Having had a health scare towards the end of 2016 and in recognition of how my hobby of taking part in Ironman races had been getting increasingly difficult in recent years, I decided it was time to get some coaching for my planned race in Lanzarote in May 2017. It was around this time I learned that Dave was taking up coaching full time and having spent many a Sunday morning desperately (and generally unsuccessfully) trying to cling onto his bike wheel, I contacted him to find out more.
Dave explained that his approach to training was pretty high tech in that it focused on monitoring power during the cycle and heart rate for the swim and run elements of the triathlon training. He demonstrated the Training Peaks software that he uses to drive and monitor each of his athlete’s training programme and it was all very impressive but actually pretty simple once it was explained. Essentially, Dave will set you a set of training sessions each week and for each one he will provide you with a target or targets. When you complete the session, you press ’stop’ on your Garmin and details of your execution are automatically loaded so that Dave can see exactly how you performed and you then swap feedback with one another on how you felt, how you might differ your approach next time if it was a struggle and most importantly of all, to give you praise when it was due.
We agreed to start a comprehensive training programme in December and by the end of the first month I had lost a stone and had noticed I was already going considerably faster in all disciplines without necessarily increasing the effort. The training schedule gradually picked up but I never once felt that I was being overloaded and continued to see continuous improvements to the extent that people I was struggling to keep up with on the bike before I started the structured training were now being comfortably dropped on hills!
Like most people trying to juggle a career, a family and a full-time job that involves lots of travelling, I was unable to hit every target and execute every training session - on more than one occasion I discovered that the advertised ‘pool’ of a hotel turned out to be little more than a hot tub! Despite this and throughout the journey, Dave calmly adjusted the training programme to accommodate the many changes life’s priorities forced on us.
Come race day, I was as prepared as I have ever been for an Ironman race and was confident that if I could master my open water swimming panic attacks, I would nail the race. As it happened, things didn’t go according to plan due to a schoolboy error I made 10 days before the race by trying out a brand new pair of running shoes for a long run, which caused severe bruising on the soles of both feet. That said, I was delighted with my performance on both the swim, during which I conquered many demons, and the incredibly tough bike leg. I have no doubt that had I not done something so stupid and broke every rule in the book by trying out new shoes so close to race day, I would have completed the race and in a time that I would have only dreamed of without Dave’s expert advice.
I cannot praise Dave’s services enough - he is a terrific coach for anyone wanting to improve their cycling and / or triathlon abilities, but is also someone you strongly feel has your back and understands. Thanks Dave for all your help - I am truly sorry for being an idiot with the shoes or this testimonial would have had a happier ending!
Lee Runciman (retired Ironman athlete)