Rachel Joyce is rarely one to sit idle–whether she’s hammering on the bike, pushing the pace on a trail run or racking up laps in the pool. She’s equally mentally active, analyzing the numerous factors that contribute to competitive success and working toward finding a winning formula. And Joyce does not shy away from change, even when things are going quite well, as they have for her for the past several racing seasons. Following a two-year stint under the guidance of coach and six-time Ironman world champion Dave Scott, during which she scored a second and third in Kona and wins at Ironman Texas and Cozumel, Joyce recently chose to switch things up and move on from that coaching relationship. I had a chance to chat with Joyce to learn the impetus for the change and whom she’ll turn to for guidance in the year ahead.
Triathlete.com: You made the decision to stop working with Dave Scott after a very successful two-year run together. What prompted you to make the change, and what is your coaching plan going forward?
Joyce: Towards the end of last year I had a sense that maybe it was time for a change. I’ve really enjoyed being coached by Dave, but sometimes I think in your gut you know that it could be time for a review. A few weeks after Kona Dave and I met up to review my Kona performance. I was disappointed with Kona, as was Dave. My goal remained to go for that number one spot in Kona, so it was time to really think about how I wanted to approach 2015.
I think change can be a good thing for keeping things interesting, exciting and fresh. I didn’t feel the need to rush a decision so I prepared for Challenge Bahrain doing my own thing (although I am thankful for the advice I gathered from friends and mentors in the sport) and I really enjoyed it: very much doing my own thing and swimming with a small group in Perth headed by Swim Smooth’s Paul Newsome. I would add, though, that the experience also showed me that I need a coach! I may have slightly overdone it in a couple of workouts. I’m talking DOMS [Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness] as bad as any Ironman DOMS I’ve had!
Meanwhile I continued to research coaches and speak to friends and a few different coaches, although pretty early I kept coming back to the same person: Julie Dibens. I had approached Julie reasonably soon after Kona to ask if she’d even be interested in coaching me, which I think took her a little by surprise! After planting the idea we both went away to think it through. We’re friends, plus Rinny and Julie are great friends. I wouldn’t be happy for Julie to coach me unless it got the thumbs up from Rinny, too. I was pretty excited at the prospect and we finalized it in December once I was back from Bahrain, then started working together at the beginning of this year. I think it’s going to be good fun. I know Julie’s going to be training me hard, but I think we’re both pretty excited about the project we have ahead of us!
Triathlete.com: In the month since you started working together, have you done much actual training together?
RJ: The weather’s been pretty cold in Boulder so we’ve done quite a lot of indoor training rides together. Julie has a nice little training group here in Boulder, which helps a lot when facing hours on the trainer. Julie is on the deck at our key swim sessions, cracking the whip! The JD Crew is establishing itself nicely and we’ve got a Kona training camp to look forward to in a week. Bring on the warm weather!
Triathlete.com: Julie and Tim [Don], both British, have certainly been successful working together. Was the British factor important to you in choosing Julie, in terms of someone you can really relate to and who can relate to you?
RJ: Communication is definitely a massive part of any successful coaching relationship. I don’t know whether it’s because we’re both British–I didn’t analyze that too much–but I do know that Julie is someone that I can communicate very easily with and be honest with. Maybe it is because we’re both from the Motherland, I don’t know! I just knew that whoever was going to coach me in 2015, clear lines of communication was a massive factor.
Triathlete.com: You mentioned Rinny, a friend of Julie’s and also a friend of yours, yet one of your fiercest rivals when race day rolls around. What do you think it will take to ultimately beat Rinny in Kona?
RJ: Ha! I think that has been the question I’ve been asked most the last couple of years. I’m still working on a good answer! I’ve analyzed my races carefully and, well, I’ll continue to train hard. I feel there are still significant gains I can make in this sport and that’s what drives me. Plus, don’t forget, I came third in Kona! There are two people I’ve got to beat, plus everyone else who’s coming through and improving all the time.
I don’t think there’s one specific thing I’ll be working on. I didn’t swim particularly well all year in 2014 until Bahrain, so there’s one thing for starters. I’m confident there’s more to come on the bike and, well, my run in Kona was disappointing. So, there’s no room for standing still. Keeping an eye on my fatigue levels in my training cycles too–apparently I have been known to overdo it on occasion.
Joyce will kick off the 2015 season in Brazil, racing the Santos Olympic Distance Triathlon on March 1, followed by Ironman 70.3 Brazil in April. Other key races on Joyce’s schedule include Life Time South Beach, Ironman 70.3 series appearances at St. George, Boulder, Vineman and Austria, Ironman Texas and the Ironman World Championship in Kona.