TRIATHLON & ENDURANCE PERFORMANCE COACH
James has been coaching endurance sports since 2013, and has been a Scientific Triathlon coach since 2018. James is a professional triathlete, previously focusing on draft-legal racing and representing Great Britain at European and World Cup level, but currently racing on the 70.3 distance very successfully. James is from the UK, living in Loughborough.
James has been an endurance athlete most of his life, and a coach for a very significant part of it.
He has been coached and mentored by some of the world’s best coaches (including e.g. Matt Bottrill and Mark Pearce), worked with world-class scientists and practitioners, and trained with and raced against the world's best athletes. This has given him a unique insight into what it takes to reach your potential and a great edge as the coach of performance-driven, highly ambitious athletes. Some of James' athletes (both long course and short course) are racing at the elite level or are very close to reaching this level.
Equally, James has shown that he is also excels at coaching athletes at the very start of their endurance sports career. He has helped a number of athletes that are just starting out in the sport progress rapidly and go from the couch to complete their first races fit, strong, and happy in a short amount of time.
Working at the East Midlands Regional Academy (part of the British Triathlon development pathway for talented junior and youth athletes) as well as leading and assisting with sessions at the Charnwood Triathlon Club, and Loughborough Students Triathlon Club, are experiences that have helped shape James as a coach and give him valuable in-person coaching experience.
James has an athlete-centred, pragmatic approach, and excellent communication skills, always staying closely in touch with his athletes and getting to know them really well. Even for the very performance-oriented athletes, James makes sure that his athletes keep enjoying the sport. With an educational background in Sports Science, and the experience of being surrounded by world-class coaching practices in a high-performance environment James' athletes are in extremely good hands.
- Nationality: United Kingdom
- Languages: English (native)
- Education: Bachelor's degree (B.Sc., Hons) in Applied Sports Science and Management, Loughborough University
- Coaching Certification: British Triathlon Federation Level II, Swimming Teacher Level I, Leadership in Sport Qualification, Apprenticeship in sporting excellence.
- Coaching Experience: Started coaching in 2013. Joined Scientific Triathlon early 2018
- Athletic Accomplishments:
-Professional athlete, racing competitively at the 70.3 distance (currently), and previously on the draft-legal circuit (International Triathlon Union sanctioned races, like European Cup and World Cup races)
-1st IM70.3 Gdynia
-1st Challenge Gdansk
-2nd British Sprint Distance Championships 2018
-3rd British Sprint Duathlon Championships 2018
-1st European U23 Mixed Team Relay Championships 2017
-21st European Olympic Distance Championships 2017
Qualified for the European Championships
I signed up for coaching with James to qualify for the European AG championships and to have a coach who kept me motivated and consistent. Both expectations were met, and I had a great working relationship with James. He adjusted the plan in response to subjective feedback, stress levels and performance metrics when needed, and he always gave me great belief in my ability. Finally, I learnt a great deal from James in various aspects of triathlon and physiology.
There are no limits or barriers now that training is based on my abilities and science
James is a great coach. He has a deep knowledge and understanding of the sport. Being a top athlete himself he knows all the tricks of the trade and helps filter out what only works on Facebook and what actually works. And he has a great personality, is genuinely interested in his work and makes you feel like an old friend. It feels like there are no limits or barriers now that training is no longer shooting in the dark, but based on my abilities and science.
Motivation, feedback, and accountability
With James' coaching I have benefited from better motivation, more structure in my training, and feedback on how I'm doing. James explains the goals of the training program, is responsive in communication, and holds me accountable when needed. It's been great!
Positivity, perspective, and getting pushed when needed
James is very positive and helps me get perspective. At the same time he also helps push me out of my comfort zone which is good. The communication with him is great, and it's also great not having to think and worry myself about what to do in training.
Systematic fitness improvement and more confidence in the process
Being coached by James has helped me improve systematically, spend less time planning and worrying about training, and have more confidence in my training. I used to spend a lot of time preparing and worrying about my next training block, but now that I have James I just think about the execution of training. James can explain every step of the training and adapt it on a weekly basis, which leads to great confidence in the process and fitness improvements.
I feel really fortunate to have a great coach behind me
Three years ago I had never swum laps in a pool (since school days), never owned a bike (again since school), and was only running occasionally. And less than 1.5 years ago I was so fatigued I was napping during the day and could barely manage a slow 5 km run without my heart rate hitting 180 bpm. To think that now since being coached by James I'm feeling great, managing up to 14 hours of training a week, and am soon to attempt a 70.3 is just mindblowing. I feel really fortunate to have a great coach behind me. James' attention to detail in the day-to-day data, as well as his view of longer-term picture has been hugely beneficial to me, and I also really value the consistent communication and support, no matter the time of year or what's going on.
