January 13th 2020

By Matt Hill
Categories: Athlete Resources


Podcast with Joel Filliol and Jordan Rapp

This week we return to Joel Filliol, Olympic Performance Director for the Italian Triathlon Federation and Founder of the JFT Squad – he coaches Mario Mola, Katie Zafferes, Vincent Luis, Non Stanford plus others coming through.

This episode is an older one, he is joined by one of his few long-distance triathletes, Jordan Rapp – he now primarily focuses on Sprint and Olympic distance athletes. They discuss their relationship and how they approach their training, talking mainly about swimming. Apologies for the attitude and arrogance of the channels host – typical US military mentality!

Key points to note on general development:

  • Time it can take to reach one’s performance potential
  • The need to train, observe and communicate development – and then adapt
  • Using technology is ok (for some tracking and some people), but not necessary – the first “Joel” podcast we referred you to was about his thought and dislike for technology
  • Get the MINIMUM effective dose – extra volume, intensity or frequency for the sake of it often leads to illness and injury
  • Polarised training – working EASY and HARD – is most suited to endurance athletes (80-90% of workload is in EASY)

Key Swim take away points:

  • Simplicity is all that’s needed – if you can’t remember the session it’s too complicated
    • Hopefully by now you know our warm-ups, strength session and aerobic session formats – they are simple and replicable so you can gauge your current state by comparing to past sessions
    • Variety is for the weak minded! For those not willing to do what it takes and become mentally in tune with their session and movements
  • Using pull buoy, paddles and ankle band are the fundamental items for every session
  • Conditioning (swimming more) beats doing drills / technique
  • Traditional swim drills are useless – triathlon swimming does NOT benefit from the “fluff” and “frills” of drill and technique work
    • Adults and non-swimmers can rarely perform drills correctly; the neuromuscular system has already been set (through puberty) and most people have very little, if any, awareness of their body movements in water (or on land in some cases);
    • Jordan openly admits he is not able to tell where his limbs are when swimming, he knows this and accepts it, doesn’t ignore the fact and attempt to re-programme his body, he just swims to build strength and fitness.
  • Don’t count strokes! Counting strokes and aiming to do the least per length does not equate to a good swim – pool based of triathlon. Many errors in movement and propulsion occur when you aim for distance per stroke

Most of these point / principles are applied by us as your coach but use their discussion as reassurance to boost your confidence in our approach, especially as media (books, magazines, social media, etc) all say the exact opposite!

Ask yourselves:

  • Who is the author of any post/print?
  • What is their history and success with athletes you recognise?
  • Are they following the normal trend with traditional approaches to swim, bike and run technique and are they following the normal high intensity training approach?

If the world’s best coaches and scientists (Brett Sutton, Joel Filliol, Darren Smith, Stephen Seiler, etc) are suggesting otherwise, and regularly producing World Champions, maybe there’s something in it?

These successful few just aren’t as “bothered” about pushing out articles and posts in triathlon magazines and forums for the sake of it. Remember the role of magazines / books / forums are to sell and keep people paying for more and contain information / opinions by unaccomplished coaches that need to make their money from other source (not coaching). Ask Brett or Joel for the secret and they’ll say “simplicity” and “consistency”.

This is too simple for sales! Repeating the same thing every time will make the readers bored and they’ll stop coming back!

Use this to your advantage, as we (and they) do; it means you, our athletes, will develop better than everyone else’s!

Enjoy this episode and remember, doing things differently, the way you have all been training, will benefit you more than the traditional approach. DON’T let the mass published and tradition opinions of other coaches/peers deter you from your journey.