Xhale and Challenge Family – what’s it all about?
Athlete, coach, podcast host of The Brick Session and triathlon software developer – Mark Livesey has been in the sport for a couple of decades now, in many different roles.
One of the things he has been involved in over the past four year is as co-founder of triathlon-specific training software platform, Xhale (www.trainxhale.com). Xhale recently announced (details HERE), a partnership with the Challenge Family series of middle and long distance triathlons, which includes the provision of race-specific training programmes for entrants to Challenge Family events.
I contacted Mark (who recently finished fourth overall at the Patagonman Xtreme Triathlon) to find out more about it.
How did the partnership with Challenge Family develop?
Xhale and Challenge share a lot of the same ideals and values. I respect what Challenge Family stand for, the fact that they put the athlete race experience first. They also invest in the triathlon, and local communities that build around the unique events they host. We also respect the attitude that Challenge have towards the professionals in our sport, and how they are continuing to tackle the drafting and overcrowding issues that now plague long course triathlon for both the age group and professional fields.
Similarly, the Xhale coaching and training platform has always had the athlete at its core. We have the athlete (and coach) at the centre of our functions, encouraging communication and engagement with the training process. Together, Challenge and Xhale saw an opportunity to help the growing number of athletes who compete in Challenge Family events to really get the best from themselves at these races through offering race specific programmes.
What does Xhale provide to users (and coaches) in terms of enhancing their own training/racing performances?
Xhale was originally developed to enable me (as a coach) to record the information I thought was useful for triathlon-specific training. Fast forward four years and while the platform has developed beyond recognition, the principle stays the same. Intuition, simplicity, and useful training functions are the key. The training diary gives the un-coached user the ability to monitor their own performance through direct overlay of sessions, and planning training becomes simple with the ability to drag and drop, and cache, training sessions.
Through our relationships with triathlon coaches and clubs, we are able to continually develop new functions to aid the user. Our goal is to provide a platform for the triathlon coach to communicate easily and regularly with their athletes, but a platform that also keeps up with changing trends in technology and the ever advancing need for instant information. The prescription and syncing of training data is pretty simple and can be done on all similar platforms. However, it is our belief that one of the key roles of the coach is to offer timely and accurate feedback so the athlete can learn, and develop physically and mentally each day.
For that reason we have developed functions such as the app which allows the athlete to fill in feedback instantly, an instant messenger between coach and athlete, and the ability for coaches to overlay similar sessions and monitor progress clearly as a result. Coaches and athletes alike come across to using Xhale and are always overwhelmed by how easy it is, and how it changes the coach/athlete relationship to a much closer one, almost instantly.
What benefits will Challenge Family entrants have access to through this partnership?
Xhale will be providing complimentary race-specific programmes for athletes who enter Challenge races. Challenge is keen to encourage first time triathletes to try the longer events like the middle distance races. Athletes can now enter a Challenge race and have access to a 12-week programme for that race. The beauty of this system is the athlete has the ability to adjust or move sessions within that programme to suit their specific ability or time commitments. The athlete can also save sessions to create their own training cache which they can then use for future events. It gives both the novice, and the more advanced athlete, a huge amount of information not just about how to train for a longer event, but also how to train specifically for the Challenge event they have entered. The programmes include top tips on the course from the race organisers, technical information about the event, and of course a heap of great training sessions to get them in top shape for the race so they can really enjoy the whole experience.
You raced (and won your Age-Group) at the Challenge Family Championship last year – is a return to Samorin on the cards for 2019?
Yes, I really enjoyed the Challenge Samorin race last year. The athlete experience was absolutely exceptional, and it is probably one of the most well organised events I have done in all my 25 years in triathlon. It was also great to meet some of the top names in our sport as the race now attracts the best professional athletes on the circuit. Their race was exciting to watch, even though I was racing my own race at the time.
I will race Challenge Gran Canaria in a few weeks time, and will aim to secure my slot for The Championships. Either way, I will be back there this year working with Challlenge to promote our partnership and also to promote this fantastic event.