Fitness Pro Interview: Steve Davis Triathlon Coach

Fluid Movements is one of the most successful triathlon teams in Australia, producing many Amateur World Champions in different age groups every year. In this interview we introduce Steve Davis, assistant coach of Fluid Movements who dedicates all his passion and expertise to athletes of all levels – to help them reach their individual goals.

Having reached high levels of Junior Tennis, Australian Rules Football, Freestyle Martial Arts, Muay Thai Kickboxing and Age Group Triathlon, Steve began to coach triathlon in Ireland before returning to Australia to be mentored by Sean Foster. Over the last few years Steve has grown into his role as Fluid Triathlon Main Squad Coach developing beginner athletes and moulding them into local series podium and World Championship team members. At the same time Steve ensures that those athletes that are more in it for the fun and camaraderie of the sport continue to improve and enjoy their experience of triathlon.

Lets start with an intro, who exactly is Steve Davis?

I am just a keen learner and a hard worker. I surround myself with honest, successful people, and I make myself a loyal student. I listen to what they say, I watch what they do, then I add my own twist based on my life experiences, and so far for me that has been a hugely successful path through sport and life.

How did you first get involved in Triathlon and what motivated you to become a Triathlon coach?

I became interested in Triathlon after being a Microbiologist and Brewer for 7 years and living the life of a young country lad new to the big city. After one too many nights of excess I ended up hospital over Christmas and I knew then that I needed to straighten my life out, and I spent the next few nights deciding that the hardest thing I could think of ever doing that would require my full dedication to a healthier lifestyle would be an Ironman Triathlon. So the day I was discharged from hospital, I went to a bike store and bought a bike, while I was there I saw a flyer for Sean Foster’s Fluid Triathlon coaching group and I made the call that night. The rest, as they say, is history.

Steve David Triathlon Coach

What is your biggest accomplishment in sport?

I couldn’t name just one big accomplishment. I think the thing that has made me the successful coach I am today is all the little successes and failures I have had in sport. I have been involved in 7 Premierships across several sports, I have won a handful of local races, more importantly I have come 4th by 7 seconds or less 4 times in my triathlon racing career – something I regret every day and always tell my beginner athletes about, I made the Aust World Championship Age Group Long Course Team, and in the same year I missed out on the Short Course Team by 2 points.

What is your favourite memory as a coach?

My favourite memory is every time I get an excited text or email from an athlete who has PB’s or made a Worlds Team or won a medal when they never thought they would.

Which leg is your least favourite out of the three?

Swimming is my least favourite because it is the leg that allows you the highest number of chances to not do a session leading up to actually getting into the pool.

How and when did you realise that a career in coaching is the right path for you?

It was a convoluted path for me to get into tri coaching, and one that I would never have dreamed would happen. I was always a leader in team sports being the Captain or Vice-Captain of almost every team I was involved in, and on the days that a coach was absent it was generally me who just took the bull by the horns and made up a session and coordinated the people around me to get started. When I moved to Ireland it was the middle of the GFC and I was struggling to find a way to pay the bills, so I decided to start up my own tri coaching business to keep me afloat. Turns out I was pretty good at it and after 3 years in Ireland I received an email from Sean Foster asking if I would like to return to Australia and be an assistant coach at Fluid Triathlon. I spent a few days weighing up my options, but that was pretty much the day that made me think that under the guidance of a great mentor like Sean, this was something that I could really jump into and make a living off something that I love doing.

How do you keep your training knowledge up-to-date?

I complete a lot of study in my own time, and as I said before, I make sure I surround myself with successful people, so I never stop learning every day from them.

What is your philosophy of coaching? What is your program/training philosophy?

Work Hard and Never Give Up.

How do you structure your tri-training?

Firstly, the program sessions are structured around recovery to make sure that an athlete is in the right physical and mental state to complete the quality within the harder sessions. Secondly, there are no shortcuts. If you want sustained improvement without injury then the only way is by small incremental improvements over time.

What sort of cross training do you incorporate into your programs?

Triathlon is already three very different sports so there’s not much more cross training that can be done. If an athlete is robust enough then yoga, pilates, strength and conditioning, cross country running and mountain biking are all excellent additions to a training program, but they have to be weighed up for each individual as to the risk to reward ratio.

