Previous Questions

Question 5


What about rollers? I was thinking of getting a set sand selling my Turbo. To my mind it looks like it is better for balance and is more natural than magnetic resistance.

Barry O’C (Dublin)


My answer:

An interesting question……. Here is my take – if I had rollers I guess I would use them, and if I had a turbo I guess I would use it. While I prefer turbos both will work. Rollers have the advantage that you focus on your balance and while on turbos you can just do much better intervals as you focus more on the power. At the end of the day thats what most triathlete need most…..especially in the PB3 style of coaching.

In an ideal world I would do warm up and cool down on rollers and the main set on a turbo, in the real world most people dont even have enough space to store their bikes :)

Regarding, natural resistance, I can only say that I only get the same feeling in my legs – like in a race – on my turbo and I think the only thing better than a turbo trainer is the Kew boulevard in Melbourne!

And since I get asked all the time what are my favorite turbos I would say the tacx flow – I also like the tacx satori – we all have our favourites :)

And yes I totally agree with those people that make fun of turbo trainer sessions in the summer – as long as I dont have to coach them ;-)


Question 4

Dear Peter

We have noted that you have coached many Irish champions would you like to write a 12 week program for our readers?

a question from a triathlon website (which actually does some really interesting stuff)


My answer (shortened)

Thank you for your email, but I have to be very honest I have never shown a 12 week programme to any of my clients so I cant write a 12 weeks programme for your readers ……. one of my clients recently had a 15 week programme written (and yes it was a very very good program) by somebody and the result was pretty much a stress fracture in week 6.

By the way, again there is an exception to everything and I actually I have given a 12 week programme to one athlete but this guy was a machine of consistency and in bed by 9 o’clock lights out at 9.15 … than you have a lot less X s in your planning …


Article: Wayne Goldsmith has posted an thought provoking article entitled “Coaching without Periodisation

Many coaches get bogged down with the process of periodization. Planning an athletes’s season, including what preparation is necessary for the identified goal competitions, is the most common way for coaches and athletes to plan – i.e. work toward specificity in training, and then plan backwards to today, to build up towards those training and competition objectives.

Another way is to take the approach of where the is athlete currently, what are they capable of today; coaching in the moment, ‘in the now’ as Brett Sutton has described his approach. Darren Smith also talks about his approach in the comments below the article. This approach has advantages; allowing more time to develop capabilities and skills, which can often take longer than ‘planned’ to achieve, and give them time to bed in, and stick, ie. make real, significant and stable changes to performance. This way athletes only progress to new training objectives at the right times, rather than a pre-determined ‘6 week block’ or other arbitrary period of time, or worse, progress because they have to ‘peak by friday’ for an upcoming competition. Many coaches following more ‘text-book’ approaches don’t dedicate enough time to developing any particular capability, and thus limit the athletes’ improvement, year over year.

The big idea here is the following:

“The key principle is this: every time we work with an athlete, it is our responsibility to ensure that the training we provide is the optimal stimulus for them – at that moment, at that time and specific to their unique physical and mental status as they exist right now; ”

This is where coaching, or ‘real coaching’, as Dr Sousa would say, comes into play. The art of coaching is being present, ‘on deck’, observing, and communicating with athletes about what is the right session for the day. Working with the Canadian national team in Victoria, I’d often come to the pool, or training session with an idea of what specific training I wanted to accomplish with the athletes that day, but I would watch the warm up and get a sense of where each athlete was at before setting instructions for the main work of the session. This is why I tend not to write sessions on the white board at the pool, or simply write up one set at a time, in case I decide to change from the session I first had in mind while the athletes are warming up, after having spoken to and observed them, or when they are doing the first main set. I would rather they aren’t aware that the set or session has changed, in order to avoid the feeling that they may have ‘failed’ by not being able to complete the original ‘planned’ session – which is not the case, it’s simply my coaching process to make a decision about what is the right stimulus/amount/type of work on that given day. The method takes into account how the athlete has recovered from the previous days sessions, what they already may have done that day, or have coming up that same day, and what follows the next day. I see these as all in flux based on individual responses and adaptation to the training load, and it’s the coaches job to make good decisions about what is the right training for each athlete on any given day. This process is hard to do effectively via distance coaching. The most skilled coaches can be very good at estimating what an athlete should be able to accomplish on a given day within a programme, however these skills are difficult to develop when mostly sitting behind a screen.

Planning is of course important, as much as a coaching process to drive thinking about where an athlete is and how they can progress toward their goal performances, however good coaching is about good decision making, and if the planning process over-rides observation, intuition and experience in the moment, then the ‘plot’ is being lost.

There are lots of other thought provoking articles on Wayne Goldsmith’s site Sport Coaching Brain – it’s a great resource for coaches or anyone interested in high performance sport.



Question 3

Everybody seems to have been on fire at Ironman Austria 2011 what are your thoughts on this marios new “world record”

Aoife (Dublin)

Aoife I wish you never started me thinking of this!

Before we start Luc van lierde, former record holder, congratulated Mario on his new record. My favorite quote of the week was a client who nicely put it like this “Peter, I dont think any of those guys care about records they just want to get on with their training. They are very well aware that outside conditions are not consistent. I am much more interested if they achieved their absolute personal best in that race and not the time” a true PB3 athlete ;-)

This is what I truely believe – its very difficult to compare like with like and this is very much applicable for Ireland where there is no doubt that Joyce Wolfe is the Best Irish Ironman ever, no matter how you turn it, it is so clear .



Question 2

“Hi Peter, I am doing an Ironman in 2 weeks’ time and I saw these lovely new cycle shoes, should I buy them?
Craig (Dublin)

Hi Craig,

Thanks for your question and believe it or not you are not the only one to ask …. it’s ironman time and people are getting nervous….

and what do people do when they get nervous? they want to buy new gear …

While I am actually replying and thinking how silly this all is ….I remember the only time I was ever interested in gear was about 2 weeks before an Ironman (and nobody has ever accused me to think to much about gear :) )

But as short as your question is so is my answer!

Rule number one before an ironman or any race, don’t try anything you have not trained with unless you have to
or in other words if it aint broken dont fix it .

I could think of 100’s of stories I’ve heard where people thought by buying something new before the race they would go faster
only to hold a piece of the new ‘tri whatever it is’ in their hand during the race, getting blisters from the new shoe. The stories are endless so all you folks out there remember unless you have to buy something new dont change anything in the last 2 weeks before a race, because invariably you panic ….



Question 1

“I have just started to training for my first triathlon and am not a very experienced swimmer – how can i build up my swimming distances?” – Mary (Kinsale)


Hi Mary,
That’s a good question. First of all you have to ask yourself where your weakness in swimming is, it could be that your technique lets you down,it could be you are not confident enough, or that plain simply you don’t swim enough. The easiest way to improve swimming…. is to swim more…. I am sorry that might sound quite simple but that’s what it is about, if you only go swimming once a week its hard to become a better swimmer.
If it is your technique you feel that is an issue than coached one 2 one sessions might be the way to go . We had a participant in our Endless pool weekend that claims to have improved his 200m time by 25 seconds after attending the camp. In my experience its often also just a case that people dont know how to train. Again that can often be solved with a few one 2 one sessions. For harder swims its always good to have a training partner and joining a master swim group where the coach understands triathlon swimming never hurts. I see really great progress in the sessions i coach and quite a few have come from other master classes where they felt no progress was made.

hope this helps a bit Mary and do remember different strokes for different folks and the people who improve most are usually the ones who really want to improve……. :)