Transcript: Elliott Cole, Triathlete – diary update (Max#5)

Here is the transcript of one of the on-going motivating interviews with Elliott Cole, our aspiring triathlete, as we follow him in his triathlete training as he offers his top tips on maximising triathlon success.

Kevin: So welcome back to the Maximize Potential podcast, the podcast that allows you to maximize your career, business, and life potential by listening to a range of motivating interviews.

Hello everyone! Welcome back to episode five of the Maximise Potential podcast. Today we’re catching up with Elliot Cole our aspiring triathlete and today we will be talking about the importance of outdoor lake swimming and also sleep within his training regime, as well as answering questions about his running shoes, his bike, and also the navigation and training aids that he uses.

Elliott, welcome back and thanks for coming in and doing another podcast! So let’s so let’s kick off with the daily update about what you’ve been up to in the last few weeks in terms of competitions.

Elliott: Well, it’s been a difficult few weeks. I have been battling with a couple of illnesses. Niggling little things. I had a 24-hour virus which then moved into a chest infection and so training wise it’s been slightly more difficult than normal in terms of literally having to get up and say I feel and see how many hours I can put in.

Race wise, obviously, being ill drove me crazy after about 48 hours so I entered a couple of races, one of the first ones being a relay race with a colleague of mine from work. He said we have a run position for a relay that we are doing, do you want to do it? I was bored and hadn’t been training for a couple of days so I thought yet that sounds great.

Kevin: So how does that work? I haven’t really heard of that before.

Elliot: With the relay service, it is a standard triathlon. You swim, bike, and run. Instead of doing all three disciplines you write them down and have a team of three of you in each tackle one discipline that’s really for you.

Kevin: That’s a good idea!

Elliot: Yes, it is really really good for the people who are looking to get into the triathlon or they are not competent enough yet to go into a full three disciplines. One of you does the swim, one of you does the bike, and one of you does the run.

Kevin: Oh wow!

Elliot: So that is a good way to introduce yourself into it and start off, get to the event, get the atmosphere and understand how it works but without the kind of daunting prospect of having to do all three disciplines

Kevin: Nice. So with all your sickness, coughing and spluttering, how did you turn out?

Elliot: Like I said, I did the run. Well, I managed the third fastest run split of the day out of about 130 athletes.

Kevin: You sure you were sick? You weren’t just putting it on.

Elliot: So yes, considering I’m just impatient with the gravelly stage that it was starting to clear and shifting off my chest. I was about 8%, looking at my stride monitor throughout the run and I finished about 42 seconds behind the fastest runner and the eventual winner of the day.

Kevin: So you would’ve easily come first, not just by a little bit, but by a chunk on a normal day.

Elliot: Absolutely!

Kevin: That’s superb, though. I mean, you must’ve been chuffed to go away considering how ill you have been and to know that you still finished that close, only 40 seconds off the winner.

Elliot: Yeah it was one of those things where obviously there’s a positive to it, that you’re 3rd quickest out of 130 athletes and then you look at it as most atheletes would, if I was better or fully fit would’ve come away with the quickest time. But, like you say it’s a positive result given that it’s been a difficult couple of weeks.

Kevin: I forgot to ask you before, which was your favorite discipline out of the three, we were actually competing?

Elliot: I think in terms of the favorite discipline it would have to be open water swim from an enjoyment point of view. But in terms of my strongest discipline, I think it would be running. Even if you’re not into sports, you’re not massively sporty, one of the first things that you do if you’re trying to lose weight or get your fitness levels up is going to hit the pavement and go for a run. It is obviously something that you could do free of charge. You just go put your trainers on and away you go. So, I think that running from stuff that I’ve done in the past is my strongest discipline at the moment.

Kevin: Yeah, excellent. Excellent! So that was obviously your first event, but you have done a full-blown triathlon as well.

Elliot: I have. I did the Eton half-distance on the 22nd of May over at Dawny Lake in Eton which is the Olympic rowing facility. There is quite a lot of triathlons there. It was a sprint distance, so is half Olympic, 750m swim, 20km bike, and 5km run. It was a similar thing where I was just starting to get over the illness, putting my feelers out to see how I do against my PVs. There was about 530 athletes out there and I came 25th overall and fifth in my age group.

