The National Triathlon Team of Norway has a fascinating story. Head Coach Arild Tveiten started with just a small handful of athletes interested in the sport. With the right investment of time (8 years!), dedication and a heavy focus on sport science (forget 80/20 training, they are using 90/10!), athlete Kristian Blummenfelt was able to bring home his first gold in triathlon from Tokyo.
Discover what it takes for a small country to build a successful team from the ground up, despite limited funding and manpower.
“The (Norweigian Triathlon) Federation had made a strategic plan… to achieve a medal in the Olympics 2020. And back at that time, I thought, wow, this is crazy because we have no one, we have maybe one junior who can race internationally at that time, and that was Christian. But on the other hand… when you have a goal like that, it means that you need to try to do something extraordinary to try to be the best coach you can be every day. And for me, that was a really internal motivation.”
“We have a kind of way to approach training and what we should do in training that’s not based on normal periodization theory, but what we actually see on the lab test — what the athletes need to do to develop.”
“If we have foreign athletes training with us, they do it wrong 90% of the time. They start out too hard, so they blow up. Or maybe they are able to keep the pace, but their lactate skyrockets high compared to what it should be.”
“The education part is quite important. What you see with older athletes when you are not having a dictating way of coaching them, but you are having a discussion with them — you are learning how they react to training, you are doing the tests you do, and you involve them in the training discussion — then you see that the way you coach, let’s say, Christian today is totally different from what we did when he was 16; because now, he actually knows what he needs to do because of the little bit that he has learned from us, and also because he’s so interested in it because he wants to be the best.”
“When we were coming into Tokyo, we as coaches were very sure that we had done all we could to get the athletes ready. So when we were coming into the Olympic village, it was more or less, ‘okay, we know you’re ready, the next days you just do the training you know you need to do to be ready for race day.’ We would just stop you if you’re overdoing it and doing too hard a session… So in many ways, we were quite sure leading up to the race that we couldn’t have done anything better.”