Taking stock – a forced reflection

The coaching philosophy at CPC was born out of the desire and passion to not just coach, but to educate athletes of all levels to help them achieve their optimal per4mance while maintaining a balanced, happy and healthy life…

Coach Sarah recounts a recent forced reflection and sets a reminder for athletes to take stock, and reflect, particularly if you are towards the end of a long season / training block…. But even if you are not, and you feel like things ‘just aren’t quite right’ – then this is your little reminder to look a little deeper to ensure you are performing AND living to your optimum.

I woke up on the weekend like a truck had hit me. I couldn’t move out of bed, I had this overwhelming sense of pure exhaustion that was over me and a thumping headache. So I slept. And laid about. Literally all day. I moved from bed to the couch, slept a bit more there, had a dip in the pool in the hope it would wake me up. Which it did, for a tiny bit, the exhaustion did lift though, it just hid it for a wee bit… So I filled up the bath soaked in a magnesium for 2hrs! I made myself go out for a walk for some fresh air in the evening. Not for exercise, more for mental health – there’s nothing worse than feeling cooped up inside all day. I often include walks for recovery. This was far from that. I felt like an old woman. Moving slowly. Unsteady. No energy. Having to take breaks along the way – and that was just around the block! 

But I made it back home, had some nourishing chicken broth soup and was tucked in bed by 8:30pm. Wow. I have not had a day like that in forever! But I wasn’t going to fight it, not this time. I couldn’t even if I wanted to ! And so as I was laying in bed last night, a heavy cloud of exhaustion over me I was wondering – where has this come from? Why was I perfectly fine yesterday and then down like a sack of potatoes today? Admittedly I have been feeling a little flat of late, just not having the spark I normally do. And although competing sessions everyday, they weren’t feeling as good as they should. And it was playing with my mind. Had my motivation waned? Did I not want race anymore?… 
And then it dawned on me. I donated blood the day before. That in itself can create some exhaustion as they take around ~500ml of blood. For an averaged size person that’s around 8% of your blood volume, but for me, it’s around 12%. And there’s a reason for this story.. 

When I was doing the blood pressure and HR check before donating, the lady asked – is your HR and BP normally so low? (HR was 40, and I silently kicked myself for not doing a few star jumps before I walked in!) ;-p And so I explained to her (like some of you when docs see your low resting HR) ;-p ) that I train and race and so yes it is normally low. So we got past that and then she did the haemoglobin finger prick test and she again said, hmmm is your haemoglobin normally so low? I was below the range they allow for donating – so essentially far from optimal. And so I thought back when I had my last blood tests done with my Dr, and I couldn’t remember when that was. Definitely over 12mths ago! She did say they can do a more accurate test to check it again so that I could still donate though. So we did that and it was just above the minimum marker – JUST! So I went through the process and did my bit. Looking back – I should have put my own health first – but there is a theme here….

So why do I share this? Well, looking back on how I had been feeling in general, the wall I hit yesterday after donating blood and I realise I hadn’t been looking after myself as well as I could have over the past few months. And for someone that has a history of low Iron, to not have had regular bloods done recently I was kicking myself. I was in my groove and didn’t think about it. I needed an outsider to point it out! 

I’ve been running the tank dry. Trying to do all the things and forgetting about number one. And number one is ALWAYS YOU. Not just for performance and training, but for health and vitality. I’ve been trying to be all the things – the parent that helps at the kinder, the mum who catches up with the other school mums, the mother taking kids to all the sports, and making the fancy lunch boxes, the the wife trying to cook everything from scratch. All while working and training… And as we know, it we burn the candles for too long, or we burn them from both ends, without a rest/reset then eventually they will dim. And Mine didn’t just dim, it went out ! 
And so I’ve had to remind myself – that I can DO ANYTHING, but not EVERYTHING. And so some self care is coming my way this week, that massage I’d been meaning to book but just hadn’t made the time for – that’s happening this week. 

Those bloods that I should have had tested 6mths ago, and checking in with my naturopath will be done this week to get me back to my optimum. And I’ll be saying no when I and if I need to….. 

Only then will I be able to find my equilibrium again and feel like my cup is full, my candle burning bright and back to my healthy and vibrate self again! 

