The 4 Principles of Training

See the graphic I have created below. Overload, Adaptation, Specificity & Reversibility are the keys to training. I have also added in a Performance Management Chart (PMC). It’s important to note that the PMC is displaying all 4 of those principles.

In the PMC you will note the gradual rise of fitness (blue line) as the athlete is in the overload / adaptation phase. You will also see it drop after a major race as the athlete recovers depicting reversibility.

The blue dots are indicating the specificity of training. You can see on the left of the PMC the athlete is in their winter base with lower fitness levels and lower blue dots. As they get into proper training, the fitness rises and the dots become higher showing training is becoming more intense.

The key to it all as your coach is getting the correct balance and timing right for all these factors as we lead into the races.



We all work with change. As a coach I am a change agent. That’s what I do. But that’s where the difficulty starts. Humans really don’t like change! We want different, better, variety …. but that must all be done without change! You can see the problems already.

I am trying to adapt and coerce and cajole you through growth but it’s important that we do that in a meaningful manner and not just for the sake of it.

The key to all this is to remember that we are changing processes and behaviours. We aren’t wanting to change you, your values, or your character.

For instance, if one of your important values is family time we have to get some strategies in place that don’t compromise that value but enhance or work within it. We set sessions at times that don’t overlap family time !

Again – we change process and behaviours – not Character or values !

Training Load

I’m quite often asked how much training someone should be doing for certain events. Answer is always “it depends” , but it’s definitely good to have a ball park figure in mind. I have a few rules of thumb when it comes to training loads.

1. Work out the total number of weekly hours based on experience in the sport.

2. Take into account “life” demands. Family needs, work, study, chill out time etc

3. Make sure we have enough hours to train correctly for the goal event. If the athlete doesn’t have enough hours, shorten the goal event.

4. Once I have my rough weekly hours number I use the 25/50/25 rule. 25% swim, 50% bike, 25% run.

5. If you are doing long course I try to match weekend numbers with weekday numbers. So if you are doing a 4 hour ride on the weekend then I try to get you doing 4 hours mid week spread out over 3 rides. Similar to run. If you are doing a 2 hour long run I’ll try to get you to match it mid-week.

6. For short course athletes I like the weekend long sessions to be all about the aerobic foundations for your mid-week intensity. Weekends can also be a chance to sneak a run off the bike in to train for the demands of competition.

7. I like Monday and Friday to be have a recovery focus. That can be passive recovery by means of a day off, or active recovery by means of easier aerobic based sessions.

8. Apply the 4 principles of training to develop the mix of the hours. This is the “art of coaching” part as it deals with the many issues life throws at us.


Its sometimes hard to know how hard to go in a set of intervals. My guide is firstly to remember that we work in a training zone. So T4 is a range between 96% and 102% of your Anaerobic Threshold. Depends on how you are feeling but if you have a set of 5x1km on the track its best to work into them. Start the first one a bit easier and get to the last one by incrementally getting quicker each one.

Being aware of your targets helps this of course. If you know your threshold pace on the run is 4min/km then start at 4:05 and work towards 3:55.

Time Trials

In training, TT’s are a great opportunity to practice race skills. I am looking for 100% commitment to them and I want you experiencing that bit of internal pressure that comes with the territory. I am then looking for you to switch that pressure to a process mindset. Feel the pressure , then get your head around your pacing and technique. Let the outcome be what it is.
TT’s also give me an idea of what your current Anaerobic Threshold is.

Training Mindset

When you are training you aren’t just training your body. You are training your body, mind, skills, technique, tactics etc. Don’t just reflect on your output. Reflect on how well you approached the session.
Things like focus, skills developed, pre-session nutrition, sleep, etc are all worth reviewing and developing over time.
Review using the 4 Pillars of Performance >>
Mental : Physical : Tactical : Technical