Kevin: That sounds amazing! From the outside, and I know you’re going to criticize it and everything else, but again you must’ve been pretty chuffed about it.

To be honest, I was quite surprised because there were so many athletes out there. In all of the events, when you get to 500 entries or more they break it down into age groups. I was in the under 30s. There was about 100 people in my wave, so to come 5th in about 100 athletes.. There were some really really quick guys out there as well. There was a couple of GV athletes and one of them was the eventual winner of the whole event. It was hard at the time because there were some athletes out there that time, to know where I was positioned. I was overtaking people every hundred meters and you go by five or six people and then you get to the finish line.

Most people go for their last lap of the run, but your across the line and you don’t know when you are finished because there is no kind of timing screens. I was surprised with the results afterwards to know how strong I was.

Kevin: Just out of interest, how far were you off the winner? I mean, what sort of benchmark?

Elliot: I think I was about seven minutes down, which is a massive amount of time to lose. Unknowingly, most of it was lost on the run. I was about four minutes low on the run which is a huge amount. That four minutes was the difference between my normal running pace and the eventual pace that dividend at the event. So four minutes over 5K is quite a big chunk of time.

Kevin: so, overall, apart from being sick and everything else you have a couple of good events under your belt. Even though you’ve been feeling rubbish, it must to give you confidence for when you’re feeling back again.

Elliot: yes, it has given me a bit of a boost to know that once I am back 200% again it kind of shows what I should be able to do in the months coming up.

Kevin: right, that’s excellent. Now let’s move into your training focus section that we are going to talk about. I remember the last interview, you were saying that you are going to start heading over in the early mornings to the cold lakes. To talk about that, because I guess you have been submerged in the water now.

Elliot: Yes, the lakes opened up about two weeks ago so that has been the main focus. There have been quite a lot of mornings getting the wetsuit in the morning and focusing on Muslim stroke. It is good to get out there and get in the kind of salt that you’re going to be in for the race so you can get some practice starts. Obviously, the cold water makes a difference to your technique, so this could get out there.

Kevin: I was going to ask you… what is the difference between swimming in a lake to a pool? How’s it feel to pool?

Elliot: The biggest difference is obviously the temperature. I think at the moment the lakes are about 60° so they are not warm by any means. And, with wearing a wetsuit you’re buoyancy is better so your technique is slightly different to the pool because your legs are raised and you can focus more on your upper body.

Kevin: Right. You said you were doing roughly about 3 or 4km?

Elliot: Yeah, between… on most training sessions I’m looking for about 3 ½ to 4km.

Kevin: And how long does that take you?

Elliot: I’m in the lake for about an hour normally. Between 50 minutes in just over an hour.

Kevin: No breaks, you’re just constantly going?

Elliot: Yeah, the lake and swimming at the moment is called Heron and it is a really nice facility. It is literally an 1100m loop, so you can get in and do one lap and you know you have done 1100m and you know you can push it and do three or four and you know what distance you’ve covered.

Kevin: That is a long time to be going. You don’t take on any fluids or anything, during that?

Elliot: No. Obviously, you need to make sure you’re taking them on board before you start and when you get out, but during the swim it’s literally just a solid hour.

Kevin: Incredible. And is it just triathletes turning out the lake at stupid o’clock in the morning or silly o’clock in the morning?

Elliot: Nice and early with the early birds. It is not, and I think a big misconception of open water swimming is that it is a means to an end. So, for triathletes it is something we have to do because 99% of triathlon swims or open water or see. So, you would want to spend all of your time throughout the year swimming in a pool. From that kind of side of it, it is obviously a big aid to your training. There are a lot of people that go down there just for the thrill of swimming in the water, outdoors, and kind of enjoying something other than being a pool for the chlorine and young kids.

Kevin: I see what you mean. In terms of the fitness aspect for swimming, what is the biggest thing you get out of that in terms of whether or not you are cross training or the other elements of your triathlon or if it is just your cardio or what is it?

