How it Works


Getting Started

Whether you’re looking to train for your first triathlon or embarking on a journey to optimise your performance in a major competition my virtual triathlon coaching is for you.

Depending on where you are in the world – Northern Hemisphere and Southern Hemisphere – in relation to your triathlon season, I’ve separated the year cycle into 3 training phases; foundation, winter and race preparation.

I have put together training plans and accompanying coaching videos taking you through to your A1 race goal – Sprint, Olympic, 70.3 and Ironman. The videos can be used to improve technique in swim, bike and run, teach you warm-up and cool down routines and new strength & conditioning exercises.

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Virtual Triathlon Coaching


  • Sign-up to a Training Plan

    Training Plans to fit the time of year progressing to your Race distance. From Sprint to Ironman with accompanying videos. >>

  • Go through Profiling

    Use my run & swim calculators, bike power information & testing protocols to personalise the training plans. >>

  • Watch Videos

    Watch my coaching videos on how to improve your swim, bike and run. >>

  • Read Training Info

    Further information through articles and blogs to help you continuously improve your triathlon journey. >>

  • Sign-up for Newsletter

    Keep up to date with the latest training insights, tips and advice. >>

James explains how to get the most out of his virtual coaching.


My Coaching Philosophy

ART – Coaching the movement patterns to enhance their economy

SCIENCE – Training the physiology to increase the ‘engine size’

Training Strategy

You may, during profiling, identify that you need to increase your bike power if you are to race better next season. You start working on your bike power in November, yes 6+ months pre season (northern hemisphere). However, instead of smashing yourself with long rides and hard training sessions, leaving you burnt out by February, you firstly address any technical weaknesses in your cycling in the foundation phase. During the winter phase you will be going through sessions that will address both force & power components of cycling. You then enter the preparation phase an all round stronger cyclist.

This is the same for all disciplines – the training plans address the physiology of the athlete and the videos address the biomechanics & economy of motion. Each component must be targeted and trained to optimise your performance and the key to your performance success will be consistency over a number of months.

The Foundation phase is about mastery of the best techniques that will remain robust under pressure and deliver your highest economic yield.

Within endurance we cannot afford to waste a stroke – revolution – step

Once you feel your technical weaknesses have been mastered, we move onto building all components of fitness and have fun doing so. The key to winter training is to develop this fitness whilst not leaving you tired, fatigued or burnt out before the main preparation phase. Therefore, you need to build in periods of “freshening up” both physically and mentally.

For me a full day off each week for age groupers and elites alike is essential to do this. I know many coaches don’t do this, but I have a very low injury rate with my athletes, and I attribute much of this to not pushing them so deep that their bodies cannot re-bound and thus stimulate the correct training response.

Once we get into the final part of your training year, your preparation phase, you need to be ready to either go deeper with the short course athletes or longer with the long-course athletes. However, learning to tolerate discomfort, whether ‘intensity’ or ‘duration’ discomfort is key to your performance outcome during the next phase.

What about individualization?

We are all individuals and each have different strength & weakness’s. However, remember the foundation phase is about mastering the personal technical aspects of your performance and then as you go into preparation phase you will prepare specifically for the course or distance.

For me, consistency is key throughout winter, working on all aspects of your training, while maintaining freshness. Once you hit the preparation phase, i.e. you are getting ready to prepare for your big race or group of races, you then need to think on an individual basis.
• Distance you are doing (Ironman/ sprint)
• Type of course (Hilly, flat, technical)
• Weather conditions (cold, hot, humid, altitude)
• Individual weakness (bike power, FBP, no mans land head space)
• Travel

Even at the very sharpest end of triathlon, the ITU WTS circuit, during the season it can be very difficult to prepare for an individual race. Especially when athletes are chasing Olympic qualification points, as they are racing so often that there just isn’t the time for specialization or prepping for an individual course. So each athlete needs to be strong in all areas and to be handle anything thrown at them. That said, a course/ stage like the Rio Olympics, would be given the highest priority for all athletes concerned and what do they have to factor in?
• Travel to Rio
• The threat of mugging/ robbery
• Split Olympic village and race venue
• Weather (it could be 20 & raining or 35 & sunny with 95% humidity)
• Very difficult riding conditions for training around the race venue
• The sea swim: could be choppy swell, flat or manic waves & beach start.
• The bike: a 25% incline 8 x and technical sections down the hill
• The run: If it’s hot and the sun is out, there is no hiding place.

