Triathlon coach Steve Trew on coaching women triathletes
Triathlon coach Steve Trew is one of the best-known names in world triathlon and has coached medallists at European and World Championships. He has been at six Olympic and Commonwealth Games as coach, team manager, and/or commentator for triathlon, race walking, swimming and open water swimming.
In addition, he has inspired triathletes of all abilities to reach their potential through books, articles and DVDs.
One intriguing fact about Steve is that all the athletes he has coached to World Championship titles have been female.
Trigirl wanted to find out what Steve could tell us about female triathletes; what makes us tick, what we find tough and what we can all be doing to get the most out of our training.
Do women struggle with any particular aspects of triathlon?
Not really, everyone is different. For some getting on the bike holds the most fear. Others can’t stand the thought of the open water swim. In general women need the confidence to give it a go and that’s where I come in. Sometimes women can be more prone to embarrassment than men “Everyone else knows, this why don’t I?”. I encourage everyone I coach not to be afraid to ask questions and I always go back to basics in sessions. I like to think you never fail, you just learn how to do it differently next time.
Are there any areas women tend to neglect in training?
We all need to give more time to two key areas; core and mobility/ flexibility. In an hour’s session, it’s often the core that gives up first. Yet when time for training is tight we can be reluctant to incorporate core training into our schedule. It’s the same with mobility/ flexibility, we can underestimate its importance and fail to prioritise it. My advice would be to spend at least 15/20 minutes on these key areas after a run/bike/swim session rather than forget them altogether.
Do you think women get better results if they train in a group?
Yes! I think a group setting is perfect for building confidence, learning from others and maximising the enjoyment you get out of your training. Women-only training groups are great, but I’d always encourage women to train in mixed groups wherever possible too.
My training camps consist of widely varying ages and the younger participants never cease to be inspired by their mature coaches. They think, “If she can do it, I can do it!”.
Why is it that you’ve tended towards coaching women at elite level?
At the start of my coaching career I was still competing, and I guess it was easier to coach athletes that I wouldn’t ultimately be competing against myself. At that time I think I also thought that girls of say 14/ 15 weren’t being offered the coaching they needed to fulfil their true potential. I felt I could really offer to help them to get there.
Now thankfully things have changed, and the playing field is levelling. But I do get on well with women! I enjoy the banter. Coaching is all about communication and chemistry and this has always come naturally with the women I’ve coached.
What changes have you seen in women’s triathlon?
I’m glad to say there is a much brighter picture for young female triathletes these days than when I started out. For the youngsters we are coaching now, triathlon has been around as a discipline since they were born and you can come straight into it rather than via a swim/run/bike route.
The growth of the British Triathlon Federation means that the sport is well organised and backed with an infrastructure that supports athletes of both sexes and all abilities. We also have much better talent id now which is brilliant for spotting gifted young athletes who need backing.
What are you looking forward to this year?
I’ve been writing some short stories and am hoping to get them published. I love sports fiction (Flanagan’s Run is one of my all-time favourite novels!) and I don’t think there’s enough of it out there. I’ll also be continuing to commentate, next up is the London Marathon in April.
Of the books you’ve written, which do you think would be of especial interest to our readers?
I’d recommend “100 Essential Triathlon Sessions” that Dan Bullock co-authored with me. And, maybe for a bit of inspiration and an ‘inside’ look, “Triathlon, A Moment of Suffering” which is a novel where the real heroes are tough women.
If you had one piece of advice for the newbie triathlete what would it be?
Give it a go! What’s the worst that can happen?!
If you’d like to find out more about triathlon coach Steve Trew or his triathlon training camps, contact him via email firstname.lastname@example.org