SO – this is YOUR reminder. Take stock and check in with yourself – BEFORE it’s too late… How ARE you doing? We train, race and compete for the love, because we are able to, reach our lofty goals – but it shouldn’t be at the detriment of our health…. So next time we chat – I’ll ask again, how are YOU doing….

And if this resinated with you, get on the front foot and book in a chat with your coach or health professional to ensure you are performing AND living to your optimum. 🙂

The Road to Geelong 70.3 – An athletes journey, Regan Hollioake

Athlete Regan Hollioake, shares some of her training journey including her training build and how different that looks to her first half in 2018, what lessons she has learnt along the way, how performance is more than just the training itself, and how she plans on celebrating after Geelong 70.3 !


You started with CPC back in June 2021 and haven’t had a lot of opportunities to race yet, BUT plenty of time to train. How has your build gone and how are you feeling?

Since starting with Sarah in June I’ve noticed some great gains in my training form, confidence and mental health. I’ve been feeling stronger and stronger each week and I’ve gained so much confidence in my swim, bike and run. I’m enjoying my sport so much and have been itching to get on that long distance start line!

My build has gone really well with the exception of some sickness and now a recent hip flexor strain. However, with Sarah’s guidance, I feel much more confident dealing with unforeseen challenges and contingencies by adjusting the program as needed and reassurance that not all journeys consist of only steps forward.

With Sarah being your first coach (previously self trained), how does this lead up feel compared to how you trained previously by yourself into Geelong in 2018?

Training has been so much more balanced, targeted and specific. I’m training smarter and I’ve learnt so much about training zones (goodbye constantly sitting in grey zone) and recovery (2018 me didn’t know what the heck that was!!) and have enjoyed this build up so much more being able to share it with the wider CPC crew. Geelong 2018 was my first ever triathlon and I tackled that on a road bike and runners, now I’ve upgraded to a TT bike and cleats! 😂 (that in itself will make a big difference!) haha

What challenges have popped up along the way (if any) and how have you managed them?

 I was struck down with a bout of illness a month or so back and a recent hip flexor injury resulting in forced adjustments to the plan. I’ve had to be very  mindful of and listen to my body since then. Sarah gave me the confidence to step back and adjust whilst still keeping the body moving in a meaningful way. 

What have you learnt new along the way – whether it be about training or even yourself?

 I’ve learnt to respect my body so much more for what it allows me to do everyday. Not only have I learnt so much about training specifically but I’ve learnt more about nutrition, hydration and recovery. All areas that I previously neglected and my physical and mental health suffered as a result. 

What parts of your program / training have given you the most confidence leading into Geelong?

I’ve gained a lot of confidence in my bike leg. The live weekly coached trainer sessions that push you that little bit harder and the long weekend rides have given me the confidence that I’ve got the strength and endurance needed to put together a decent bike leg .

On race day itself, is there anything you know you will do differently to previous race/s? (ie what have you learnt from racing before)

 Nutrition! I’ve always winged it in previous races but coming into this race I have a tried and tested plan to get the fuel in to (hopefully!!) avoid any upset or bonking! 

And importantly – how do you plan on celebrating / rewarding yourself? 😊

Fish and chips and a cold beer on the beach with the support crew!!  (sounds perfect!)

What’s next – share with us what’s next !

Challenge Shepp in March 
Ironman Australia in May – first IM !

So after Geelong there’s plenty more training and racing to be had this season, and can’t wait to continue the journey with you! But for now, lets bring on Geelong 70.3! :-p

The Road to Geelong, an athletes journey… Rachel Dols

Athlete Rachel Dols shares some of her training journey and lessons, her training build, a recent medical diagnosis, and how she plans on celebrating after Geelong 70.3 !

Give us your back story – who is Rachel and how did she get into triathlon?

I love myself a challenge and having something to focus on all the time. Being brought up swimming before and after school everyday I think I need something that consumes my life outside of work, in a good way, of course. I took a bit of time off sport in my early 20’s having lived and breathed it growing up. Then I decided I wanted to run a marathon, got a stress fracture from over training and during my rehab from that was told I should do triathlon, so I did. Got myself a TT bike (which was my first ever road bike), did some uneducated training and dove straight in.  One sprint distance, one olympic distance the one 70.3 distance in my first season.

