The New Zealand city of New Plymouth and the Taranaki region is a place close to my heart after living there between the ages of 9 to 13. Some of my best childhood memories were made there. One of them is of a kid called Jamie Turner, who used to hang around with his BMX and ride with my younger brother.
Fast forward 30 something years and I have bumped in to Jamie now as one of the leading triathlon coaches in the world.
Turner has a passion for his homeland which extends to using his triathlon experience to inspire and support Taranaki whanau to participate in triathlon and other multi-discipline events to pursue a hauora journey (a healthier lifestyle) and to improve the holistic health and wellbeing of Taranaki Māori.
This weekend Jamie will join forces with the Taranaki Toa triathlon group to present at and support a camp for its members at Muru Raupatu Marae. In all, 32 members will be attending the fully subscribed weekend.
The purpose is to bring the members together, share knowledge and engage in training activities to help them on their journey to participate in events on the triathlon calendar, including IronMaori, TriMaori, the Mounga TriSeries and Ironman in 2017.
This hauora journey is far more enjoyable when travelled with others. It’s the hope that the camp will provide the burgeoning athletes with information to help them along on their journeys. It’s also an opportunity to bring everyone together in an environment where they can support each other in a weekend of exercise and activity, pushing their limits and extending them to achieve beyond our own expectations.
There will be a mix of novices, experienced and seasoned triathlon campaigners. After all, everyone started in the same place. None are professional athletes, we exercise more for life than competition, however some of have learned valuable lessons along the way, and are happy to share these experiences with participants. We will also get advice from experts to assist us on our journey.
Taranaki Toa was formed in 2012; the dream of a small but intensely passionate group of Taranaki whānau who wanted to influence positive change and create a hauora (health & wellness) pathway for Taranaki whānau to participate in regular physical activity and pursue a healthy lifestyle through triathlon. Taranaki Toa was inspired by the example of the highly successful ironmaori kaupapa in Napier.
For Taranaki Toa, pursuing a hauora journey – through regular physical activity and training in the disciplines of triathlon – is a wonderful, enriching experience. Those who have made a start on this journey, say you can’t explain it – the joy and fulfilment that it brings. Yes, sometimes there is pain and there is definitely sacrifice but the rewards are great.
They also work at sharing the wider hauora message with whānau, focusing on the benefits of good nutrition/diet and regular exercise, as well as the inherent risks and harm associated with illicit drug use, alcohol, smoking and gambling.
For them, Taranaki Toa is based on some key values – aroha (caring for others), whanaungatanga (relationships), manaakitanga (supporting others) and pono (integrity). They also have tikanga (agreed practices) that guide them. For example, the karakia (recite a prayer) at the beginning of each activity.
This is a precious kaupapa that motivates, supports and energises them. It is open to anyone – young or old, short or tall, large or small – who wants to participate and embrace these values. They are not exclusively Māori, although make no bones about it, Māori are the target audience because poor Māori health and wellbeing is shortening the lives of whānau everywhere. But some of the staunchest supporters and advocates are non-Māori, and they are a very important part of the whānau.
From very small and humble beginnings, Taranaki Toa has continued to grow and inspire whanau to pursue healthier and active lifestyles. The Taranaki Toa Triathlon Facebook page currently has more than 850 members, and is increasing. They constantly meet people who have drawn inspiration from their posts and who now share the journey with them. They have members from all over Aotearoa (New Zealand) and it is incredible to see how far their message reaches.
The Ability to Suffer – Go Deeper
What is the definition of talent? Having coached athletes for many years, in my experience the one thing that can really outweigh physical talent is the ability to hurt, suffer or endure pain.
Here’s the interesting thing about pain. The way we judge our pain actually does more damage than the physical pain itself. The pain alone is always neutral, it just is as it is. The second the mind comes in to resist that pain, the physical messages that the body receives are amplified.
Enduring physical pain is possible as long as we remind ourselves that it is just information. If we don’t resist we are giving pain an exit point, and it is then free to circulate around our bodies, while we operate under load.