What do you have to contend with in your next race?

Training Programmes

You don’t need to be complex about your weekly/ yearly training, working on a simple strategy of three weeks on and one week recovery to “freshen up” works with the biorhythms of most people, jobs and families. Freshening up does not mean kicking back for the week and putting your feet up, as you will see in the programmes, you will still nail your key sessions, but drop or reduce supplementary sessions and have an extra day off/ lie-in.

I have put the programs together with sound progression and overload principal behind them. You could say a little too sound, as I have calculated, on the most part, a 10% increment to each week or training session. It’s of fundamental importance that if you wish to take up this ‘virtual’ coaching, you understand yourself and are willing to go through profiling. The profiling will ensure you are tuned into the daily sessions/ training at the right intensity, this will allow the overload principals to be effective and not destructive.

Yearly training plan phases:

Foundation Training

If you’re looking to improve technically in any aspect of your triathlon training, this is the time of year to address it (not 6 weeks out before your A1 race). This is around 6 months prior to your A1 race – typically in the Northern Hemisphere November/December.

Winter Training 

The key to winter training is building your fitness and if you’ve worked at hard at something technically (swim, bike or run) winter is to build the robustness of this improved skill under greater pressure.

Race Preparation

Depending on the distance you are looking to race over, the course terrain (hilly bike etc) and your individual strengths & weaknesses, I have put 4 different race preparation training plans which will determine how you prepare for the final 12 weeks prior to your ‘A’ Race.

  • Sprint Distance Triathlon Plan
  • Olympic Distance Triathlon Plan
  • 70.3 Distance Triathlon Plan
  • Ironman Distance Triathlon Plan
Broken, ill or injured athletes do not make the start line… only smart athletes get to see their potential.

Training Zones

The first thing to remember with training zones is that they are not an exact line to cross – they have an upper and a lower limit and may merge into each other. Some coaches will work in lots of different zones with a, b and c+1 etc and it can become very complex. I like to keep training zones simple.

Simplicity meets Genius

Run & Swim Pacing 6 second rule:

When it comes to running performance a very knowledgeable man, Jack Daniels PhD, came up with a great formula for calculating running paces. He did so by ascertaining the runner’s vVO2max (running speed/velocity at their maximum aerobic capacity) and running economy, by using the 12 minute Cooper test. However you get a similar result by halving the test to 6 minutes (you can use my zone calculation on here). What Jack noticed after using his formulae for so many years was how each running pace “zone” had around a 6 second per 400m difference between them.

Swimming: Using Jack’s thinking on running and applying this to swimming (so trying to ascertain the swimmers vVO2max), I have used the 400m swim test and get sound results, taking swimmers between sub 4.30 to around 8 minutes for the 400m. The really exciting thing, in swimming I have noticed a similar occurrence as we see in the run with the 6 second pacing zones.

Training state: Depending on your level of training/ fitness, I have been able to work very accurately within 4 – 6 seconds with most athletes’ zones on the swim and the run. Furthermore, I have found that you get better swim values over 400m, especially with newbie swimmers, whose stroke mechanics may start to deteriorate over the longer distances.

Psychology: Keeping to shorter testing, but enough to elicit the desired vVO2max result, is about making the test psychologically more attainable/ sustainable for the athletes, especially with low endurance base at the start of the year, post break.

