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Lessons Learnt from a 2 x Guinness World Record Attempt...

Updated: Mar 12

Every athlete has a different and equally incredible story, but Andy’s desire to step out of his comfort zone and push limits is something worth sharing. Andy approached The JK Journey to be coached after a recommendation from Mindset Mentor and friend Rosie Mead, and it was an opportunity for coach-development and practical application of theory not to be missed. Having trained athletes for ironmen, multi-day events, and international competition, a world record of such scale with Andy was a new challenge. This blog post is a short reflection on the challenges we faced, and all being well in just over a weeks time, an insight in to how a dream manifested.

Andy’s event.

Andy set out with the intent to raise money for his chosen charities of Mind, Alcohol Change UK, and Humankind (donation links at the bottom of the post), with an event that wouldn’t just challenge him, but would build him. Having completed 15 sprint triathlons in 15 days, and 32 olympic distance triathlons in 32 days, the next leap was to undertake 70 70.3 (half-ironman) triathlons in 70 days. An event considerably larger than previous, and gaining two Guinness World Records: the most back to back 70.3 triathlons, and the most 70.3 triathlons in a year. An experienced athlete, yet having a relatively unstructured training history meant that getting the fundamentals was paramount, and this was where we picked up from.

Training Insights

Andy and I’s initial phone call was a positive one where we established the scale of his event, his training history, as well as his thoughts, ideas and expectations around what his training might look like. With a big goal in mind, and with already at this point in January a wealth of support behind him, it seemed too good to be true. A start date set on the 4th of April set, ready to finish on the 12th of June at the 70.3 Ironman Staffordshire event – it was go time.

We initially set pointers around how we would structure training to minimise injury risk (which may sound quite silly when building from several hours a week to an event of 50 hour activity weeks), consistent engaging sessions to help alleviate any monotony of endurance sport training, and a focus on some the controllable aspects – sleep, nutrition, recovery and mindset. 4 months to prepare your body for 10 weeks of ultra-endurance activity is no mean feat!

Andy took to it well, a change to his usual training patterns but one embraced. A continuation of strength work and prehab, alongside support from other health and fitness professionals kept him in good state throughout the majority of training. We initially set out to build up to a couple of regular 35+ hour weeks but regularly revisited this and our final volume didn't reach this - instead focussing on robustness and event readiness in light of progression...

As we developed through the schedule these are some hurdles we encountered:

- The monotony of endurance sport training, particularly when alone.

- Nutrition strategies to meet daily calorie requirements.

- Adequate sleep and rest opportunity with significant outside-event tasks, PR and commitments.

- COVID infection and return to training protocol management.

- Mental fatigue and stress of event pressures.

Now near entering his final 10 half ironmen of the challenge, it’s clear that our methodology was somewhat successful. It could never be perfect and that’s the joys of coaching and the need for constant learning and development. But in this case I was happy with Andy’s development and physical readiness for the event. Whilst definitely having some difficult days it’s been a thrill and honour to see his progress. Ups and downs are a natural part of such a long event, and the unforeseeable can always come in to play.

These are a couple of further pointers from the event that I would consider on a similar event approach next time:

- Emphasising on more than intra-event nutrition and recovery. But the need to stay healthy and engage in a daily coaching feedback / health questionnaire.

- Andy picked up a cellulitis from an unknown athlete’s foot infection, and shortly after an ear infection. Again not necessarily foreseeable, but better precautionary measures may have helped mitigate the risk.

- It is important to mention here however as a coach the need to stay within your qualification remits.

- Ensuring more race-day simulations k