Once the mind starts to label and tag pain, that’s when things start to get a lot more difficult. As soon as judgement steps in, identifying pain as “bad”, then you may as well drop a 40kg weight onto your back. Most people just don’t realise that this is happening and thus struggle with the same issues again and again. Athletes constantly adjust their training in a never-ending effort to overcome an issue that is not actually arising from within their physical bodies.
When coaches talk about the ability of an athlete to suffer, this is what we are referring to. It’s not a physical ability; it is a psychological application of the refusal to judge pain. It is pure acceptance and non-resistance to what is happening in this moment. As athletic careers evolve, I imagine many athletes don’t even realise that they have reached this point. It becomes a matter of due course; unless we can overcome the judgement of pain, we will never reach a high performance level.
So how do we achieve this? We have to try and become aware that whenever we are looking at pain from the perspective of a person, ‘the one that has history and a relationship with pain in the memory bank’, it will be amplified. The mind will always make a story around the pain we are in by attaching it to a past negative experience.
Once we make anything personal it is no longer neutral. In much the same way that we have stuffed those past painful experiences deep into our subconscious, the pain we are in right now becomes compressed. Like any compression this creates pressure, and it’s only a matter of time until the pressure becomes too great and the cracks start to appear. Inevitably, on course performance starts to suffer as a direct result.
Post-race evaluations often lead to the wrong conclusions, causing coaches and athletes to push even harder in training and digging an ever deeper hole. A hole that often leads to early retirement, or in some well-known cases concerning world class athletes, the sacking of coaches as the public calls for blood and someone to blame.
In my opinion many sporting bodies could do with looking at this closer. As a nation it is clear to me that we continue to create the same mistakes over and over again without addressing the problem, or worse, by not learning from our mistakes. If we continue to deliver the same approach, then we must expect to get the same result. Throwing more money and pressure into the pot only creates a culture that encourages athletes to crack at key moments when it matters most. If you don’t believe me, look at our last Olympics.
We are human beings, not machines. It is very difficult for a human being with so much history and conditioning to not take things personally. However, we can learn to allow pain; we can learn to let it circulate without judging it through non-resistance of what is unfolding. And, if we can learn to let this moment be neutral, then pain can get transmuted directly into performance. This happens when we become connected to the performance itself, in the sense that the process is all there is in this moment.
What’s the lesson? “The more personal you make a moment, the more painful it will become”.
Are you willing to try a new approach?
Kona: The Mind Games
Kona is nature itself. There is nothing in that nature that is confronting, it is as it is. It’s totally neutral. It’s power in its rawest sense. Kona serves up nothing we are not prepared to face physically.
What Kona does do though is force us to face our own inner demons of conditioning and judgement. What demons you say? I am not enough, I am not worthy, I am not fast enough, I haven’t done enough, my taper wasn’t perfect. Kona makes us face ourselves, our conditioning and our belief systems. In essence the only war that is going on in Kona is the war of the mind, inside our own heads x 2,000 people.
I look at my own journey many years ago in my first Kona experiences. I can vividly remember my first race there in 1991, brand new to Ironman, having only done one Ironman before it. Young, dumb, wide eyed and the experience was tremendous, I had no expectations and I loved the natural power of Kona, in fact I still do. Because I was open I had a great day, it was just a great experience and a faster race than my first Ironman. The next Ironman I did was a lot faster and so was every other race I did that year, all of a sudden I went from participant to potential top 10. The weight of that expectation I felt heavily in Kona on my second attempt, and I followed Scott Tinley up to Hawi. That was a huge mistake; he was older, way stronger and far more experienced. I was in way over my head because I was lost in the mind and I blew it.
The island was exactly the same as it was the year before, but my inner state was different. The control, the compression, had destroyed any chance I had for a great race, because I had lost flow with the island itself. I was out of synchronicity, and when you are out of sync with Kona, you are essentially out of the race.
The island is neutral in that it is the way it is regardless of conditions. However we are not, my arrogance had cost me the race. But it’s the same for all of us when we look through the window of the mind. My future, My past, My arrogance, My fears.
The moment is as it is, the island is as it is. That’s an indisputable fact, it is reality.
