10 things your coach often says… and what they really mean

Tri coaches have a rich lexicon of terms, which say one thing yet mean another, in order to mix a bit of encouragement in their ear-bashing, says Martyn Brunt. Here then, for your education, are ten things your coach says and what they really mean when they say them


Shortly after I took up triathlon I acquired that lethal combination of having no discernible talent yet believing I was the dog’s b*****ks. However it wasn’t long before my failure to win Kona (or indeed get within 50 places of qualifying) began to challenge this notion so I decided to seek professional help in the form of a coach.


Several years later and despite everything they put me through I am still with the same coach, suggesting I might be suffering from some kind of Stockholm Syndrome. And these days I have not one but TWO coaches to torment me, the other being my swimming club coach who makes me sick so often in the mornings I’ve nicknamed him “Pregnancy” and who has lungs like a two-year-old dolphin and a voice that is the perfect accompaniment to my tinnitus.

In fairness coaches have a tough job because they have to walk a fine line between telling you the truth that you have all the fitness of a potato and the athletic grace of a dyspraxic hippo, while needing to give you the crumb of hope that this will change one day…

1. “Well tried” = “You failed”

2. “This is the last rep” = “There are ten more reps”

3. “We’re going to keep the pace nice and steady today” = “You’re not going to be able to walk tomorrow”

4. “Let’s try and pick up the pace on this next set” = “I can’t even find anything neutral, let alone positive, to say about how slowly you are going”

5. “Keep your cadence high” = “I’ve seen kebabs in chip shop windows going round faster than your legs”

6. “Don’t forget your technique when you get tired” = “I actually though you were drowning on that last rep and your breathing sounds like an asthma clinic”

7. “You have lots of potential” = “You’re lazy and you’re making me look bad”

8. “Where do you think you can improve?” = “Your performance in that race moved me in a way that I thought only a chicken vindaloo could”

9. “Of course I’ll send you the set to do on your own” = “If you want any more details of my sessions you’ll have to take me to the Supreme Court”

10. “Recovery session tomorrow” = “I will break you”

And finally, and perhaps most importantly, three things we all say to our coaches, and what we really mean…

1. “Thanks coach” = “I hate you”

2. “That was a tough session” = “I hope you die in a fire”


3. “I think I must be coming down with something” = “I had five pints of Tenants Extra last night”

More by Martyn

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Tri tosh translator: 10 things triathletes say – and what they really mean

21 baffling things about triathlon

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5 ways triathlon transforms your life…

10 reasons why you should never do an Ironman…