Best Coaches Special : Joel Filliol

Joel Filliol is one of triathlon’s most experienced and successful professional coaches. He has been involved in endurance sport since 1989 both as an athlete and coach. As an athlete Joel has competed in over 100 triathlon and multisport events and represented Canada at World Championships in Triathlon and Duathlon. As a coach he has worked with athletes at the highest levels including at the Ironman and Ironman 70.3 World Championships, the ITU World Elite and Age Group Championships, and multisport games such as the Commonwealth, Pan American, and Olympic Games.

Coach Joel works with athletes with a deep commitment to achieve their absolute best performances. He has had success with athletes in all disciplines of multisports including Ironman and long distance racing, non drafting short distance and ITU draft legal events.

Triathlon World : You are a very famous coach. What is your training philosophy? What are the main issues in training that you have changed totally your views/ opinion through these years that you are involved with training?

Joel Filliol : My approach to triathlon is very simple: it’s about doing the right level of work, at the right time for the individual athlete, which allows the maximal rate of adaptation. We do the right work, and back it up every day. My views have evolved over time to simplify what is really important to performance, what is the right work, and what leads athletes off track.

Triathlon World : What are the most common mistakes that age group triathletes are doing and never stop repeating?

Joel Filliol : One common error is simply not training often enough and therefore not being conditioned enough to meet their goals. Another is training at a overall workload that is too high to be consistently achieved, therefore leading to interruptions through injury or illness. The right training for an individual needs to be manageable and progress over time as the athlete adapts, vs. doing too much or too little at any given time.

Triathlon World : Could you give to our readers – most of them are age groupers- some tips for a fast improvement?

Joel Filliol : There are no shortcuts, and no real way to a fast improvement.  Training more frequently, and if necessary, shorter sessions with more intensity with the aim of getting faster aerobically will help over all racing distances.

 

Triathlon World : Michael Jordan used to say that you can shoot 8 hours a day but if you have the wrong technique you will end up becoming the best shooter with this wrong technique. What is your comment on that take in consideration that triathletes don’t have good technique in any of the three sports.

Joel Filliol : Fitness trumps technique. Triathlon is not a sport where the highest level of skills are essential for success. When an athletes conditioning improves, the ability to hold better technique usually follows.

Triathlon World : Is it possible for someone to improve in swimming without the supervision of a triathlon coach during the swim session? How different is to train under the supervision of a coach (as the athletes of a swimming or running club are doing in Europe) and to receive a training schedule through internet?

 

Joel Filliol :Yes it’s possible to improve without a coach present on deck, by doing the right kind of training. Most skill and technique work that triathletes do doesn’t significant change their technique. Instead focus should whole stroke quality through exercises that promote good technique such as swimming with an ankle band, swimming with paddles and a pull bouy, and more repetitions of shorter intervals, vs longer slower paced swimming. For athletes with little to no swim background, getting immediate technical feedback from a coach will accelerate this process.

 

Triathlon World : What tests do you recommend to triathletes in order to measure their progress (laboratory tests and tests on the field)?

Joel Filliol : No specific tests are necessary to improve as an athlete. The best testing of the training is the race results achieved, these are the only performances that really matter. If there is progress in racing, then we know we are on the right track. In training, by repeating similar sessions we can see progress over time, but these don’t need to be set up as tests, but simply the right type of sessions, designed to improve a specific objective, and repeated for long enough to see improvement.

 

Triathlon World: What instruments do you think that are necessary in order to monitor the intensity of each session?

Joel Filliol :The only thing that is required is a commitment to get out the door, and put one foot/stroke in front of the other. Not even a stop watch is strictly necessary. The best monitor of intensity is the athletes’ brain, and an aim of training is to calibrate the brain to the bodys signals, in order to perform at the highest level, consistently.