What then is the best way to approach the race? NOW the simple powerful act of working with what is front of you right in this moment. Maximising the moment. However your mind doesn’t want that, it wants to run the show and it’s our belief system that gets in the way, mostly through our conditioning and past.
We wear this conditioning, but this conditioning is an illusion.
So the answer is to transcend the mind and merge with what is real, we can choose to make our inner state part of the environment. We are anyway, we have just forgotten it.
So let’s look at what intimidates you really about Kona and the Ironman. Is it the heat? The wind? The humidity? No, these are simple practicalities of the race.
Let’s make this clear, you are intimidated by your own thoughts. You have to try to become aware of this because it is the greatest source of suffering for an athlete on that black top. Get it straight, you are suffering under the tyranny of your own mind and thinking. Realise also that so is everyone else in this race. We polarise each other into thinking this way and its bullshit.
But herein lies your opportunity for a shift that can take you forward massively in this race. Turn your back on this illusion and just deal with what is on your plate in this moment only. Be part of that incredible environment and the whole dynamic of your experience changes. You go from the sufferer to the King or Queen.
You wield your inner power through merging it with the power of that island. It’s as simple as a choice to work with the moment and be truly in that experience boots and all, instead of lost in the mind with its judgements and negative thoughts based on a past that is no longer real.
This race and this Island do not exist to kill you as the mind would have you believe; only the mind can do that.
We can and do analyse Kona before-hand. We spend weeks, even months, we could analyse it for a 1000 years but you will still have to experience it for yourself. That analysis itself is then not real either because it is essentially a projection into the future. Put too much stock in that future and you are doomed before you start. That’s the truth of it.
The Island is not noisy; it is stillness in its rawest form. If you match that stillness on race day you will match the energy that is already present in this special place.
The Island is indiscriminate, it can help you or it can hinder based on how you approach it with your own inner climate. If it hinders you or tortures you, that is a choice that you are making through the mind and its judgements.
“You are determining your reality out there”
Just get down to the bare essentials of YOU and the ISLAND. No future, no past, no little intense me and my story. We are not talking to the mind now, we are dealing directly with reality, just leave all the bullshit behind and be with the moment the way it is served up to you.
Misconception, false identity. Why this loyalty to what does not serve you? Why be a servant? You are the master and the mind is your servant, not the other way around. Get out there and overcome the false you, and you can’t help but feel the magic of Kona.
Bastard Desire – The drive for greatness most often trumps talent
I remember reading an article once by a guy named Derek Hynd, Derek is a writer for Australian surf media. He was one of Australia’s, if not the world’s, first surf coaches. He is also an eccentric character, a bit of a loner and a very depth thinker. Just the sort of person it takes to pick up on things that other people would otherwise miss.
I was and remain a big fan and I remember reading an article of his about 20 years ago regarding competition. It’s often interesting to draw parallels between different sports, what are the common denominators etc. By accident, I came across the article re- run as part of the history of Australian surf coaching and that article centred around what Derek referred to as Bastard Desire. He hinted at the fact that you can’t be truly great without it and that Bastard Desire is the father of success metered out by hard times survived, the digger spirit, if you will.
Triathlon has become a bit of a complex animal, we tend to like to market the idea that it is complex but the juice of it, at least for me as a coach, is in the competition and accountability of each person. When I look at new athletes these days who tell me they want to achieve a certain goal or develop into a competitive athlete the first thing I ask myself as I work with them is do I see the Bastard Desire? That desire can be loud in some personalities and that desire can be silent in others but it’s always obvious to me.
Competition is a psychology in itself. I often find that the drive for greatness comes from a less than perfect childhood or history of being bullied, being the youngest, being the smallest. Sometimes the resolve that is created to survive childhood intact creates winners and sometimes people are just born with that fire.
Bastard desire will always trump talent simply because the juice in that desire is the fuel that allows an athlete to survive the setbacks that are necessary for true development. In my view, the tricky element is to allow the Bastard Desire to be, and to draw energy from it, without it becoming anxiety. I think it’s absolutely key for an athlete to learn about themselves and to take responsibility for their own commitment and, more than that, to take responsibility for the way they think and feel. I believe that all greats find this space by accident or design. At some point these people must realise that their juice is, and has always been, inside themselves.