Elliot: I think, unlike the other two disciplines of a triathlon like the bike or the run, you are working your upper body. So, with a slim, a lot of athletes will try and use the swim and do a lot of upper body work rather than your legs. Because we want to try to do with your swim during the race is user upper body more than your legs so you’re saving your legs for the bike and for the run. So, the swim is slightly different because of the terms of the tempo when you’re kicking and that side of it. So a lot of it is for your upper body.

Kevin: Oh right. You can see the logic of that because you have to disciplines that really hammer your legs actually… Just out of interest, what is the difference between when you are cycling and running. Does it feel completely different on your legs? Does it use different muscles?

Elliot: Yes, it feels completely alien. It is one of the hardest things to do. It is really hard to explain to people that haven’t been through it but after doing 40km bike and then literally going within 20 seconds you come out transitioning and trying to find your run legs. Is a really really weird… it is like trying to learn to walk again. When I first started doing triathlon I really struggled with it and I was cramping and I was just really really struggling to get off the bike and run strongly. So it is something that you really have to focus on.

Kevin: So that is very much to do with the swim. Obviously, I think you said to me before the show that you can actually put a lovely link up on the show notes, which not just talk about the lake that you go to but show the other ones in the area.

Elliot: Yes, we are located in the area where we have three or four lakes within the same distance and they have really nice facilities. They use the same website you can go and put your postcode and find your local lake. We will put that on so the people can go and take a look.

Kevin: Now, the good thing is we are going to ask you some questions that have actually been coming since the last podcast. The first one you have is about your work. In terms of, how does it support your training? In terms of flexibility, and everything else. That actually comes from Nick in Surrey England.

Elliot: That is a really, really good question. It is quite a big balancing act. I try not to let my training impact my work too heavily because obviously things come up work that you can’t factor in. So you might be called into a meeting, or a deadline you have to hit. So I try to get a lot of my training done before or after work, and I’m quite fortunate as well that the office I’m based into three days or weeks also has a shower. So it’s something as simple as being able to go for a run at lunch time and not stink the office out for the rest of the afternoon is quite a nice thing to be able to do. Which none of people are fortunate enough.

In terms of the flexibility my work has been really supportive. I actually took a triathlon on during the period that started at work and there’s a few guys at the office that are into triathlons as well. So there are people around me that understand it and understand the kind of hours that you have to put in. They understand the kind of commitment and dedication that it takes.

Kevin: So there is a culture in the office of sports or health so I guess that must help…

Elliot: Yes, it really does and I think the other side of it is that I’m a hard worker by nature. Everybody that knows me knows that I put the hours in. I’m not afraid to kind of get stuck in and get dirty. It is kind of a trust thing more than anything. At that second hour of the morning to go for a ride or run the guys at work, my bosses are my one managers and everybody at work know that they will get their hours back. There is, the trust element that goes into it.

Kevin: Excellent, superb! So hopefully that answers that one and the next we’ve got is this was orientated around the kit. The first bit of it is what running shoes do you use? Second one is what is the make of your bike? And then, do you have any recommendations for people considering buying a kit?

Elliot: Another good question! In terms of the running shoes I use a brand that I doubt many of the people who are listening and heard of, they’re called newtons. People in triathlon circles know them because they’re a massive drama, from the US. They are very well known. They’re slightly different from the normal trainers and that they emphasize forefoot running. So they have a rubber block on the soul which pushes the front of your foot down before your hill. For people that haven’t heard of them before, they are completely alien. I’m quite fortunate in that I have actually been a 4 foot runner just through the start that I picked it up I was younger.

So for me, they are fantastic and I have made my run times come right down since I tried them significantly by sort of a minute per kilometer which was about the average from when I first started.

Kevin: Really? And what is the significance, if you’re able to explain it, between the fact that you are meant to go down on the balls of your foot as opposed to the heel?