I have had the best year of training in my life!
Since I hired James as a coach I have had the best year of training in my life. I am now able to have bigger aspirations in the sport thanks to him. I couldn't have asked for more. Before getting James as a coach my fitness had plateaued since I was unable to train consistently. James taught me how to properly structure my training and approach it with "minimum effort for maximum adaptation". As a result, I have improved as an athlete and am enjoying triathlon more than ever.
The least effort for maximum adaptations
Being coached by James is like being carefully considered by somebody who is curious and keen about his craft and wants his knowledge to serve my goals. I love that it is about the least effort for max adaptations. I love the variety. I love seeing the thinking from research and expert thinkers showing up.
My training now has the structure I need to progress
Being coached by James is brilliant! He is a very good bloke who I wholeheartedly trust with my training to achieve my goals. With his help my training now has the structure I need to progress, I've learnt that less is more. I used to do a lot of junk miles and was not anywhere near as consistent as I am now.
Having fun and pushing myself in a sustainable way
James has helped me make training a sustainable routine that doesn't burn me out. I can now do workouts with good motivation and energy, and I have fun in training while also learning how to push myself in sports again. James helps adapt things when my work forces me to travel a lot and makes things complicated with training. He always has a lot of time for communication and is very punctual.
Helps me keep training even with a busy schedule
Before I started working with James I used to have overtraining problems. James has helped me with a very individual training program, great feedback and communication, and he has helped me listen to my body so I can avoid these problems. James also helps me keep training, even with a very busy schedule and lack of time. Working with him has been excellent!
Huge improvements gained without injury risks for an ageing triathlete
I have improved in all aspects of fitness and race performances being coached by James. The training schedule is always well planned with a definite end goal, and there’s detailed analysis of data every month. Communication is relaxed and consistent and James is always available via text message.
A trusted expert I can rely on
With James as my coach, I've got better structure to my training and more realistic training loads, as well as started working on some areas for improvement that I had completely dismissed previously. James is a trusted expert I can rely on to give timely support, he is very responsive, and he adjusts the program to my specific needs and time constraints. Working with him has been great!
Get To Know James
Where are you from and where do you live?
I live in Loughborough in the Midlands of the UK, but am probably moving to Cambridge soon (NB. as of August 2021). I'm from Leicester, quite close to Loughborough so I've lived in the Midlands for pretty much my whole life.
What does a typical day look like for you?
In general, I get up and get started with some coaching work straight away. Look at comments from the previous day's workouts, go through messages and emails and so on. I'll do that for about an hour and then have my first training session of the day. Then I come back to work, and usually I do some of the most important tasks I have for the day at this point. Maybe I also have a few calls here. Then I go out for another training session, which sometimes is a double session (I am a professional athlete as well as a coach). Then in the afternoon and evening I do most of the calls with my athletes, generally 3-4 hours of calls. The communication side of things is something I really push, so I spend a lot of time on calls with my athletes.
What's your favourite workout?
If I'm in the right frame of mind, it would be a challenging test workout (if I'm not in the right frame of mind it's the worst workout). I got into endurance sports because I like pushing myself. An example of a session I did was a 20-minute time trial, 1.5 hours of tempo work, and then another 20-minute time trial. In a way it's a horrible session, but it's also very rewarding once you've done it. You need to be fresh for it and be up for it.
What's your least favourite or most dreaded workout?
Surprise Time Trials - we used to do them in the squad in Loughborough when I was training with them. I don't dislike Time Trials, but i want to be prepared for them. The other thing is if somebody gives me swim drills and I don't know why I'm doing them. I've been a swimmer all my life, so I know some drills work for me, but with some drill sessions when I get drills that don't work for me or I don't understand why we're doing them, that's my least favourite workout.
What (if anything) do you listen to when training?
I generally don't listen to podcasts when training. For easy workouts I quite like to think about things myself. If it's a hard ride I listen to music. My music taste is quite varied. Today I listened to James Bond theme music, the other day I was listening to ABBA, generally fairly upbeat music works well for me.
What's your favourite book, blog or resource related to triathlon or endurance sport?
Twitter is great, I'm following a fair few good people on Twitter. But given my background (NB. in the British Triathlon setup, competing in draft-legal races on the Olympic pathway all the way up to European and World Cup level) I've been surrounded by loads of people that know what they're on about. Seeing people like Adam Peaty in the dressing room, your coach has coached Olympians, you've got practitioners that have worked with Mo Farah, that sort of thing. So I think for me, honestly, I have to say the most important source of knowledge for me are the people I have come across. Not just coaches and practitioners, but also fellow athletes I have learnt a lot from.
