PPF Pros: Comparing 2016 Tim Reed With 2017 Tim Reed

by: Matt Dixon

Headline News

  • Tim Reed wins IRONMAN 70.3 Philippines for the 3rd time in a row, finishing in 3:54:07 - congrats on the hat-trick, mate. 
  • Drew Scott makes his return to racing at IRONMAN 70.3 Boulder, finishing with a time of 3:56:52. 
  • Sarah Piampiano, Tim Reed, Jesse Thomas, and Laura Siddall all received invitations to Kona (see below).

Comparing 2016 Tim Reed & 2017 Tim Reed

It is worth making a few comments on Tim, who is the reigning IRONMAN 70.3 World Champion, but has very different aspirations for 2017. Last years career moment (so far we hope) came at the cost of a good performance at Kona, so Tim has made the smart decision to make a few adjustments and place most of his focus on training for Kona. Given the magnitude of the two championships, I think it is very challenging for most athletes to truly make a run at winning both in the same season. Tim is a super racer, with a smart mind, but certainly performs better with a very targeted and focused game plan. With the grand excitement of last year’s win at the 70.3 distance, it was extremely tough for him to recover and truly prepare for Kona just a month later. Despite the shift in focus and emphasis, Tim will be returning to the 70.3 Championships for the chance to defend his title. Any World Championship is never a B-Race, but the key is how the training emphasis is set up for Tim as he prepares for the race. Tim and I are open to anything and hope for a repeat of last year, but it certainly changes the dynamic with such strong focus on pure long course training.

 With this as context, I was very happy to see Tim’s evolution in form over the last couple weeks - with a good stint of work in Boulder, a solid hit out at Racine 70.3, and now this strong and consistent effort in Cebu. He is certainly fit and progressing on a solid path, so it should be fun to see his performances in these important two months. He has nothing to lose, and I feel very little pressure is resting on his shoulders, which allows him to continue to excel and have fun on his journey.

Drew Scott Returns To Racing 

I was also very happy to see Drew toe the line again despite dreadful luck over the last two seasons. A bike crash last year wrecked the start and middle of his season in 2016, and once again, a tumble before IRONMAN South Africa has cost Drew much of this season. His comeback was an important step, and while he would always want more, especially on the run performance, I think the most important element was simply getting to the line and racing. It is a banked experience and something to build from.

Why Coaching Can't Be Formulaic

The difference in place and mindset between Tim and Drew simply highlights a norm for any coach who has multiple athletes prepping in championship season. Any seasoned coach will tell you that the final months of the race season are the best time to expect the unexpected. I constantly have to think outside the box for each of my athletes to address their needs and allow them to arrive prepared. Most are already many months into training and racing and have potentially gone through wildly different experiences in the initial part of their season and year (Drew and Tim, for example). If I consider the purplepatch pros that are attending one of the two upcoming World Championships, it can highlight the different needs and challenges that they each face. If I were formulaic in approach for the entire group, then I could only expect formulaic results. Here is a sneak peek at the current status or features I must manage when creating the programming heading into the Championships.

  • Tim Reed:  Careful progression, in a great physical space, no great challenges as we lead toward Kona with Chattanooga 70.3 Worlds on the way.
  • Laura Siddall:  Prepping for Kona off a very heavy season of racing, which will mean a 6-week program of emphasis for IRONMAN #5  of the year.
  • Kevin Collington:  Prepping for IRONMAN 70.3 Worlds off a stellar season, but had a random crash in Iceland 70.3, which led to a separated shoulder, meaning some out of the box thinking is required for his training plan.
  • Sarah Piampiano:  Still feeling some after-effects of the crash at IRONMAN Cairns, we have to adjust the original plan and build the path to the Kona IRONMAN with less focus on running.
  • Sam Appleton: Having a breakout year, but the great results are also met with great challenges. Sam was very good in June and July, so I made the call to give him a rest and rebuild for Chattanooga. He's now starting the engines again, gearing up for another great performance. 
  • Jesse Thomas:  Having arrived at Kona with lingering fatigue last year, we have gone radical this year and taken an extended rest in the middle of the year. We also lean into Jesse’s running background and history of foot injuries, creating a plan for Hawaii that looks very different than any other purplepatch athlete.

You can see that each athlete is in a vastly different place. A few of them are spot on the original plan laid out at the start of the season, some have a wonderful body of results so far but must be primed to race well again when it counts, while others still have faced misfortune or challenge. This simply means that the approach and personality of the program looks vastly different for each athlete and requires collaboration and willingness to evolve and adapt. Ironically, across the sport, so many great performances come out of seeming adversity, and the scenarios above are typical for most coaches. The key is how you adapt and how you manage expectations, while focusing on the important stuff that we can control. Like every year, it is going to fun and wild. The best athletes on the biggest stages, so we will do all we can to arrive to make sure they arrive both fit and fresh.