Elliot: Yes. There’s quite a lot going round about it at the moment. People have tried running marathons and things like that barefoot because it emphasizes the natural style that you are supposed to take when you run wheres what a lot of trainer manufacturers do, like Nike, that aren’t focused on a specific running style, they are designed to make your heel go down first which is not the way you’re supposed to run. So what the Newtons do is they’ve got a rubber block which protrudes further down on the heel and it gets you into the rhythm of a 4 foot striking.

Kevin: Wow. And is it to do with injury, or speed? Or is that just the way that the body…

Elliot: I think is just genetics. It is the weight women to run. And they just emphasize it to make sure that you’re getting the best technique.

Kevin: And they are called newtons? Will put a link to those. Okay, right. Your bike?

Elliot: At the moment I ride a focus. It is a really big brand. The make mountain bikes, triatholon bikes. The triathlon bikes are slightly different to the normal road bikes. They are designed for straight line speed, getting the hammer down and getting your head down. There is slightly different from the road bikes are out there. I’m actually looking to buy a new road bike now since my techniques have improved and my time is come right down. It is time to upgrade for something a little bit better.

Kevin: So we will be putting an advert out on the podcast that says use bike for sale.

Elliot: Yes, yes, with one careful owner!

Kevin: Yes, that’s right. And what bike are you going to get?

Elliot: I’m looking at the moment at something now call the planet X. Again, it is not a very well-known brand for someone who is not in the triathlon circles. They are a brilliant brand that have won numerous awards for the bikes they have out there. They’re full carbon, and absolutely beautiful pieces of kit. But they’re slightly cheaper than some of the higher-end brands because they are all manufactured in the Far East so they can keep their cost prices lower without compromising on equipment.

Kevin: How much time do you think upgrading your bike will save you?

Elliot: That’s a good question. It depends on what you’re going for. You need to be able to look at different bikes that are available because different bikes are set up differently. Obviously the designs are slightly different and some are more aero than others. I think over a 40km race, you could easily find between 5 and 10 minutes.

Kevin: Crikey! That is a substantial amount.

Elliot: It’s one of those things that I didn’t want to go…. Well, when I first started I bought the Focus because it is a good solid bike that has won lots of awards and has fantastic reviews. But it is at slightly a lower price point than some of the more expensive bikes and the reason for doing that is just that you can have the best kit in the world, but I was starting out in triathlon and I didn’t know how I was going to perform. I didn’t know that I was going to get to the level that I am at now and the kind of level that I’m looking to go to.

So it was a means to an end to make sure that my riding style was right and my pace was good enough. But now, it is time to start chipping away the times and upgrading.

Kevin: So in terms of buying a kit, what do you recommend there for people who are starting out on a triathlon for first-time? Obviously apart from you trying to get rid of your hand-downs on the show. [laughing]

Elliot: Yes, I have a nice Focus for sale! Well looked after, well maintained.[laughing]

Kevin: Exactly.

Elliot: Again that is a really good question. I think the best thing to do is to go to your local club and go online and Google your local area. Find your local triathlon are running club debating on what you’re looking for. All of the guys down there, by their nature, really helpful. They love talking about the sport that they do. It is common excuse for them to pass some of the knowledge down and talk about it in time and everything to do with the sport. Ask them about retailers they use, and what products they enjoy and what products they are using and how they’re finding them.

Get some one-to-one feedback on people who are using the kit rather than walking into a showroom with someone who is on commission if they showed you that 200 pound pair of trainers they get 2% off of it

Kevin: And I think you said to me before that you can rent a lot of kit as well, I think you mentioned that.

Elliot: You can, not so much with the trainers but the wetsuits on the bikes. You can rent them by the race or the year and I think some of them are starting to do it for a little bit longer. If you didn’t want to commit to buying a bike or wet suit… A wetsuit is kind of a sore subject for people who start out in a triathlon in terms of it is something that you are not going to any of use for. You can buy a bike and use it to commute to work, but you are not going to wear a wetsuit to the meeting. So, with that sort of stuff it is good to have the option to go and rent some of the stuff.

Kevin: Good. Supreme with what you’re saying is to get down to it and find a local club. People of all levels go to the club, so people who think of triathlons and triathletes as being completely elitist in terms of… fitness, that’s what I mean.

