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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Q & A with Triathlon Training

I was approached by the German magazine, triathlon training -, to do a brief Q & A. Here's the gist of my answers:
1. What is your training-philosophy (the motto of your coaching)?
Probably individuation – person 1st, athlete 2nd. In Endurance sports the athlete must be balanced, healthy & happy to achieve to their potential. I see my most success when I work with the person as a unique set of needs & requirements – the training part is the easiest, the heart & soul is complex & requires so much more from the coach than simply knowledge.
2. Which moment was the most emotional of your whole career as a coach?
As a coach I’d say when  Josia Thungwane, won Olympic gold in the marathon in Atlanta in 1996. As a triathlon coach probably when Barb Lindquist convincingly won the 1st USA trials event for Olympic selection for the Athens Games. She had failed to make the team in 2000 & we had worked towards making the team in the 1st trials event & she did.
3. What do you think about the doping-problem in triathlon sport, how serious is it?
This is hard to tell – I have been involved in triathlon since 1984 & have seen many things. If one understands human physiology it’s not too farfetched to believe that we probably do have a problem – but the greater prevalence in other sports indicates that the ITU is doing a fine job.
4. What is the major challenge for a triathlon coach?
It really depends on the individual athlete. I’d distinguish between long course & draft legal. My areas of greatest expertise lie in running & sport psychology & as far as these are concerned races are mostly won on the run & it would seem that if the run is the athlete’s limiter, it would be the hardest to impact. The run takes both a longer period of time to impact positively, than many athletes are willing to give & also requires trust, as unlike pure running, the triathlete cannot train sufficiently for the run & a huge modicum of trust is required on race day, that the run will be there. This challenge erodes the confidence of many triathletes. In triathlon in general the balancing of training to achieve the best result is always the challenge
5. Which are the three most important characteristics/qualities of a triathlon coach?
Hmm, as one involved with coach education & coaching, that’s a tough question. Probably:
1.       A deep understanding of the demands of competition & the mind of the athlete
2.       Patience
3.       Compassion & empathy while understanding that success is predicated on the athlete’s ability to suffer
Bobby McGee is the author of Magical Running, A Unique Path to Running Fulfillment, & Run Workouts for Runners & Triathletes. He has also produced a very useful DVD, Triathlon, The Run, that explains running mechanics & the drills required to improve performance. More information can be found on his website,


  1. Congratulations, Bobby!

    Wonderful answers, BTW. If only all coaches could think along the same lines.

  2. I was scouting the world wide web for triathlon training blogs and yours caught my attention . Anyway, I had to figure out how many weeks of speed I can absorb and count back from my first goal race. This has given me the start date for interval work.