Achieve a breakthrough performance with these tips from Mark Allen.
This article was originally published in the Nov/Dec 2012 issue of Inside Triathlon magazine.
You might know Mark Allen as a six-time Ironman world champ; Canadian pro Angela Naeth knows him as “Coach.” After almost a year of emailed pleas, she convinced Allen to take her under his wing in late 2011. Since then, Naeth has gone from a slew of second-place finishes to the top podium spot in five half-iron-distance races in 2012. Below, Allen shares the training tweaks and traits that have transformed a perennial runner-up into a champion.
1. Listen to your body.
“Angela is very tuned into what’s going on in her body. A lot of people have lost that ability to tune in,” Allen says. Take a step back from your power meter and GPS device and pay attention to how you’re feeling because listening to your body’s signals can help prevent burnout.
2. Don’t date your coach.
While it may work for some people, Allen is against it. “It’s very hard to coach somebody that you’re in a relationship with,” Allen says. “You want the best for them, but sometimes you’re so close you can’t see clearly what needs to be done.” Prior to working with Allen, Naeth got her pointers from then-boyfriend Chuck Veylupek.
3. Know why you’re racing.
Allen didn’t ask himself why he was racing until after he nabbed his third Ironman world champ title, but Naeth began asking that question early on. “If you can answer that question, I think it can make you a powerful force in your races,” Allen says.
4. Set up your year in advance.
“At the beginning of the year, it’s good to know every race you’re going to do,” Allen says. Knowing her long-term goals kept Naeth from training inconsistently—adding a few hours to a ride when she felt good on a Thursday, for example, then not having enough energy to hit her key long ride on Saturday.