Podcast, Training

Training talk with Louis Delahaije | EP#301

 August 30, 2021

By  Mikael Eriksson


Louis Delahaije is the head coach of the Netherlands Triathlon Federation and the individual coach of athletes like Rachel Klamer, Maya Kingma and Richard Murray in triathlon, and Annemiek van Vleuten in cycling. After great Olympic success (the Netherlands were 4th in the Mixed Team Relay, Klamer was 4th in the individual race, and in cycling, van Vleuten took silver in the women's road race and goal in the Time Trial) in Tokyo, Louis joins us to discuss his training and coaching philosophy, preparing for peak performances in Tokyo, and much more.

In this Episode you'll learn about:

  • Louis' coaching philosophy
  • Polarised training
  • How much "quality work" do you need?
  • How much training volume do you need?
  • Specific tips for effective swim, bike and run training
  • Preparations for a very successful Tokyo Olympics - tapering strategies and heat adaptation

Sponsored by:

Precision Fuel & Hydration
Precision Fuel & Hydration help athletes personalise their hydration and fueling strategies for training and racing. Use the free Fuel & Hydration Planner to get personalised plan for your carbohydrate, sodium and fluid intake in your next event. That Triathlon Show listeners get 15% off their first order of fuel and electrolyte products. Simply use this link and the discount will be auto-applied at the checkout.


Exceptional quality triathlon wetsuits, trisuits, swimskins, goggles, performance sunglasses as well as prescription eyeglasses and sunglasses.  Online vision test for prescription updates and home try-on options available for eyeglasses. Ships from  the US, UK and EU. Trusted by world-leading athletes such as  Lucy Charles-Barclay, Javier Gómez Noya, Flora Duffy, Morgan Pearson, Summer Rappaport and others in triathlon, cycling, speed skating, and many more. Visit roka.com/tts for 20% off your order.



04:20 -

  • My name is Louis Delahaije and I am from the Netherlands.
  • I am an endurance coach, coaching triathletes, cyclists and runners, which I have been doing for a very long time (all the way since 1990.
  • I am currently coaching the Netherlands triathlon team, and in recent years we have had great success.

Coaching and training philosophy

09:40 -

  • I would describe myself as a holistic coach, trying to see the ”whole athlete” and not just the training he or she does.
  • I try to make my athletes as ”fit” as possible, and with ”fit” I don’t mean speed or endurance, it’s much about getting my athletes as anti-fragile as possible, both from a mental (keep the athletes happy!) and physical perspective.

    After that you can start building speed and/or power.
  • From a metabolic fitness perspective I highly emphasize getting a as strong as possible aerobic system.

    I achieve that by prescribing a lot of volume (my Olympic athletes all train over 1000h per year).

    For injury prone athletes, most of the volume is achieved through cycling (my athletes do relatively low running volume).
  • From a neuromuscular fitness perspective, I try and get my athletes strong by introducing plenty of speed work in the swim and the run.
  • I am huge fan of a polarized training and implement that strategy very extensively in my coaching (applicable to both age group athletes and professionals).

    Around 10 % of the training that my athletes do is high intensity and the rest is easy aerobic training or ”tempo” work (IM bike power on the bike and marathon pace on the run, or the first lactate threshold).

Different muscle fibre phenotypes

32:30 -

  • For athletes that have slightly more fast twitch muscle fibers I am slightly more restrictive with high intensity training compared to athletes that have a more slow twitch muscle fiber composition.


35:15 -

  • I do a little bit of lactate testing but mostly I just let my athletes do different type of time trials like 1500m on the swim, power tests on the bike and different distances on the run.

Training and preparations for the Tokyo Olympic

38:50 -

  • The hot conditions in Tokyo did play a large role in our preparations for the games, we started early by doing heat preparations in a lab environment (heat chamber) and also did training camps in Africa where it was really hot, to prepare both physically as well as mentally.

    We only did heat work as low intensity (but it was also done on altitude).
  • In terms of tapering, the athletes did train rather hard two weeks before the race and then reduced the training volume as well as training stress quite much during the final week before the race.

Swim training

51:05 -

  • I do believe that most people swim too much in the ”middle intensity zone”, dare to swim really easy!

Enter your text here...

55:20 -

  • I would say that cycling is the easiest way of getting the aerobic volume in.
  • Also, in my experience, the running benefits highly from plenty of riding.

Run training

57:00 -

  • My best tips for running is to introduce sprints (50-100m @ around 3000m race pace) into many sessions.

Three top tips to amateur athletes

01:01:50 -

  • Try to enjoy what you do!
  • Volume triumphs quality all the time!
  • Vary your training!

Top tips to my ten years younger version of myself

01:03:55 -

  • Before I used to do very careful planning, which could be as far into the future as a full season.

    Today, I don’t make quite as diligent planning because I know that life is dynamic and things change all the time…

Current area of interest

01:07:30 -

  • The topic of fitness is something that I am currently very fascinated about.

Rapid fire questions

01:11:00 -

  • What is your favorite book, blog or resource related to endurance sports? Anti-fragile by Nassim Taleb and Peak Performance.
  • What is a personal habit that has helped you achieve success? Curiosity!
  • Who is somebody you look up to or has inspired you? Jean Jansem.


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.

If you are a long-time listener and appreciate the value the podcast brings, please consider taking a couple of minutes for leaving a rating and review on iTunes/Apple Podcasts, or wherever else you can think of leaving a rating and review.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Explore our products and services