Unfortunately, anxiety is the flip side of Bastard Desire. From my observations, too much future too much past are often the weights that hang around athletes’ necks. I think it’s important to understand that without these traits of desire and anxiety it is difficult to find the drive to be a good athlete and the trick is to allow that Bastard Desire to be and to learn to deal with the flip side not through self- judgement, but through self-observation. The only way out, is in.
There are many examples of Bastard Desire throughout history. Anyone who has done any reading around the Japanese Samurai code will see that the development of that desire and the control of it has been in play for thousands of years through meditation. An athletes almanac of how to control pre- race anxiety and how to deal with the moments that a race hands out hides in the pages of Samurai warrior code or sections of Sun Tzu’s â€œArt of warâ€. A text that is so very old points to optimal performance coming from stillness of mind and the energy of desire.
In these days of ever increasing technology, screens, data, time trial preoccupation, rampant marketing through fear, I often wonder what advancements we are ignoring at the hands of this anxiety.
From what I have experienced and witnessed: In the end, the only single thing that is concrete is the athlete’s accountability to themselves. Success is a product of an athlete’s inner journey not an outward journey. If you are looking for answers don’t look for them out there, there’s nothing you need out there.
Your juice is in the place it always has been. Monks and the military leaders from centuries past realised that the real juice of performance excellence exists deep in the gut of each human and can be accessed for optimal performance through self-observation and stillness.
Want something that’s real? Tune your Bastard Desire. It will do a lot more for you than that next 20min FTP. Thanks Derek.
The Ultimate Triathlon Cycling Camp – Noosa 2013
Join Henk Vogels, Patrick Jonker and Ben Johnson as they ride with you through sunny Noosa and it’s beautiful surrounds.
The VOGELS.TS Noosa training camp for cyclists and triathletes includes organised and supervised rides captained by Henk Vogels, Patrick Jonker and Ben Johnson, resort/share apartment accommodation, individual Coaching appo intment for all participants, a six week follow up training guide, run clinics, swim sessions, evening seminars with professional cycling and triathlon coaches and guest appearances, bike fit experts,bike workshop with pro mechanics, massage, stretch classes and much more.
One of the focuses for triathletes will be time trialling. Henk Vogels was one of the best in the game at time trialling and he will share his knowledge with you.
With resort style accommodation, an exciting guest appearance list, a wealth of knowledge on training and racing with power and heart rate and a location that is arguably one of the most beautiful in Australia,Â this is a must for your 2013 Training Calendar.
Visit the VOGELS.TS website for more information on both the Noosa Training Camp and other fully guided Cycling holidays.
Former Professional Cyclist and Olympian
Henk Vogels turned pro at the age of fiteen and throughout his professional cycling career rode for some of the best teams in the world including Rabobank, Gan, Credit Agricole and Lotto Davitamon.
Henk represented Australia at two Olympic Games and won a Gold medal for Australia in the 1994 Commonwealth Games Team Time Trial.Â He has competed in two Tour de France races, two Giro d’Italia races and two Vuelta’s.Â He has finished in the top ten of Paris-Roubaix twice.
Henk now joins forces with Sydney’s Premier Training House – Turbo Studio, conducting Cycling Tours and Training Camps within Australia and further afield to Europe and Asia.
Henk brings the spirit of the professional Peloton to your cycling experience with VOGELS.TS.
Guest Appearance by PATRICK JONKER
Former Professional Cyclist and Olympian
Former Professional Cyclist and Australian Olympian Patrick Jonker the VOGELS.TS Team for the Noosa Training Camp. Patrick was a professional rider from 1993 – 2004 representing Australia twice at the Olympics.Â Throughout his cycling career Patrick rode for ONCE, Rabobank, US Postal and BigMat-Auber.
Patrick will be Captaining Rides and speaking at our evening seminars.
HENK VOGELSÂ Â COMMONWEALTH TEAM TIME TRIAL GOLD MEDALLIST
Henk Vogels was part of the Australian Team at the 1994 Commonwealth Games who hold the unofficial record of 1:53:10 for the 100km Team Time Trial taking out the Gold Medal.