What's your favourite food and beverage?
I do like lots of varied food. In Leicester we've got some great Indian food, and I love that. At the moment I've got a thing for Turkish food - not kebabs, but traditional Turkish food, simple meats, rice and so on. But I'm going to choose risotto for this one. It's great as a pre-race food, it's easy to make, it's high in carbs, and the saltier the better! For a beverage, I'm going for a coffee drink, like a latte. I like both the caffeine and the frothy bit.
What do you like to do when you're not coaching or training yourself?
Generally I just like being outside. Walking, canoeing, camping. I bought a campervan last year which we went around Europe with for racing. I also love travelling, and that's the great thing about being a triathlete, you get to travel a lot.
If you could have dinner with any three people dead or alive, who would it be?
I struggled with this one because you know what, I'm not that interesting! The problem is, you'd invite three famous people around, and they'd be like "who's this guy that's the host, he's so boring", so to be honest, I thought I'd just pick three random strangers off the street because there's no judgement, and you're probably going to learn something.
What's your educational background?
I've got a Bachelor's degree in Sports Science and Business from Loughborough University. And it's not formal education, but just being in the high-performance environment in triathlon for a long time has been hugely educational and a great experience for me.
What's your sporting background? Do you still race actively?
I was a decent swimmer as a youngster, went to nationals, got to the national final for 200m breaststroke in my age-group. I got to 15 or 16 years and decided that I wanted to do something a bit different, and ended up taking up triathlon. Funnily and frustratingly, swimming is my weakest discipline now as a professional triathlete, the bike and the run are my strengths. This even happened very quickly when getting into triathlon. I was involved in draft-legal ITU racing for many years as I got into my career, but over the last year or two have started to transition to 70.3 racing primarily. My goal is to compete among the best on the professional scene. In a couple of years' time I want to be able to produce a podium performance at 70.3 Worlds. I've learnt over the last few years that you shouldn't be arrogant, but you have to have confidence in yourself and belief in yourself so I'm backing myself to be able to do that.
Who are your coaching role models or coaches you've learnt a lot from?
Like I said, I've been in a sporting environment, training at a pretty high level since I was 10 years old. I've had a lot of coaches and known a lot of coaches through this. Everyone I've come across have had some things they are really good at. At the moment I'm working with Matt Bottrill and that's been really good. He is really professional, there's no messing around, he just tells it how it is which I really like. I think coaches not being so good at communication is a big problem in endurance sports. In addition to Matt, I also learnt a lot about running in particular from Adam Elliott, my coach at Loughborough. I've also worked with Mark Pearce and his sports science knowledge was spot on, he was so good at that. So I think I've learnt something from all coaches I've worked with.
What types of athletes do you coach?
I coach a real mix, from people that are potentially pro level to people that are complete beginners. One athlete that I work with has actually taken that journey with me, we started when he was a beginner and now three years later he is knocking on the door of going professional. And I have basically the whole spectrum in between, top age-groupers and athletes that are competing more so with themselves and wanting to keep improving but always balancing the "fun" element of training, which I do think is very important for everybody. To summarise, I think for me it's working with athletes who are motivated to achieve a goal and enjoy doing the sport. The level doesn't really matter, anyone that fits those criteria I love working with.
What do you expect from athletes you coach?
I expect them to be motivated and having a goal. That their communication is open and honest (this is a two-way street). I expect them to be committed. It doesn't matter if they're committed to doing 6 hours of training per week or 20 hours per week, but I want them to be committed to that goal. Of course, things happen, but when things happen, they should communicate that to me. I want athletes to do well and that's why I do the coaching. And as long as the athlete has commitment and motivation appropriate to their goals, we can make that happen.
What should athletes expect of you?
Athletes should expect that I am very approachable. They'll be able to talk to me a lot, and I'll be open and honest in our communication. Of course I am very professional, so things will be done on time and such. And they can expect that everything will be at least hitting or hopefully exceeding the expectations that you'd have of a coach.
What are your special interests or areas of expertise within coaching, training, physiology and sports science?
Something I'm quite interested in at the moment stems from what I'm also personally doing a lot of, and that's aerodynamics. That is so important in our sport for people looking to achieve performance goals. I think this will grow even more over the next few years. I can see aero meters becoming a big thing and blowing up in a couple of years. I'm also intrigued by the continuous blood glucose monitoring, mostly to monitor how well your fuelling is going and optimising that. But I'm yet to try that.
Describe your coaching in three to five words
- Alignment to personal goals
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