You recently had a medical diagnosis that has finally given you some answers to some unanswered questions. Care to fill us in?

Yeh, so for 3 seasons of triathlon I was struggling through races and hard training sessions. Over the course of a hard session or race I would get cramping like pain and fatiguing in my right quad that would gradually get worse. It would get to a point where the muscle would feel like it was tearing in half and would eventually seize up and make my leg feel like a dead weight. I would experience mild symptoms on the bike, but the run is where I really suffered. I had finished races where I was at a hobble because my quad had stopped working. The first time I really experienced it bad was at Geelong 70.3 in 2020, I got 4kms into the run and it started. I was running a low 5min/km pace and my pace eventually dropped to 8min/km and I had to keep stopping and walking. I remember having pain before Geelong during sessions, but didn’t take much notice of it. I thought to myself I must have torn my quad. It eventually got better and anytime I did a hard session or ran up a hill it would come back. It plagued me during the 2021 season and again now during the 2022 season. Over the last few years I had seen multiple sports medical professionals for second opinion upon second opinion. I have lost count of the amount of different practitioners I had seen, but the general consensus was muscular imbalance or biomechanic issue and strength training a soft tissue therapy was the answer. This obviously didn’t work, so fast track to January 2022 about 4 weeks out from Geelong and I had a pretty bad “episode” during a long bike to run effort. I told Sarah about it and she said she thinks she knows what it might be and that she has coached another athlete years ago who had a very rare condition known as External Iliac Artery Endofibrosis…

After a review of symptoms I thought this actually sounds spot on, so I went to see a sports doctor and told him I wanted to get tested for it. So he referred me to Melbourne Vascular who specialise in testing and treatment of those sorts of conditions. An assessment was done where I rode my bike flat out on the trainer and they took ankle blood pressure and an ultrasound on the artery and it was 100% confirmed. The artery that connects from your aorta to your femoral artery, the walls thicken and harden from repeated stress. They believe this is from constant hip flexion or hypertrophied muscles pressing on the artery. The artery is narrowed preventing normal blood flow, the artery also cannot dilate during exercise as it has hardened therefor essentially starving your muscles of oxygen. It’s like wrapping a belt tight around your groin to restrict blood flow and going for a run.  Unfortunately, the only fix is surgical intervention to replace or patch the artery, something I am considering doing, but not right now. 
(Bravo young lady for your outlook and dealing with such a diagnosis. If anyone thinks that they may have similar symptoms and wants to reach out to Coach Sarah or Rach, please do so. Or if you feel like this story sounds similar, you may have heard of professional triathlete Mel Hauschildt who was also diagnosed with this in 2017. You can read her story here.)

You started with CPC back in May 2021 with some big goals how has your build gone and how are you feeling now with your recent diagnosis?

Building up to Geelong has been really good. I have had a large focus on building up my bike leg. I feel so much stronger and more confident on the bike since being coached by Sarah and that was my weakest leg. I am definitely starting to feel like it is becoming my strongest leg. I had a few setbacks with running this year with shin splints (which I could not shake) so we have been conservative with running. 

I am not going to lie and say I am still as confident as I was before I got the diagnosis of EIAE, to be honest it has shattered most of my confidence because I know for what I have built up and all the hard work we have put in I can’t unfortunately beat it especially when it comes to the run, it does literally stop me in my tracks eventually. Before I was diagnosed with it I was sure I would be a contender with the top girls. 
I will say though that I am so much fitter and stronger than I was when I first did Geelong in 2020 and I am confident I will have a much better race than then.

With Sarah being your first coach for long distance, how does this lead up feel compared to how you trained previously?

In a nutshell so much more confident. I have been able to sit back and take the guess work out of it because I have someone who has been there, done that many times in the past and is incredibly knowledgeable guiding me through the process. 
In the past I have mostly winged it, never knowing if I was doing too little training, too much training, enough speed work, enough easy sessions (let’s be honest I never did easy sessions.) I kind of went hard for pretty much the whole year. Now I have built up a base phase, build phase and race phase which has been a lot more manageable and I’ve made more gains with so much more easy, slow aerobic training than I had just banging away at full gas all the time. It has been so much easier mentally when someone is writing your program for you and all you have to do is trust in the process.

