aware with how my levels of anxiety / stress manifest in my physical activity and how observable, anxiety and tension are in your form and technique; e.g. Tension in shoulders and breathing pattern during swimming.
Among many things that I have learned from Ali and Annie is not only tools and techniques to manage this tension and anxiety for the individual triathlon disciplines, but techniques that are absolutely transferable to other areas of my life.
Equally, keeping a daily record of how your training sessions are going in terms of how I felt, energy and mood levels enables Ali or Annie to monitor this and proactively adjust your individual plan accordingly , as example -dialling back the intensity of an individual session or adding a couple of extra rest days – this is real personal coaching !!
Also, I have found being part of a Team such as TSC with such a warm a friendly social environment, highly beneficial to supporting a sense of belonging, being part or something positive which feeds are basic need as a human being and hence supports your mental health and wellbeing.
As I reflect back now this was something that was lacking in my life prior to taking up the sport of triathlon and something working with Annie & Ali, these last years has significantly contributed to improving
Love these guys !!!
The personal relationship
One of the many strengths of working with both Annie and Ali is the ease at which they develop a strong personal relationship with you, to enable you to feel far more than just a client with a plan to go follow, to much more of an individual who is being truly ‘coached’ to achieve your own personal goals.
My near term future goals include initially completing a full distance Ironman, then to complete a full Ironman inside 11 hour and also to represent Great Britain at the World Championships in my age group
Not only to Annie and Ali provide coaching on the three disciplines of triathlon, Swim Bike Run , I have also been able to take their informed guidance on nutrition , conditioning and mental focus which combined have produced for me a path to achieve my personal goals – a great team @ TSC !!!
As mentioned earlier my triathlon career started in spring of 2015 with my first Open Water Sprint Triathlon completed in 1hr 38 mins, whilst very proud to wear my first race T Shirt , with a 750m swim split of 17mins 16 secs I needed some help.
This was the point in time that I contacted TSC and completed my first Video Analyses followed by the Open Water Skills Course which led to taking 3mins off my next 750m open water swim which was the Iconic Blenheim Palace Sprint Triathlon, where I completed the course in 1hr 35mins.
Interestingly, I would return to Blenheim Palace 3 years later after working with Ali and Annie take part in the Weekend Warrior Event in 2018 as a member of the inaugural TSC Race Team, undertaking 7 sprint distance triathlons back to back across the weekend, with an average time per race, almost exactly equal to that of my single event time from 2015 !!!
I have seen my individual CSS pace improve from a start point of 1:50 / 100m at my first video analysis, to a peak of 1:33/100m and currently holding around 1:36/100m.
Equally, I have gone from completing a half marathon in 1 hr 56 mins to now holding a PB for the distance of 1:36min and confident I can get this sub 1:30hr. With my improved fitness I felt confident to take on the challenge of the Marathon distance and completed my first event at Manchester in 2017 in 3hr 38min returning in 2018 to improve my PB by 6 mins. This was as a direct result of Ali’s race preparation and equally his insight in guiding me on my individual pacing strategy. My 2019 target is sub 3hr 30 and as things stand I am very optimistic of achieving this.
But in the sport of Triathlon under Ali & Annie’s guidance I have seen the most gain where I have progressed from completing that first sprint tri back in 2015 to now regularly completing 70.3 Half Ironman Events, achieving a 3rd Place at the 2018 British Middle Distance Triathlon Championships which has directly led to selection for the Great Britain GB Age Group Squad, to compete in the 2019 European Championships in Romania
I am very proud of this …..but, I would not have got here without Annie , Ali and Tri Swim Coaching….