If you’re thinking of embarking on a lifestyle change then this blog should give you some inspiration. We had a chat with Matt Taylor, a fabulous client and friend, who we have known for many years now. It really is possible for you to achieve your goals if you put your mind to it and have the correct support in place.
Matt, where did you start out?
After many years of a typical 12 hour day, office based sedentary lifestyle, I started participating in the sport of triathl in spring of 2015 and it was very clear that the swim discipline really needed some work both technically and 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 Analysis sessions with Annie.
What you were looking for when you first came to us?
Prior to my session with TSC I had done lots and lots of research on the internet, books, and magazines and had viewed many YouTube clips of people offering their advice on swimming technique.
However this had actually made me more confused and frustrated as each of these views / opinions were often in conflict with each other.
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 has Video Analysis has helped you?
The VA has proved to be a valuable tool that’s benefit has evolved as my stroke has improved.
Initially, the VA provided ‘easy wins’ 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 and fine tune technical aspects of the stroke.
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 you?
I started working with Ali in the second half of the 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 YouTube 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 had to do is do what it told 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.
Tell us about your 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 and 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 went on to qualify for and then compete as part of the GB Age Group Squad for the Middle Distance European Championships in 2019. I was so proud of my journey that took me to that start line!
Race results and all important pace!!!
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 Analysis 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.
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. I achieved a 3rd place at the 2018 British Middle Distance Triathlon Championships which directly led to selection for the Great Britain Age Group Squad, and enabled me to 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….
Tell us about your motivations
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 and 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 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 and Ali, I have also become far more aware of 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.
Ali and Annie have taught me 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.
Keeping a daily record of how my training sessions were going in terms of how I felt, energy and mood levels enabled Ali and Annie to monitor this and proactively adjust my individual plan accordingly. As an example, dialling back the intensity of an individual session or adding a couple of extra rest days – this is real personal coaching!
I have found being part of the TSC team a warm, friendly and social environment, highly beneficial to supporting a sense of belonging. Being part of something positive feeds our basic needs as a human being and hence supports our 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 and Ali over these many years has significantly contributed to improving
Love these guys!
What about the personal relationship with Annie and Ali?
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.
Is there anything else you can think of?
Not only do 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 !!!