If you could change something about Triathlon, what would it – if anything – be and why?

I think the new Super League Triathlon is a great step in the right direction to bring tri back to its glory days of the 80’s and early 90’s when I used to religiously watch the St George Series on TV.

Melbourne

You are running a successful triathlon club in Melbourne. Who are they and what are their goals? (how many members, leisure and hard-core amateurs and ‘age grouppers’, podiums…etc.)

The Club has always prided itself on being able to offer quality coaching and a fun training environment for any level of athlete. We want to be an inclusive club to all triathlon enthusiasts, i think sometimes this can make my job of administering a program that covers all levels a bit tougher, but it is far more rewarding in the washup.

In your team there are quite a few Iron man champs. What are the club’s greatest achievements?

I actually think that our clubs greatest achievements in Ironman or across any distance really, is the huge support from those not racing on the day. Ordinary people who aren’t even racing wake up at 4am, sometimes travel interstate and internationally, yell and cheer all day for club members, some of whom they don’t even know, put up tents, cook BBQ’s, post updates for those at home on social media, provide encouragement all day and into the night, then head out and help them celebrate with a few cold frothies before finally getting home to bed well past midnight. If your club consistently has that kind of ‘mateship’, then that is any clubs biggest achievement.

What are your goals and dreams for the club and its members for 2017?

Personally I want to see more kids getting into the sport. It is such a healthy club environment to grow up in and provides so many positive life skills that they can take into any school or workplace. The people in our club are amazing, caring people and for kids to be exposed to such a positive, hard working social atmosphere can only be a good thing.

Fluid Movement’s motto is ’Train to Race’! How can you help someone who decides in their 30s to become a triathlate to achieve their dreams? (Some have dreams to complete a sprint triathlon other’s have podium dreams…)

We treat every athlete as an individual. Anyone that comes to us completes a screening that tells us what they have done, what they currently do and what they want to achieve. We take that information, we learn about that persons dedication, lifestyle, work, family, strengths and weaknesses and we write a program that best fits them. If they trust their coach, communicate well and train consistently, then our programs will get them where they want to go.

Steve Davis Fluid MovementsWhat are your favourite exercises to gain and improve fitness?

1. Given the importance of recovery within our program, my favourite ’exercise’ would be self massage with a Massage Stick. A little bit more flexible and easy to manouver than a foam roller, a massage stick can get into those niggly hard to reach places, especially the claves and traps.

2. Fartlek sessions (alternating change of intensity) – As different physiological parameters are trained at different heart rate zones, a Heart Rate Monitor is essential to track which heart rate zone you are working in within a session.

3. Flexibilty and Range of Motion exercises are hugely important. We punish our bodies day in and day out, so making sure they stay pliable and flexible is the key to avoiding injury. The most functional and useful tool for this would be a tether band. Small, light, easy to pack and easy to use at work, at home and while travelling.

Do you follow any specific nutrition plans? What would be your advice to maximize performance?

Quality Calories is my motto. The old saying ’You are What You Eat’ rings pretty true with me. Nutritional fads come and go and come back around again every 7-10 years. Eat a balanced diet with food that is minimally processed and you will look and feel great and have all the energy you require to train.

What is the biggest nutrition mistake that you see people making on an Ironman?

The biggest mistake is only considering race nutrition a few weeks out from the event. To have a successful race with minimal digestive issues requires planning and practice many times though your lead up. Never try something new on race day.

“Never try something new on race day”.

Any advice to novice/rookie triathletes? Special advice to age grouppers?

Get a coach who knows how to help you improve without injuring you and is willing to put in the time to get to know you, your work and life so you get a program and sessions that suit you. Having one coach across swimming, bike and run is a huge bonus because that coach knows more about your body than you do and can see when you are tired or struggling and can make adjustments on the fly to keep you from injuring yourself. Some beginners need pushing, others need reigning in.

Finally, what are your personal goals, how do you see yourself and/or Fluid Movements growing?

My personal goals are to get people involved in Tritahlon and make it a lifestyle for them. As i mentioned before, tri clubs have great people in them who work hard for their success on and off the track and if you are going to have a hobby, then triathlon is a well rounded, interesting, achievable, challenging sport.

If you’d like to get in touch with Steve, or find out more about Fluid Movements, then check out www.fluidmovements.com

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