Finding the hidden athlete

There's a hidden athlete inside all of us. That's mostly the way it stays - hidden.

Even if we train, it's usually inefficient, badly targeted and haphazard.

I trained as a runner and later as a triathlete from my mid-30s, doing what I had time for, with no plan. I didn't do much stretching because I never had time, so I got injured.

Like most people, work and family were pressing and training was fitted in as and when I could do it.

I could have done much better if the training I did had been focused and purposeful. It wasn't until my 60th year that I decided to see how good I could be if I trained properly.

I took on a paid coach, Lionel Padial, and made sure I did what he told me and I had the best season of my life.

It's a bit addictive. Now I'm in my 65th year and moving into a new age group, I'm doing it again, with the goal of gaining a place in all the national triathlon events from sprint to half ironman.

It might be asking for bad luck to announce it, but declaring your intentions is a good motivational tool.

How good could you be if you focused entirely on an event?

The Nelson Mail Team Triathlon is on March 2 next year. It's an event to do with two friends, family members or workmates. Each member swims 300 metres, bikes 8km and runs 3km before tagging the next person in the team.

You may never have done a triathlon before, or you may want to do this one a little bit better than you thought possible.

Here's your chance to peel off the layers of inefficiency and reveal the triathlete you could be.

In a package deal, you can enter the event with your team and have two sessions with swim coach Lionel Padial, including video analysis of your stroke so you know exactly where your strengths and weaknesses are. The first session will be early on and the second a month later when you've had a chance to work on your problem areas.

You'll also get three team sessions with triathlete and Migym personal trainer Nige Burgess taking you through running, cycling and general triathlon techniques.

You'll have mutual support from your team members as you make progress together.

Your coaches will help and advise you as you work through daily training sessions compiled by Nelson's top triathlete Jon Linyard. I'll also be at hand to give advice as and when I can.

If anything goes wrong, or if you need a massage to loosen up, you'll have discounted attention from Makos physiotherapist Candace Donovan and her team at Sports Therapy.

For all this attention for the two months leading up to the March race day, it'll cost each team member $120. The total package, including the $30 race entry per person, will come to $450 for the entire team.

If you take this package up, you're going to see some huge improvements in your fitness, your attitude and your confidence. In fact, you could be role models. There'll be a draw from the entries received by December 25 and one team will get all their money back as a Christmas present. Not only that, but any physio attention they need will be free.

In return, they'll be the subject of frequent observation from this column as we trace their progress through January and February.

There'll be comment from the coaches on how their charges are doing. There'll be comment from the budding triathletes on how they feel their progress is going.

Of course, there's no compulsion to be the subject of such scrutiny - you can just buy the package and train anonymously.

But the team that gets the package free will need to agree to be our role models.

It's like giving up smoking. If you tell people your goals, you'll feel more committed. If you win the package, you'll have an incentive to stick with it as this column follows you every step of the way.

If you're going to get a team together and enter the Nelson Mail Team Triathlon - it's time to start planning.

Find two friends and commit yourself to being the best you can.

Whether you take up the full package, or just put in a team entry, you can do it now.

Entries are open at

The Nelson Mail