L1: Easy
• RPE (rate of perceived exertion): this fees EASY, on a scale of 1 – 10 it’s maybe a 1 to 3. Great for warming up and extended endurance work. It’s a pace/ speed where one has to concentrate on not lifting the pace and also on holding good form.
• Heart rate: 60 – 75% of max
• VO2max: 59 – 74%
• Run = 1.50 – 1.56 per 400m
• Swim = 1.50 – 1.56 per 100m
• Bike = 150 – 200w
L2: Tempo
• RPE: 3 to 5 – Feels moderately easy, a little more rhythmical than L1 and you can get into a nice “tempo” and can be maintained for long periods. For most this is around your ironman run/ bike pace.
• HR users will be hovering around 76 – 84% of max
• Run: 1.43 – 1.49 per 400m
• Swim: 1.43 – 1.49 per 100m
• Bike 200 – 250w for 5+hrs
L3 = Threshold
• RPE: 5 to 7 – Feels like race pace over Olympic and sprint distance (possible 70.3 for well trained, stronger athletes), it can be maintained for moderate duration of 5 to 10k or 750/ 1500m swimming. This is the grey zone, it’s neither easy nor hard, but a great pace for learning the rhythm of racing.
• Run 1.36 – 1.42 per 400m
• Swim 1.36 – 1.42 per 100m
• Bike 250 – 300w for 1hr
L4 = vVO2max
• RPE: 7 to 9 Remember this is the pace you did your testing at, so can be maintained for 6 – 12mins. Should feel ok for the first couple of minutes or so, but as lactate starts to accumulate so does the pain. Key workout for increasing your aerobic capacity. In swimming terms this is your First Buoy Pace (FBP).
• 100% max heart rate
• 100% VO2max
• Run 1.29 – 1.23 per 400m
• Swim 1.29 – 1.23 per 100m swim
• Bike 300 – 350w for 6 – 12mins
L5 = Max
• RPE: 9 to 10
• This is not max as in your best 100m sprint or flat our 15 sec burst on the bike, you should be able to do this for over 400m on the track or over 100m in the pool, especially as your speed/ endurance increases. Fantastic pace for building power, strength and speed. Elite athlete may need to work above L5 to increase power on the bike to match that seen in racing to either get back on the back of a pack or negotiate tight corners/ turns
• Run: 1.22 – 1.16 for just over 400m+
• Swim: 1.22 – 1.16 for just over 100m+
• Bike: Sustained wattage of around 350 – 450w 90secs to 2mins

Measuring Your Current Ability

Here, I’m giving you an example of a middle to from-of-pack age group athlete who has come to the site, has gone through their personal profiling and now has their numbers for swim, bike and run, which I’ve highlighted below for the 400m swim, the 6-minute run and the bike power test.

Then, to your left, you will see that I have defined a detailed description of the training zones and their correlating paces.

Example athlete results from testing are:
• 400m Swim test – 6mins (90 sec 100’s)
• 6 minute Run test – 1600m (90 sec 400’s)
• Bike power – FTP – 300w

Triathlon and triathletes

If you are about to upon your first triathlon, you are a novice, but you may have come from an elite swim or run background. You may have played football or been totally dedicated to your work and not done a jot of training for years. You could also be an elite athlete, domestic or international or you may be an experienced ironman athlete searching for qualification to the Big Island… there are lots of different types of triathlete, but we all have one thing in common… swim, bike and run.

Maybe it’s not for you

It may seem a little silly to be ‘negatively’ selling my virtual triathlon coaching website, which I have put blood sweat and tears into. However, I have been at odds with giving it to the wider triathlon community. Why?

Training for endurance sport can dig up and bring out many factors within people – mostly very positive – however, one of my biggest fears and the reason I have never done online programming before, is people unable to monitor themselves. Therefore following blindly if they have a niggle (an acute injury) or a slight infection (head cold/ sore throat etc).

Or the other side of the equation, those who can tolerate another swim or bike etc but don’t as it’s not on the programme. I don’t want athletes following the training plans making obvious mistakes and then blaming the plans!

So you must be able to self-regulate and be the leader in your training if you are going to make the best use of this resource. This is important for all athletes, even those I coach in person at Optima Racing Team and I see them every day some athletes three times a day, its still their life, sport, programme and eventually performance.

The Future

There are lots of training stimuli that we can incorporate into your training, and once you have laid down a period of consistent training and you know your body and how you react to different training, you can start to experiment. I will look to go through some of these methods in future newsletters and or feedback sessions… stay tuned.

I sincerely hope this website helps unlock your potential in triathlon.

Yours in sport,