The discipline and patience required to Time Trial efficiently and the know how to correctly implement the strategy holds the key to a better Time Trial result.Â Â Mental preparation is also critical.Â Henk presents a talk on bringing all the necessary elements together to improve your Time Trial performance including both preparation in training and on race day.
Noosa Training Camp 2013 holds a wealth of knowledge just waiting to be tapped into by you this August.Â Â Former and current professional athletes and professional Coaches are at hand to equip you with effective training and racing knowledge that will improve your understanding of how to increase your power on the bike and run.Â Â Additionally we will address elements of your swim with sessions tailored to improve your technique and stroke.
Noosa 13 caters equally to Cyclists and Triathletes and whilst run, bike and swim sessions are run in group format, the individual coaching appointments are your moment to tell us exactly what you want to achieve in your upcoming season.Â Â Thirty minutes of undivided attention with one of our professional Coaches or former Professional Athletes to discuss your cycling or triathlon objectives.
Craig Alexander launches cutting edge triathlon camp
Need some science behind your sweat, or a dose of inspiration from a triathlon legend? Want to spend two days picking Crowie’s brain and getting to know him personally?
There are a few spots remaining for Craig Alexander’s triathlon training camp, to be held in Wollongong, just an hour from Sydney airport, from February 8 to 10. This will be a fun two days and an amazing learning experience.
The camp features professional testing from the University of Wollongong’s biomedical science team, including a sub-maximal bike test and run gait analysis. They’ve secured external experts in nutrition and exercise physiology . . . and a surprise appearance from an Olympian is on the cards! National high performance coaching staff member Jamie Turner and NSWIS/ITU physiotherapist and bike fitter Alex Price are also on board.
Added to this will be plenty of access to Alexander, the three time Hawaii Ironman champion, via a formal Q&A session, hands-on involvement in training sessions and informal chats around the camp.
The three-day camp will be based at the University of Wollongong, an hour south of Sydney Airport, from February 8 to 10, 2013. The camp is open to all ages and ability, with tutorial groups graded according to experience and skill levels. Members of Triathlon Australia are being offered a substantial discount.
â€œAs a full time professional athlete for over a decade I’ve been fortunate enough to train with, be trained by, and compete against some of the greats of our sport,â€ Alexander said. â€œIÂ would like to be able to share what I know to help athletes at any levelÂ and pass on some of the things I’ve learnedÂ throughout my career . . . hopefully that can help people avoid some tough lessons. I genuinely love the sport â€“ and the way in which it attracts people from all walks of life â€“ so guiding and, hopefully, inspiring, a small and committed group seems like a natural progression for me.
â€œThis camp will be a unique and personalised experience, exposing athletes to a scientific component not commonly available by way of sub-maximal bike testing, utilising the first-class facilities of the university. It will be an action-packed and fun couple of days and the aim is to walk away with some knowledge and practical tools, so that you can continue to improve and enjoy the triathlon lifestyle. I’m looking forward to being heavily involved and being part of the journey for those wanting to get the most out of themselves.â€
The camp, with numbers to be strictly limited numbers, includes:
- All meals, including dinner at award-winning Lagoon Seafood Restaurant
- 2 nights twin share accommodation at Marketview Hotel (single rooms for an additional $70) Lectures by a nutritionist, exercise physiologist and bike fitting expert
- Sub-maximal bike testingand gait analysis by the University’s Biomedical Science team
- Graded tutorial training groups of eight people each to ensure skill-appropriate sessions
- Access to state-of-the-art facilities at the University of Wollongong
- Q & A session, training tips and andÂ “war stories”Â by Crowie
This would make the perfect Christmas present orÂ literally get you off to a flying start in 2013.Â All-inclusive cost of $803 for Triathlon Australia members (or $895 for non-TA members)
To register, email your name and contact details to [email protected] Â Booking priority will be according to order of reply, so register now to ensure you don’t miss out. Visit www.craigalexander.net for further details as the camp is finalised.Â
Tri Dynamic team up with Darren Smith for ‘Dsquad’ Australian Triathlon Camp
Following on from their successful first collaboration in London just after the Olympics, triathlon training camp specialists Tri Dynamic have teamed up once again with Elite â€˜Dsquad’ Coach Darren Smith. This time they will be heading back to Darren Smith’s native Australia to organise another high quality, high attention triathlon camp open to age group and elite triathletes who are keen to learn from Darren Smith. The nation’s capital is a fitting location for this unique camp which will take place over the National â€˜Australia Day’ holiday weekend from Friday 25th to Monday 28th January 2013.
