Lance Watson: Coaching an Ultraman

Simon Whitfield’s former coach, Lance Watson, is now training Mexican ultra-triathlete Iñaki de la Parra. Katrina Roy met him

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Canada’s Lance Watson has previously coached several champions such as Lisa Bentley (10 Ironman wins) and Simon Whitfield (Olympic and Commonwealth Games Gold). He’s now preparing Mexican ultra-triathlete Iñaki de la Parra (read more here) in his attempt of a hat-trick of wins at 2013’s Ultraman UK, Canada and Hawaii.

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Training a champion

When asked who can do the Ultraman, Lance replied, "Anyone. You can train someone within a year to compete but they have to be willing to put in a lot of effort."

He continued, "That's what I saw in Iñaki (pictured below). When he asked me to coach him I saw that he was passionate as well as very consistent when running, cycling and swimming. It has a lot to do with the way you think. The reason he is topping the leader board in Ultraman and not previously in Ironman is because his mind is set for consistency, so we had to take advantage of that and use it in ultra-triathlons.

“When you’re training an athlete, first you teach them to train; then you teach them to race; then you teach them to win. Within weeks I could see Iñaki had far more talent than he ever expressed, because he was able to produce power on the bike and run at a good tempo with not much background.

“His body is bullet proof, too. That’s also why they call him the bull. It’s his determination and attitude, but also he’s strong.”

Adapting your coaching style

“I started coaching triathlon in 1987 and joined the international spectrum in the mid-90s. With that comes a breath of experience. I can realise the strengths and weaknesses of each athlete.

 “There are some things we can't control, such as your general body type – we are not all born with thin, long-limbed bodies, so understanding how each athlete works and adapting training to their style will get the best results. But we can maximise what each athlete does have, by working on technical efficiency, while improving diet for recovery and to reach optimal body composition.”

Passing on the inspiration for coaching

Lance is said to have inspired many of his previous athletes like Simon Whitfield and Lisa Bentley to take on roles such as triathlon ambassadors and start up personal coaching and camps.

De la Parra seems to be following in his coach’s footsteps. He has said in five years’ time he wants to be coaching many athletes in Mexico and worldwide, and has also been motivated to work with ‘Life Sport Coaching’.

Lance feels proud of having come across such a determined “bull”, who has proven to have the physical and mental abilities to achieve major goals; in his own words, the coach said: “I’ve just been really fortunate to work with great athletes over the years and I’ve found another one.”

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Katrina Roy is a freelance journalist based in Southampton. More at www.katrinaroy.wordpress.com or www.solentjournalism.co.uk.