Elliot: Yes it is a perception that people have gotten. But, a lot of the clubs I train with [indiscernible] I’m not a member at the moment. I push myself and I know my limits. But they’re all age ranges and fitness levels and different, walks of life’s that go into these clubs right from juniors to… there is a member of the Hillingdon club and he’s 65 and he is giving the 25 and 30-year-olds a run for their money.

Kevin: I bet. And I’ve got one more question that’s come in and it’s: How do you plot your training improvements, how do you measure them?

Elliot: I actually use a watch called the Sunto T3 and it connects to a foot pod on my trainers and a pot on my bike and what it does is give live updates to the watch on pace, speed, and it calculates distance as well. What you can and do a sync it to your computer and it will measure the distance that you travel, your training speeds, the rates to your pushing, and it comes with a heart rate monitor.

It is not at the same level as the GPRS watches which you can buy like your Garmins which are slightly higher end. But, the feed isn’t live. So with this I can look down in the middle of the race if I’ve got it on at the end of the race on the bike and if I’m feeling good I can see what my heart rate is and see if I can push it slightly harder. If I’m feeling like I can’t keep up the pace on that it might be from pushing too hard and I can look at the watch and know that my pace is a bit further than what I normally pushed during training.

Kevin: So you are getting more accurate data?

Elliot: Absolutely! And it gives you more accurate feedback so you’re not going to cross the finish line and think that was very easy and then get different data after you get your results back. It keeps you thinking, during the race, to know that if you are feeling good and there is a reason for it that you are not pushing hard enough or if you’re feeling lethargic is because you went a bit too hard at the start.

Kevin: Now I’m going to get a lot of garment fans calling about that. [laughing] I’ll wait for the onslaught of that and you can take those questions! Well those were the three questions for this time so I think that’s superb. So, shall we move now to your “Maximise Your Potential” tip of the episode.

Elliot: Absolutely!

Kevin: Last time, it was water, and well, I can say personally but all I hear is your nagging voice in my head if I haven’t gotten a glass of water on my desk. I have it now but it is actually empty because I’ve been polishing it off today. So you have had a great impact on me drinking a lot more water. So, what is the tip this time around.

Elliot: It’s empty! [laughing] I think the tip for this time around would be, and there is a reason for it, sleep. I have been battling really niggling illnesses over these weeks, infections viruses, that kind of stuff. I spoke to a friend of mine who writes pamphlets and leaflets and medical stuff, and she has mentioned it is because I might have been overtraining which I agree with because the days are drawing out and I’m pushing harder at the moment so it could’ve been that.

But, what we found out after a couple of tests we did the sleep pattern; that I was not getting enough hours per night. They say you should be looking on average about seven hours per night. Some people need far less and some people may need slightly more but all it does is give your body time to recover, recuperate, rest, relax, and completely switch off so that you can recover from the day you’ve had and prepare your body for the following day.

Kevin: That’s really incredible that you are looking for all of these other ways of fixing it and it was something literally as basic and simple as getting enough sleep each night. Wonderful! On that note we will call it quits as well. This time around we will make sure there is a ton of useful links and make sure since we have covered some really great products and locations. So Elliot, as always, thanks a lot for your time.

So thanks again, for tuning into the podcast and as always remember that you can post questions and suggest interviews by connecting with us on Twitter at maximisemylife. Also, we would like to say thanks as always to the Jenrick Recruiting Group and also to Xerxes music which enables us to use his music on the show. On that note, we’ll leave you with a track from his selected Works volume 3 album Danish dynamite.

[music to end of audio]

Thanks for viewing the transcript of this highly motivating interview with Elliott Cole. Follow more inspiring people on the Maximise Potential podcast helping you become successful in your life.

About the Author

Hi, I'm Tom Burkinshaw, I co-produce the Maximise Your Potential Podcast and Website and my goal is to help as many people as possible be successful in life, careers and business, by offering free coaching and mentoring through a series of unique interviews from inspiring people who all display exceptional self-belief, mental toughness and desire to achieve. Thank you for taking the time to visit Maximise Your Potential!