Brett Sutton IM talk interview (part2) IM talk, episode 241

Brett: I have great athletes that have ironman bodies and short course heads. You need the mentality. An athlete he trained said ironman was the most boring thing he had ever done in his life. He stopped and sat on the side of the road! You also have the other people who are the other way round, they can’t do the distance physically but like doing longer stuff slower. Ironman is a psychological makeup.

e.g. swimming grp 6 x 100s flat out 1 every 10 mins, or 300m swim and get out. Distance swimmers would run you over to get to the flat out training side! The distance swimmers hate that pain.

How do you decide who comes into the programme?: Brett gets wannabes looking  for a miracle, lots of girl enquiries (they are more intelligent!) the guys (who don’t like an old guy like macca winning Hawaii) Brett uses the same fundamentals. Winning doesn’t change, the fundamentals do but the mentality stays the same.

‘Successful coaches have one thing in common, they have spent time in his group – Ben Bright. He teaches coaches to be self sufficient. Athletes have to get a feel at what works for them and why. Most important thing from an age group point of view, you can do a good ironman on back of good long training. Trouble comes when you start measuring everything all the time. Some times you’re tired, so people don’t do it, rather than just go a bit slower. Many people bore away in the gray area, either not going fast enough or not slow enough,’

which my coach calls JUNK MILES!!!

‘If you are a data freak, then you won’t get on with Brett at all!! Your confidence will be undermined!! Run like nature intended!! Learn to feel it, feel the technique that suits your body. E.g. if you are inflexible, you won’t be swimming with high elbows!! Instead of doing pilates to correct it, find a stroke that suits you better! How much flexibility do we need in triathlon? None! ‘We spend too much time on the fluff and not enough time on the meat and potatoes!’

If you aren’t a good runner, it’s not about speed, it’s about how much distance you can cover.

Running: how long do you ask your athletes to run? ‘It depends on the athlete. Its different for each person, depends on their physiology.’

People are invited onto team TBB, given 2 years to see if they can make the jump up performance wise after training his way. Without this, there would be no Chrissie Wellington! They are very proud of the team ethic, their heart is in the right place, to look after the athletes. He goes on to discuss the prize pot, and how this affects TV coverage, and interest. He says in real term, triathlon is still an amateur sport, if you compare it to other major sports in the world. People need to ask themselves, how are we going to make this sport big? There are millions of people with MDOT on their leg. How many people do you see with coca-cola on themselves!! It’s a great brand, they need to market it as such, with a prize pot to suit. Team TBB are now looking at new ways to continue their development angles, they want to continue to create career paths for people. There are so many people that deserve a shot, and money doesn’t allow you the ability to give them all a shot.


You haven’t got the guys coming through, is this because of the psychology, you are a hard coach?

‘I am very competitive. That’s why people don’t like me. It’s important for people to realise that in ironman, men argue that the men’s race is harder, but Chrissie is already beating them!? But the men don’t beat his door down to try it his way.’ The men come in TELLING HIM what they need to do. Triathletes see being beaten as a bad thing, Brett also teaches them HOW to win, and HOW to overcome. I came 5th? That’s just a sign that you need to train harder! I do know the way to the top, if THEY have got what it takes.

When you first met Chrissie, did you imagine she would be where she is now?

They argues on day 2! It was obvious from the start that she was extraordinary. He tested her on day 2 on the run. She said that she never ran more than an hour. He sent someone out to run with her telling them to run till she couldn’t run any more, and she ran for 2 hours 40 before he came back because he was bored! Chrissie can push herself hard, on her own. Not all people can.

Team TBB have a saying  – there is no handcuffs. Its fine if they then want to go and try something different.

My thoughts:

·        My coach always talks about ‘junk miles’ and recently I have too been ordered to ‘slow down’ in certain areas. He said that if you train in that ‘grey zone’ as Brett calls it, all the time, eventually you will burn yourself out. You can’t sustain that kind of training and expect improvement.

·        I confess I am a data freak, however I am much better these days at not freaking out completely if I have an off day, and my run coach is working on teaching me to ‘feel’ pace, and often steals my watch, or orders me to take the stop watch screen off! It seems to be working, I often glance at the pace and think ‘jeez I can’t run that fast!’ .. er… Mel, YOU ARE ALREADY!!

You can listen to the interview on IM talk, here 

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