What have you learnt new along the way – whether it be about training or even yourself?
Consistency is key, if you can turn up day in day out and get the work done you WILL improve. Easy sessions are the holy grail, and rest days or missed sessions aren’t the end of the world. I have realised I still have the drive and discipline to put in hard work consistently when I want it bad enough. 

What parts of your program / training have given you the most confidence leading into Geelong?
Definitely the bike, I had a very average bike leg of around 3:15 during my first Geelong race. It was my 3rd triathlon race ever and I had done hardly any biking, so my time on the bike was fair for the amount of effort I put into it. I reckon I could take 30 minutes off that time this year. 

On race day itself, is there anything you know you will do differently to previous race/s? (ie what have you learnt from racing before)

Not to over do it on the fluids. I smashed the fluids last time and had to stop to pee 3 times, mate no one needs or wants that, precious seconds being wasted by a tiny bladder and too much fluid.  

And importantly – how do you plan on celebrating / rewarding yourself? 😊

I probably will cry when I cross the finish line, mostly because the last few weeks have been testing emotionally. I wanted to cry in my last Olympic distance a week ago when I crossed the finish line. I didn’t, but I spent a good minute hyperventilating!
I am going to smash the free ice cream though (there better be some!) and probably eat a family sized pizza all to myself. Maybe I will get myself a new garmin watch, she’s getting on the old girl! :-p

Follow Rach on socials here

Race Results Australian Age Group Sprint Distance Championships

2XU Triathlon Series Race 3, StKilda – 16 Jan 2022

A day that brought out the big guns in racing as it also doubles at the Australian Age Group Sprint Distance Championships. And how lucky are we to have them held here in our state of Victoria.

So the day had Sprint Distance (Aus Champs) and the first Olympic Distance for the 2021/2022 series, which always proves to be a great days racing.

Awesome work to each of our athletes who toed the start line whether it was eying off a podium position, aiming for a PB, utilising it is a stepping stone for long distance training, or simply a chance to learn from racing. Great work all !  

Rachel Dols – 2nd F25-29, 1:23:49 and only 7sec from the top position!
After finishing 4th in her first 2 races, this was such a great result, and we still haven’t seen her best yet. Coming out of the water head to head with her fellow competitors, she had her strongest bike yet 2nd fastest in her age, and finished off a tough run for her but a bloody awesome result all round. And she can now call herself a Silver Medallist in the in Australian Age Group Sprint Distance Championships!

Ollie McNulty – 10th (clyd), 1:39:42.
Another great consistent performance by Ollie, who after recently moving to Melbourne is really starting to find his feet – and his training consistency. And the results are showing. IM is calling !

Evelyn Wilton – 14th F45-49, 1:46:09.
One of our newest athletes – although she doesn’t like to call herself that (yet!) Evelyn is relatively new to the sport but keen to learn lots and see where her commitment can take her – including to Half Distance! Good to get a race under the belt, see where she is as and where we focus our time and energy.

Robyn Bourke – 9th F35-39, 2:52:58.
A fantastic all round race from Robyn, a way to get in a good solid training day through racing. With a Half Distance coming up, this is a really good way to benefit both physically, but also mentally, plus look at any tweaks that could be made in the final build. Oh and a bonus 8+min faster than previous! Winning!

View full race results HERE

What is athlete self confidence and how can it be fostered?

If you had all the confidence in the world – then imagine what you could do? Imagine what you could achieve. Imagine what you would DO. So why then do some athletes have a higher self confidence than others? Why can some athletes push themselves to exhaustion, to near failure, to the depths.. While others take the other road? Some would say the ‘easier’ road? It all comes down to self belief, and the self confidence that comes with that.

No one would argue that self-confidence is the cornerstone of all great sporting performances. But self confidence is made up from both self belief AND evidence (ie proof). We all have varying levels of self belief, but the level of self belief in athletes can vary widely. So to improve an athletes self confidence, we look at an athletes self belief and marry that up with EVIDENCE so they can improve their self confidence. As soon as you do that – PERFORMANCE will improve.

