Profile on Ironman University Master Coach Lance Watson
As Posted at ironman.com
"Athletes move around a lot more than they used to," Watson says, adding that generally, the optimal
Watson's approach with McMahon has been purposeful and methodical, guiding him from a junior to a junior elite, to the ITU and two
"I knew when he was in his early 20's that he'd be best at IRONMAN. But Brent's complete commitment to what we were doing long-term gave us the luxury of not rushing him to that distance," Watson says.
Being one of triathlon's old guard, Watson's new gig as an Master Coach brings him full circle: "I've been 'online coaching' since the days of fax," he says. "I remember waiting for a fax five days after the race to see how my athletes had done."
Watson fell into coaching back in 1987 while he was attending the University of British Columbia in Vancouver studying
"It was a wonderful chapter and time," he says fondly.
By the late 90's, Watson was coaching a good portion of the Canadian national team and a number of international athletes as well. Then, triathlon gained acceptance into the Olympics, which set a new and clear path for upcoming athletes
In 2000, a year Watson calls a "milestone year," he relocated his family to Victoria to build Canada's National Triathlon Training Center. It was this era that saw Watson's most famous protégé, Simon Whitfield, rise to fame as the winner of the first Olympic gold medal in triathlon, as well coaching Lisa Bentley to the first of 11 IRONMAN victories they would collect together.
"The long mission of building your own training squad, then founding the national federation program targeted to the Olympics, and then the outcome being a medal—that was a pretty amazing year," Watson summarizes. Watson was also at the helm of the first triathlon coaching certification programs in the sport. His role at the National Triathlon Center involved helping to recruit and mentor other coaches. Through this process, he helped create the Triathlon Level 4 Diploma Program there, and a number of coaches he worked with went on to become nationally and internationally recognized coaches. The National Training Center eventually grew into something that other countries have modeled their triathlon programs after, and, in 2001, Watson became Canada's first National Coaching Institute Certified Level 4 triathlon coach.
"Level 4 is like doing a Master's degree. It typically takes two to three years," he says.
Watson's work goes beyond coaching gold medalists, however. In 2005, he left the national team to focus exclusively on building LifeSport, now a 25-coach strong company across North America.
A changing sport
"Triathlon is still so young in comparison to—you name it, equestrian, boxing. The potential for performance gains through increased knowledge is huge; the learning curve is steep. With age-group athletes, in particular, I'm finding now that I can coach a busy executive, let's say, on eight to 12 hours of training to do an IRONMAN. It's doing the math to find out how much extra training commitment it takes to find the extra 10 to 15 percent of performance. It's learning that you may not have to do a six-hour ride and two-hour run every single weekend. It's delivering programs that fit into people's lives and don't derail them."
"With years of experience, you hone your ability to drill down quickly into what an individual needs to succeed and what might be holding them back. I am not a one-size fits all coach. For example, if you have an athlete who comes from a college swim background, it doesn't simply just mean that they don't have to focus as much on swimming, it also means that swimming won't take as much out of them day to day, in training or in a race. There are first-time IRONMAN athletes versus those doing one or two annually. It's fascinating—you've got energy systems within three sports, you have skill acquisition within three sports, then you have them all interacting dynamically with each other and impacting each other. Not to mention strength, nutrition, psychology...it’s never boring!"
"IRONMAN U addresses all the essential components for developing athletes. I'm a big believer that there's more than one right way to coach an athlete. I think it's great that there's something specifically focused on IRONMAN racing now. Traditionally, Most certification programs have been driven by national federations whose primary focus, and rightly so, is the Olympics and that distance. IMU digs into the finer points of becoming a better IRONMAN coach."
"IRONMAN has consulted some of the most respected coaches around to create a program rich with information that addresses the key fundamentals of developing long-distance triathletes. Long term, this means more athletes toeing the
"I train every single day, and try and do three to four triathlons a year. Training and competing are important parts of honing your coaching skills. You've got to go out and experiment on yourself in training. Racing keeps you connected to the athletes' experience. Ultimately, while I love to compete, my true calling and passion is coaching."
LifeSport head coach Lance Watson has coached a number of Ironman, Olympic and age-group Champions over the past 28 years. He enjoys coaching athletes of all levels. Contact Lance to tackle your first triathlon or to perform at a higher level. Find more tips on Twitter @LifeSportCoach