Podcast, Training

Training Talk with Scott DeFilippis and Carrie Lester | EP#240

 June 29, 2020

By  Mikael Eriksson


In this Episode you'll learn about:

  • Scott's and Carrie's athletic and coaching careers and backgrounds
  • Being coached and mentored by Brett Sutton of TriSutto
  • The influence of Gerry Rodrigues on their swim training
  • Scott's and Carries coach-athlete relationship and process
  • A normal training week and changes to the norm during Covid-19
  • Differences between males and females in training and training tolerance
  • Advice for age-groupers

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04:45 - 

  • Carrie: I started with triathlon quite late in life, at the age of 23-24 years old, before then I had ran some track (mainly sprint distances), played a little water polo in high school and was overall quite engaged in sports throughout my entire childhood.

    Before I turned professional, I raced as an age grouper for 4-5 years.

    The first races I did were very short, I think the distances of my first race was 200m swim, 10k bike and 2k run, and after that I completely fell in love with the sport and from there I wanted to challenge myself on longer and longer distances.

    After that I joined a training group on the Sunshine coast in Australia, which had a really great coach for beginners who I learned plenty from.
  • Scott: As a kid I was really active but was in fact afraid of the Ocean quite late into my youth.

    In high school I started running and had quite some success on the track, hence I later on joined the University of Tennessee’s running team.

    During my University years I was introduced to triathlon and joined the American triathlon federation’s talent program for some time.

    However, due to external circumstances in life at that time, I quit triathlon for a few years and decided to focus more on my running, which I managed to develop during this time.

    Later on, at the age of 28 when things in life looked a little differently, I got put together with Brett Sutton, who took me under his wing.

    He then had a three year plan for me to become an earning professional triathlete, which he also ended up becoming true.

    I am forever grateful for the opportunity that Brett offered me at that time, it completely changed my life and I had the chance to really live my dream life for several years.

    We basically only had one setback during my first three years with Brett Sutton, which was a broken collarbone, but the same season as this incident, I really broke through (this was in 2012).

Training that I felt I benefited from the most

19:15 -

  • It was all mental training for me (Scott), I had ran low 2:20h for the marathon and 1:05h for the half marathon but I really needed to develop my mental strength in order to be prepared for performing on a marathon after 4,5-5h on the bike.

    So we did some really mentally challenging run workouts where we ran 50k in extremely intense heat just in order to break mental barriers.

    And it was the same with the swim and bike, swim sessions like 100x100m broke barriers as well as some really grueling bike camps in the Swiss alps where we had to climb epic climbs to get back home every single day.

Changes in training over the years (Carrie)

21:35 -

  • My training has changed quite significantly over the last 3-4 years.

    In 2013-2014 we moved around a lot and tried to figure out what works best for us and where geographically we could find the best training.

    This whole situation ”stabilized” in 2015 where we in a way found out what worked for us, where we wanted to live etc.

    Training wise, we now focus a lot more on the swim where we have brought in swim coach Jerry Rodriguez of the Tower 26 training program who has helped us to develop our swim significantly.

    On the bike, we are also more structured and doing much less long and easy rides, the rides have a stringer focus and a bit higher intensity.

    In the run, we basically have 2 key workouts (with a strong purpose) every week and the rest is I wouldn’t it call it junk milage but considerably less structured.

    Before it was more about ”getting the volume in”.

Typical training week (Carrie)

25:45 -

  • In a high volume week, the overall training time is around 25h and then I the swim is about 6h, riding 12-15h and about 7h running.

    A more typical training week is around 20h of total training volume.
  • Mondays, in the morning we typically do a pretty big swim, with some strength as well as intensity components and then in the evening a shorter and easier bike or run.
  • Tuesdays we also do a relatively big swim in the morning and once again a shorter afternoon session (bike or run)

    The big swim sessions are typically around 5000 yards.
  • On Wednesday we use to do longer strength oriented ride (4-4.5h) with plenty of climbing and a run off the bike.

    Strength and endurance is emphasized during this ride and the intensity is kept at Ironman effort or up to 70.3 intensity at most.
  • On Thursdays we typically have a quality run and a recovery swim.
  • Friday we generally have a hard swim and another structured bike session.