Self Confidence = Self belief X Evidence

Self belief on it’s own is hard to change. It is an athletes core beliefs, their values, their character. Ultimately it is who they are as a person and how they feel about themselves. This is established from a young age. The environment and early experiences shaped our individual belief systems.

So athletes with strong self belief often require little evidence to create self-confidence. They have an innate belief that they can do anything, achieve anything and can perform when needed. They believe that they can achieve the goal they set out for regardless of what they hear, what others say, and any other obstacles that may be impeeding their way.

Whereas athletes who lack self-belief require more evidence to prove to themselves that they can. They require ‘evidence’ from their preparation, or even past performance to BELIEVE before they actual do perform to their full potential.

I had an athlete who over the last season (maybe longer) starting doubting her ability. She would train consistently, hit great numbers in training, but come race day, was falling short of what she was capable of. She didn’t believe that she could race to a certain level – to a certain power number, or hit a pace target we set. And having those targets were actually causing anxiety around trying to hit them. So to begin with, we took away the expectations, to lower the pressure she put on herself. But that in itself didn’t help. So another change was needed. She needed a shift in her mindset….

So this season she has taken a step back from racing, to take away the pressure, and the feelings that were coming along with that and so in the background, we could work on mindset. So to do this, I started working again on the EVIDENCE for her. Without her necessarily realising, I wanted to create more evidence (proof) for her that she was capable. That she could achieve. So I set about writing a program for her that would allow her to SEE that evidence. We had repeatable, progressing sessions over weeks and months. Ones that she could see and ultimately feel the improvements. I’ve been throwing challenges at her in other ways, including virtual races. But NO expectations. To simply go out and RACE.

Well she had a breakthrough race last weekend: “I’ve got my belief back that I can push myself on the bike… a lot of that comes down to you. Thanks!”

It did not matter at all where she came in the race (although as a side note she came 1st) 😉 what mattered is she believed in her ability. She believed she could push herself. Because the EVIDENCE was there. The numbers, the data – it was all SHOWING her she could. So her CONFIDENCE in her own ability increased to a point here she was able to perform the way I knew she could… 🙂

THIS was a very proud Coach moment. As it was an area of my coaching that I have been developing and working on. Coaching isn’t simply about developing the best training plan, the best periodised programs, or the ultimate individual sessions. Of course, that is all part of the process. But a Coaching environment should be about developing real self confidence. Genuine, resilient self-confidence, which, when pushed (like in a race scenario) can withstand the pain, the pressure and the fatigue of both the training preparation and the race performance. As a Coach, we CAN improve an athletes self confidence, through the high performing culture we foster.

So – as an athlete, if you feel you lack self confidence, maybe you just need to right environment to shift that. Feel free to reach out if you want to learn more..

Your biggest competition

It can often be the biggest challenge as a Coach, to help an athlete stay concentrated on their journey and not focused on what others are doing. Athletes can easily be lead, or swayed based on what another athlete is doing (or not doing).

Yet they seem to forget that every athlete has a different skill set. Every athlete has a different athletic ability, a different background, a different home life/dynamic and different goals.

By all means use others to push you when your session asks you to be pushed. Use others to help drive you, or stay focused, or help you get out of the bed in the morning. But when YOU need to go easy. Go easy. When YOUR session asks you to focus on YOUR aerobic endurance, focus on that. It is there for YOUR purpose and for YOUR progression.

And so this is why it is so important to not focus on others, but to look inwards. Remind yourself of your goals, your purpose, yourself… ‘Look in the mirror. That’s your competition…’

The key is CONSISTENCY over TIME – what you do in one particular session, or one particular week is not going to make or break your season / key race. BUT what you do week in, week out, CONSISTENLY, with PURPOSE, and PROGRESSION is what will help you get to your best performance potential come race day. And you can only do that when you are training for YOU.

So don’t worry about what others are doing. Don’t worry that you are doing less, or more, or different than them. Because you ARE different…. And that’s the amazing thing about you. 😉