The Dsquad Australia Tri Camp will be limited to just 15 athletes who will have the unique opportunity to work closely with Darren Smith and his world class support team including Dsquad Dietician Dr Liz Broad, Physio Roz Penfold and Rehab Specialist Rick Van Riemsdijk. They will spend 4 amazing days with Darren Smith in Canberra in his world class coaching environment, learning from him in all 3 disciplines. There will also be Special Guest Speakers including Dsquad running techniqueÂ advisorÂ Rob Higley who is now based in Kenya. Over the years he has worked with several of the top runners in the world including helping 800m sensation and World Record Holder David Rudisha with his running technical work in his teenage years.
The lucky camp participants will not only have the unique opportunity to watch the world famous Dsquad athletes training and preparing for the new season but also to join in on some of the sessions! For any athletes racing the Aussie National Sprint Champs in Canberra on the SUN Darren Smith will assist them with their race preparations and on race day which is a fantastic opportunity.
Commenting on the London Master Class Darren Smith said Â â€˜I got a kick out of working with those who attended the Tri Dynamic training weekend in London because the enthusiasm from the participants was infectious and frankly it was pretty easy to make some really significant changes in such a short period of time. Bang for bucks, both time and energy is good for everyone.’
Darren Smith has been the driving force behind the hugely successful Dsquad. Over the last decade he has produced athletes who have won multiple World titles and countless ITU World Championship Series victories. Darren Smith and the D-squad split their time training in Davos, Sedona and Canberra. He has a knack of taking on athletes who have the necessary raw talent and helping them to achieve their full potential, moulding them into the best triathletes in the world. These include Olympic Silver medallist and 4 x World Champion, Lisa Norden,Â #2 ranked 2012 WCS finisher Anne Haug, multiple WCS winner and former world #1 Barbara Riveros Diaz, 4th place finisher at London Olympics, Sarah Groff, GB Olympian Vicky Holland and South African Olympian Katie Roberts. He is the only triathlon coach to have 6 athletes competing at London 2012 in any one event.Â He has also coached several athletes to 70.3 and Ironman podiums including Belgian Bart Aernouts (2nd IM Switzerland 70.3, 11th at 2012 Kona and fastest run split of the day).
New recruits to the D-squad already making their mark after working with Darren Smith include GB’s Jodie Stimpson (3rd at 2012 Hy-Vee Triathlon, 5th in WCS Auckland) & the fast improving duathlete turned triathlete Katie Hewison (GE Canary Wharf Triathlon Champion, 2012 ITU Duathlon World Silver medallist & 2012 ITU Triathlon Cancun World Cup winner). Darren Smith has also had huge success coaching his athletes to victories in non-drafting races including the prestigious Des Moines Hy-Vee Triathlon where Sweden’s Lisa Norden & GB’s Jodie Stimpson placed 1st & 3rd in 2012 with Lisa Norden recording back-to-back victories in 2011 & 2012.
â€˜The entire Dsquad will be around and working towards the new season ahead so there will be time to join in with the group. Four days working with us will be plenty to make a significant impact on each participant’s race performances.‘ Darren Smith
The Canberra camp will be an invaluable opportunity to learn how Darren Smith coaches his athletes and also to have a unique glimpse into what it is like to train in a world class environment. Participants who attended the London Triathlon Master Class with Darren Smith have reported some amazing improvements within a very short space of time.
Tri Dynamic and Darren Smith will be working together on other events around the world in 2013 including another Master Class in London in FEB, so keep an eye on their website for details coming soon. You can email Tri Dynamic to be among the first people to be notified once the next London Master Class is announced. Places will be strictly limited. For your chance to attend this amazing camp early booking is advisable as places are limited. Visit www.tridynamic.co.uk
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