‘Coach doesn’t pat my back at all’ – Lionel Sanders on Mikal Iden link

Lionel on his new coach, and what makes the Norwegians tick


Lionel Sanders is now a few short months into his link-up with his (relatively) new coach Mikal Iden, but how are things going so far?

The Canadian effectively decided that if you can’t beat them, you should join them when he linked up with Mikal (coach and brother of two-time IRONMAN 70.3 World Champion Gustav Iden) following a meeting at The Collins Cup in Samorin last August.

Now, as the 2022 season approaches, ‘No Limits’ posted a typically insightful YouTube video to talk about how the relationship is developing.

Sanders was asked about a past comment from Cam Wurf, who apparently once said that Lionel has ‘too many back patters in his life’. The response, given here in the context of the link-up with Mikal, was illuminating.

Lionel on Mikal

“Coach doesn’t pat my back at all, I would say. I think one time he told me ‘good job’ thus far, in the last six months,” said Lionel.

YouTube video

“The reality is, he’s seeing what the best guys in the world are doing. He sees what I’m doing, and he sees that what I’m doing doesn’t deserve too much back-patting.

“This is sport, you want to be the best in the world, you have to face reality. These guys are better than I am, they have better honed their systems, they may very well be more talented.

“Does that mean that I’m gonna quit? Does that mean I’m not gonna try and win? Does that mean I can’t be world champion? Absolutely not, but I’m gonna have to do it by maximising every aspect of training that I can. And I certainly was not doing that.

“Now at least I have someone who can give me a lot of insight into what I was doing incorrectly and how to fix it. And that’s what I’ve been doing and now I’m doing that to the best of my ability.”

Sanders on the Norwegian way

The rise to prominence of Gustav Iden and Olympic Champion Kristian Blummenfelt in particular have made the Norwegian program the hottest thing in triathlon right now. Sanders had an interesting take on what makes them tick having seen more closely their way of working.

“You know what’s fascinating about them, is that they don’t claim to know everything. That’s actually, probably the hallmark is, that they’re constantly testing because they’re not claiming to know what’s happening, because how could you claim to know what’s happening without testing?

“They’re testing regularly, they’re constantly researching, doing new things, trying to understand how systems work better, trying to find new processes to hone training. That is probably the hallmark of the program.

“Yeah, they do know a lot, but they are also very open and receptive to new data and to new processes – new ways of perhaps using old data. And that’s the intriguing part, and that’s what I’m enjoying.

“I’m not on Team Norway, I’m working with Mikal, he obviously sees what’s going on. I’m sure I’m not getting all of the data, you know what I mean, because there is a vested interest with Team Norway, more so than with me.

“But that’s all fine and dandy, no problem, I’m getting plenty of what I need right now, and I’ve got a lot of low-hanging fruit, because I have been trying for ultra endurance and probably have been training pretty poorly in terms of the opposite way that you’d want to push your system.

“I’m thankful to just have even a little bit of the knowledge coming my way.”

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