Race Craft

It’s not what you think it is.
With a couple of races coming up for the team this weekend its a good opportunity to think about that specific challenge. The mind is probably now on what your current threshold pace is and how you might pace it. The usual things come up in your mind. Hold back early, dont go too hard, remember to have great form under fatigue.
Trouble is that the biggest race is going on inside your head. Thats where the race is run. You dare to dream and then quickly reassess the situation. You rationalise your current context. Recovering form last race, building up training, life’s been busy. All of which sound reasonable. You have already started the fight.
They say that when you feel like you are at your perceived limit, that you aren’t anywhere near your potential within. I can hear you saying it now. Probably nodding you head even. But where you are now is good enough. You love what you do and its all about fun. Sure it’s all about fun… but there’s more fun to be had if we let it in.
Shut down your perceptions. The real race is within yourself. Fight it, every time it gives you an excuse, ask it for proof. Keep doing that. 3, 4 , 8 times even. Create doubt about the story you are setting up.
Yesterday Thomas Leuchten did his 5k TT in Munich. Current time was mid 18’s and he started the internal conversation. What he did next was what we want. He stopped the conversation and took it out harder than he previously thought possible. He went through all the usual highs and lows but stuck to his guns and just tried to hold his forward lean for as long as possible. And then just drove it home with whatever he had left. End result was his first time under 18.
Remember the 4minute mile story. Nobody could break it. Until Roger Bannister did and created an avalanche.
The only thing you should doubt, is doubt itself.
Race with courage !

The Complexity of Performance

Most people get confused with achieving high performance. It can be a complex animal and has the ability to create doubt when cause and effect takes place. One thing is improved and it can cause a problem elsewhere. You might increase volume but that means you’ll be more tired. It will mean you need more food. It will mean you wont have the ability to do the race intensity sessions with the same intent.

You might focus on technique but that means you have less time for volume. It will mean you have to commit fully to a review and reflect process, thus meaning less time for other things.

There isn’t a secret formula for handling this complexity. It’s hard, but when it’s hard you need support. You need direction. You need coaching. That’s what makes it less complex and overwhelming.


When an athlete trains and races they are sub-consciously setting a level. A level that goes across the board. To their family and friends, their coach, their team-mates ….. themselves !

At that stage they are setting the level of accountability for everything. If the athlete misses sessions regularly then the coach will start to  create beliefs around that. If the athlete misses a social occasion because they have a big race coming up then the friends will start to understand them.

Accountability isn’t coming from your words – it’s coming from your actions. Make sure you realise that your actions speak louder than your words.


If you are going to engage in coaching (and you should) I suggest you get your head around being coachable. No use listening to someone if you don’t want to try what they are suggesting.

To be coachable you have to be willing to be the sculptor and the clay.

You have to drive the process and engage in the concept of someone supporting you.


There’s a fair chance when you are embarking on a journey of achieving a goal that you’ll be judging yourself in the negative for being able to reach your dreams.


We could all make a strong case against ourselves for any endeavour if we really try. I’ve heard all the reasons. All of them external to ourselves.

Do not. I repeat. Do not build a case against yourself. Stand up against those thoughts and fight for your dreams.

You can’t think your way to Success

Many try and many fail.

Mick Fanning didn’t become a World Champion surfer by kind of training for a year

Jack Nicklaus didn’t become a golfing great by playing a round every second weekend.

Every single success came from years of dedication, focus and hard work. Hard work like your Dad did at the factory 40 hours a week. Plain old simple hard work.

You can’t think your way to success.  It takes pure hard work.


The First Thought

It all starts with the first thought. It has magical properties. It’s the core ingredient in the cake. 

When you are about to set out on an endeavour you get one there. That one is usually based around I think I might do this.

When you are I need the middle of your endeavour it’s usually based around is this worth it?

Its the first thought each day that sets up the internal conversation. If it’s based from fear it will be a flight or fight answer. If it’s based from gratitude you can only win. If it’s based on calm confidence it’s probably just right.

Sometimes but we can’t control the first thought. That’s the issue. We wake up and the thought can just head to fear all on it’s own. So then make the second thought yours to own.

Waking up in fear ? Next thought should be calm and based in your breath. Make it yours.

This is your chance to set it up. Make it a good one.


We never really see our own success

You probably don’t realise you are already successful. If you asked 10 people that didn’t know you and your situation to interview you they would end up saying that you have built some great success.

So are we really chasing success or the feeling of success? We think that “x” or “y” will give us that feeling. And it does. But not for long. The feeling dissipates and we start talking ourselves out of it. It was a fast day or there weren’t many competitors.

Don’t chase the feeling of success. Chase the feeling of chasing success. It’s much more ongoing and feels good every time you lay down at night.