Prior to reading any post in the thread “We Race As We Train” its imperative that the reader watch and listen to the Youtube video of Lionel Sanders reviewing his performance at the 2019 Ironman World Championships in Hawaii. The context for the “lessons” stem from the statements made by Sanders in that video.

Lesson #1

In all the years Lionel Sanders has been an athlete – from a university runner to his early days as an age group triathlete to today as a pro triathlete – not one single coach advised, mentored, taught, directed, coached Sanders that the highest form of performance is an expression of skill, technique and capacity. Instead, he has been encouraged to drive himself harder and harder, to push into pain, to take the pain, to hurt, and then… if the desired results are still not achieved, then try harder still, push still deeper into pain, to the point that self inflicted damage becomes “normal”. Worst of all Sanders was perversely advised that driving to the point where he damages himself is related to being a champion, as the pathway to becoming a world champion.

As a pro triathlete Sanders is idolized as a result of his self destructiveness.  Why?

To validate how we all have been advised to train & race… ‘no pain, no gain’?

To validate the self destructive patterns we have all been taught (and never un-taught)?

To validate those who we trusted… that they were teaching, mentoring, coaching us correctly?

Unfortunately…

Few coaches truly know how to coach.

Most coaches know only how to hurt.

Most coaches have no idea what it truly means to coach because they were never truly coached correctly. All that these coaches do is repeat the ‘no pain, no gain’ mantras of their coach. Since self sacrifice was demanded by their coach when they were athletes, they maintain the narrative requiring their athletes to drive themselves deeper and deeper into pain and self denial.

This is why I rail against coaches: because the majority have failed to learn that self harm yields nothing, and mindlessly repeat how they were coached… using hi intensity training as their tool to encourage the next generation to damage themselves – physically, mentally, emotionally. When their athletes fail, much like when they failed as athletes, these coaches will pass the blame to their athletes for being ‘lacking’ in the same way they were blamed for an inability to hurt, to take the pain, to suffer. And this nightmare… we call ‘coaching’, and the survivors we call ‘champions’.  Its absurd.

There is hope though; despite years of self inflicted damage, Lionel Sanders came to this epiphany at Ironman 2019 World Champs…

“its not what you want to do or should do [endanger yourself, damage yourself], and its not what you see these guys doing amazing performances – they are not putting themselves into dangerous – biologically dangerous – situations”

“that’s not racing… its fighting for your life at that stage”

The truthiness of Sanders’ video should make every coach who boasts of ‘helping’ Sanders cringe. Sanders looks into the camera and does not name… one… not one… coach that advised him different. You say you offered Sanders… help? What help? ‘Helped’ by advising him that success lies on the other side of self inflicted harm?

To the coaches who have ‘helped’ Sanders, and all other coaches who think training and racing involve damaging oneself…  please leave coaching to those who know how to actually coach: to those who will not compromise or leverage the physical, mental and emotional health of an athlete in order to achieve a short term spike in performance, to those who actually have the education, experience, and the self control not to be tempted by short cuts, to those who have learnt how to coach athletes to achieve their potential without self harm, to those who respect athletes as human beings and not tools to profit from.

As for Sanders… despite the lack of coaching he has received, seems he has become aware [after nearly a decade of training & racing] that there is different and that consistent champions do train and race differently than him. Hopefully he will pursue different.

What the hell are you talking about?  Did you not hear what Sanders said in the video… it was a nutrition/hydration issue that led to the problems he endured in Hawaii, what the hell are you going on about self harm, self sacrifice, narratives of self destruction.. what has any of this have to do with anything?

Right…

The difference between 1st place and Sanders’ 22nd place was… a matter of a water bottle or two.

So Jan Frodeno’s 3rd World Championships can be distilled down to a simple measurable quantity of water?

Right…

So if every pro who didn’t come first just drank a few ounces more on the bike, on the run then we would have seen what? The entire pro field of men and women together at mile 25, and with a mile to go have the race decided by a sprint finish? If you think consistent peak performance comes down to ‘sports nutrition’ products then you are clueless… and I highly recommend that you neither coach yourself, or God forbid anyone else.