    This bike session use to be carried out indoors and is of higher intensity (threshold or above threshold).
  • In the weekends we do plenty of volume, a longer and/or structured run, a few recovery swims and some volume on the bike.

    This is the general schedule, which during big training blocks is repeated week after week.

Turning to coaching and coaching philosophy (Scott)

27:45 -

  • This was once again all about Brett who pretty early on started to encourage me to get into coaching.

    I had always been very interested in training and keen on discussing different training plans, so for Brett it was natural to ask me to join his coaching team.
  • Now I have my own coaching business but over the years I have had the chance to work with so many great coaches who I have learned so much from, such as Jerry on the swim and Matt Botrill on the bike.
  • Coaching philosophy wise, the Sutton and Lydiard foundation is definitely there, before it was very much just about ”volume, volume, volume” but I have come to think slightly differently on that point in recent years.

    More sessions have a stronger purpose and better structure.

    In the swim, Jerry prescribes plenty of high intensity swimming, which Carrie has benefited plenty from but sometimes the emphasizes on really fast swimming can be a little bit too high in my opinion.

    On the bike, we still do long rides but I have found that athletes respond quite differently to volume versus intensity in cycling, I myself for instance respond very well to 5-6h long rides while Carrie is benefitting much more from more intensity.

    On the run, Brett copied a lot from the massive sets of the African runners, which I have kept quite the same, for instance we can do 20x1k or 12x1 mile run sets.

Thoughts on intensity (Scott)

49:50 -

  • I still prescribe plenty of strength endurance sessions with big gear work.

    However, Carrie has benefited massively from shorter intervals such as 20-30s intervals as well.
  • Sweet spot and time trialling intensity is also rather highly emphasized.

Run training

52:25 -

  • Brett usually doesn’t prescribe high intensity intervals with the purpose of building central VO2max capacity, this is something that you can achieve in your hard swim sessions.

    However, bott me and Brett consider speed work on the run to be of great importance, but it is always carried out with some kind of control and long recovery between efforts.

Coaching age group athletes

55:35 -

  • I always try and keep things simple, both with age groupers and professionals, which I am highly influenced by Brett about.
  • I also like to stress to my athletes not to get too consumed about the sport, triathlon is supposed to enhance your life and not the other way around and this is a very important aspect.
  • Training wise, my age groupers do pretty much the same type of sessions but it is all scaled down, both in number of sessions and interval reps-

    However, I try to really sell in the swimming as a very important part of the training and encourage my athletes to swim 5 days a week.
  • With the current pandemic situation, which has highly impacted most athletes possibility to swim, I think it is important to accept the situation as it is and not stress over it, stretch cords can also be useful when one is not able to swim.

Good execution of training and racing

1:05:50 -

  • (Carrie) I would say that confidence, focus, having clear goals within the session or the race, know that you are prepared and display confidence in your ability to perform are the most important things.
  • (Scott) I agree with Carrie that being confident in what you’re capable of executing on race day is perhaps the most important aspect of this, that is also Brett’s philosophy.

Rapid fire questions

1:08:20 -

  • What is your favorite book, blog or resource related to triathlon? Carrie - I have two books that I have carried with me during the last couple of years, one of them is called ”Food for Sports Performance”, which is really great and I have a bit of a passion for the nutrion side of sports. Scott - I really enjoy this podcast! But I am also a big fan of Jack Daniels books on running.
  • What is your favorite piece of gear or equipment? Carrie - My swim fins and my snorkel. Scott - I also have to say the swim snorkel, especially for adult onset swimmers.
  • What do you wish you would have known or done differently earlier in the career? Carrie - I actually don’t think I wish I had done anything differently, sometimes I wish we wouldn’t have gone there or stayed for so long time on another place but after closer thoughts I am happy about everything we have explored and discovered, maybe I wish I had started earlier with triathlon! Scott - I wish I had learned to swim at an earlier age, sometimes I tell my athletes that I wish I had met with Jerry Rodriguez earlier but as I was 28 and met with Brett, this was just the right time to bring take myself on his training.


Mikael Eriksson

I am a full-time triathlon coach, founder of Scientific Triathlon, and host of the top-rated podcast That Triathlon Show. I am from Finland but live in Lisbon, Portugal.

Please contact me if you have feedback on the podcast or want to make suggestions for improvement or send in a question for a Q&A episode.

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