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Guest Blog: Performance Limiters and What to do About Them

TriBlogsby TriBlogsJan 7th 2013
It's time for the first Guest Blog of 2013 and today's article is written by highly experienced endurance coach Neil Scholes of Kinetic-Revolution. Neil¬'s areas of specialty include: Marathon Coaching; Triathlon and Ironman Coaching; Running and Swimming Video Analysis/Technique Coaching. If you want to train smarter this season then read on!
Guest Blog: Performance Limiters and What to do About Them
Performance Limiters and what to do about them

If you are training for your first Ironman Distance Triathlon and I was giving you a choice of swim session, would you rather do 40 x 100m with 10s Rest Intervals or would you rather do 4 x 1000m with 1 min Rest Intervals? The majority of athletes generally would opt for the former, and this alone would tell your coach whether you were naturally comfortable with endurance or shorter session and possibly events. Most athletes train the way they like to train whereas the most successful athletes train the way they need to train.

What is your limiting your triathlon performance? Is it skill, technique, strength, muscular endurance, power or pure endurance? Sit down and look at all the disciplines in a triathlon: swim; bike; run; transition and nutrition then take each of these constructs, be honest and mark yourself out of 10 for each one. You should start to see where your performance is being limited. Then get your coach or a friend or partner to do the same thing; do the scores match? If you are a novice triathlete who has signed up for an Ironman then it is safe to assume you are limited by firstly endurance and secondly skill, particularly, unless you come from a swim background, in the swim.

In the case of an athlete training for the Ironman swim of 3.8km then during the race specific build up period at least one session a week would need to be an endurance type set. This doesn¬'t mean jumping straight into the 4 x 1000m set, it could start with a main set of 3 x 400m and develop from there. Whereas I will always work to improve a Ironman athlete¬'s technique, ultimately come race day they need to swim 3800m as efficiently as possible so we have to do the endurance work.

Similarly, when looking at your bike ability opt initially for endurance work before moving to a muscular endurance phase. You need to be able to cycle 112 miles before you can cycle 112 miles quickly ¬- and then run a marathon off the bike. When it comes to the run in an Ironman event it is an analogous story, as pure speed is almost never the limiter. What is required is a long build that safely enhances run endurance and speed through consistency of training.

In an Ironman Triathlon once you have the ability to swim, cycle and run efficiently and aerobically then you possess the key constructs to put together a winning performance.

Interestingly enough, according to Brett Sutton, if Chrissie Wellington were asked the 40 x 100m versus 4 x 1000m question she would opt for the latter. Whether this is a like or a need I do not know - but as a 4 times Ironman World Champion she knows what works.

Any thoughts about this blog feel free to comment below or to contact Neil either email him direct at or visit
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