Faces of purplepatch: personalized recipe for success

by: Matt Dixon

Welcome to our athlete case study series, The Faces of Purplepatch: At purplepatch, our quest is personal excellence and development, whatever the level. The common thread that ties our community together is the goal for personal development and performance, both in sport, but also life. The Faces of Purplepatch case study series highlights some of our athletes that achieved great breakthroughs and personal experience, but also provides some lessons for all of us on season planning, training and tactical approach to help every purplepatch athlete improve. We are going to start our Faces of purplepatch case study series with Michelle Clariond. 

Michelle Clariond,  Mexico City.  

Athlete Challege: The cross-pollination performance puzzle.

Profile: Michelle arrived as a keen runner, who wanted to capture two birds with one stone. She had a goal of continuing her development as a runner, but also wished to begin racing triathlons. Her friends and club teammates at home declared that is was impossible to focus on both, without diluting run performance, but we begged to differ. The goal was to use the positive cross pollination effect of swimming and cycling training, and leverage her background as a runner, to help Michelle continue to improve in the run.

The coaching: Michelle had a good runner background, but often struggled with niggles and pains, often associated with greater running load. The mission was to transition training emphasis towards a more balanced triathlon approach, and dial in specificity in the running that we maintained in the program. With this approach, her triathlon focus was based around sprint and Olympic distance racing.

The intervention: The key was to maintain a program that still enabled run improvements, despite being balanced around triathlon training. To achieve this, we placed laser focus on the two key strength and speed running sessions, but made all other running very light, but frequent. We then supported the running with the broad range of intensities of swim training, which athletes tend to be able to hit without massive corruption of training readiness in other disciplines. Michelle’s cycling had a ‘strength and resilience’ focus, with a heavy emphasis on low rpm and hill training. We wanted to strengthen the legs, and develop real resilience, which would translate to improved performance in cycling, but also in musculoskeletal resilience for the run. The final intervention was the inclusion of a real strength and conditioning program, something missing from previous programming, to help with power, athetic awareness and joint mobility.

The results: The most striking result was a healthy and energetic athlete throughout the entire season, which was missing from previous seasons. Michelle improved across all three disciplines, but did so without any deep fatigue or musculoskeletal injuries. She also successfully completed several triathlons, at a level that even caught her coaches by surprise, but the real success arrived in her running races. Not only did we avoid decline, Michelle completed her best half marathon and 10km races of her life, and broke the magic 40 minute barrier for a ‘real’ 10 km race, something that had been a long time goal.  

Michelle’s story doesn’t just provide inspiration and lessons to those who hope to improve their running race performances, but also to those who struggle with running well off the bike. That puzzle is seldom just a running training issue, and we must always seek to investigate the whole puzzle to create global triathlon performance evolution.

Michelle is on the Premium coaching product.