TriDot Check-In: Kurt Madden - Part 2

How did you learn about TriDot?

I was doing some research in mid-May reading some triathlon articles, and I read somewhere online where an athlete used TriDot. There was a hot link on it so I accessed it. I looked at it and before I knew it I started talking to [TriDot Coach] John Mayfield and we visited for quite a while. I told him I definitely wanted to know more about TriDot. Before I knew it, we made the decision that it would be good for me as an athlete, and that I could use it in my coaching business.

I speak with a lot of coaches and I know many of them spend their Sunday nights sitting down writing training plans. But it doesn’t matter how much time you spend planning, you’re inevitably going to miss some of those marks. The structure and framework that TriDot offers is phenomenal. I simply add to it. Just like a meal that you’re going to cook or salad you’re going to prepare, you can add your own special ingredients. I know, for me, there are some things I like to add and modify. There are ways you can do that.

What was your initial reaction?

Number one, it’s a great framework. Number two, it’s very synergistic, meaning that it really throws in a lot of good routine sets with your warmup and cooldowns. My technique has improved in all three disciplines since using it. It’s the complete package. It takes the guesswork out of it.

You have to really honor what it says. It’s a professional workout. You need to do your warmups. It’s not a form or cookie cutter template at all. I’m beyond impressed. And it really pushes your training hours down by 30 percent. I know that for the athletes I’m working with, that’s a huge motivator. They can upload their data and look at it and I can come in through the portal and give them feedback or we can troubleshoot together.

What aspect of TriDot impresses you the most?

TriDot is really the complete package. I try to be critical and I try to look at what is missing but there’s plenty in there, making sure a person does recovery and making sure there’s a ratio of low volume zone 1 and 2 work compared to high threshold. There are assessments built in so you can gauge your progress. I like to beat the prediction of my times in races. There’s not one component that sticks out. It’s everything. There’s just a plethora of information there.

Jeff [Booher] and John [Mayfield] have shared with me that any coach, no matter what type of certification they have or who they’re working with, will miss the mark. TriDot is like a robot that is going to play chess with me. I could be really good at chess, but you know what’s going to happen? He’s going to beat me every time. That’s where the science is right now. And for coaches and athletes, if they want a bullet-proof way of getting involved in the sport at any level and any distance, I would say that TriDot to me would be their number one choice. I think it’s awesome.

How does TriDot help your coaching?

For me, it takes a lot of the guesswork out of the equation. Each athlete is a little different. I’ve got several years of coaching background in track and field and I’ve learned through the years that, number one, you have to know your athletes, what makes them tick, what sets them off, how to approach them, as well as when you should prod, push, pull, and sometimes listen.

I’ve found that when I really get to know them and continue to use an athlete-centered approach, I can see where they’re going and what they’re fixated on. For example, one athlete might be fixated on weight. That person may believe that if he cuts three more pounds he’ll run 10 seconds faster per mile on the marathon. I might have to explain to him that I can’t argue that, but if he loses his lean body mass, the muscle mass, then he might not have the muscle strength he needs to run well. To me, it’s about empowering my athletes.

In this day and age, as an athlete, I think if you’re not using something like TriDot, you’re missing your mark. You might be overtraining. You may be more apt to getting injured. Then on race day, you’re not going to give a five-star performance. Probably just a three. If you had a bit more structure, you could hit that five.

Do you set goals with your athletes?

I think goals and objectives are key. I try to get my athletes to open up. When I meet them initially, I give them a questionnaire and then we go through it. Once I get to know them and they trust me, I can be a much more effective advisor and mentor. An athlete may set out for a full Ironman and want to qualify for Kona, but I might have to tell him that based on his 5k splits on his run and his 200-meter swim, he might be more geared toward a half Ironman. I tell him we can definitely go the full distance and I’ll support him along the way. But he’s really got to look in the mirror and see what he wants. I think that’s really important to have athletes set the tone and once they trust you, then they’ll ask for help.

What are you most proud of as a coach?

Every athlete has a different story. The most gratification I get out of coaching triathletes since I started coaching athletes in my early twenties is showing people that with hard work, with goalsetting, and with that mindset for continuous improvement, they’re going to far exceed their goals. In the physical aspect, preparation, motor skills, and technique are crucial. More importantly, it’s the mental approach. It’s getting them to believe in themselves.

As a coach, I tell my athletes I’ve got an overall view of their training and racing strategy and workout plan, like I’m the mothership. And I’m going to look out after them. They don’t have to worry about it. We’ll take it one step at a time and that every step they take they’re getting closer to their goal. I also give them little visual or mental cues: fast feet on the run, keep your cadence up and your upper body relaxed on your bike, think about your breathing on the swim. These are little things that through the years I’ve learned and that I share. It’s gratifying for me.

How optimistic are you about your triathlon future?

I’ve had a sensational year. I did three Ironman races in 10 weeks and won all of them in my age group. On the second one, I set a personal record since my comeback in 2013 when I re-entered the sport. And the final one in Idaho, I ran my fastest marathon off my bike. I’ve exceeded all my expectations. TriDot has been a big part of that. My family and a lot of people have really pushed me. So now it’s all about going out and having fun and doing it. On race day I just want to enjoy every aspect of it, the good, the bad, and the indifferent.

In a future blog, we’ll talk to Kurt about his recent 2016 IRONMAN World Championship experience at Kona.

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