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Episode 34: Aaron Royle: Dodgy Feet

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On today’s episode, Aaron Royle checks in with us from Spain! Aaron explains why American’s pronounce his name incorrectly. He discusses his success at such a young age. Sam and Aaron reflect on the advice they’d give to their younger selves. Finally, they look to the future of triathlons.

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Summary

Intro
Getting Into Triathlons
Pursuing the Sport
Rebuilding and Rebirth
2012: Breakout Year
2014 Commonwealth Games
Wizard’s International Flavor
Ask Not What Your Squad Can Do For You
The Issue of Overtraining
Looking Back
Advice to Give
What Are You Running From?
Where Are You Taking the Sport?
Outro

Transcript

Intro
Welcome to Triathlon Research, the podcast that brings together the world’s best triathlon coaches, athletes, equipment experts and medical professionals to get you the right information that you need to race past your personal best and get more enjoyment out of your triathlon journey. Triathlon Research, where we teach you how to train smart. Here’s your host, Samuel Cook, founder of Triathlon Research.

Samuel Cook
Hello Triathlon Research listener, this is Sam Cook back for another episode of Triathlon Research Radio and really I should actually say good day for those of you down under listen to this or should maybe even say Buenos Dias or Buenos Noches coz we’re sitting here in Spain, in bass country Spain with Aaron Royle who is an Australian national team member that is training with the Wollongong Wizards, actually has a very long history with the squad or the team that’s now known as Wollongong Wizards.

So Aaron is someone that I actually heard about a couple of years ago when I was working closely with Bobby McGee on the run transformation course that he did and I remember seeing some videos that Bobby brought back from Australia and one of the people that featured prominently in these videos was Aaron Royle doing some great bike handling skills demonstrations and some other things with Jamie Turner squad. So we’re just gonna have a conversation today with Aaron about what is like to live and grow up in a squad environment. Also wanna talk about triathlon in Australia because this is an episode where we really wanna kinda compare little bit about how the Australians do it coz they have a great record in triathlon. And then finally just see where the conversation leads us coz I have lot of fun hanging out with the Wizards here in Spain and Australians always have a way with making things interesting. So without further ado, good day Aaron, how are you doing?

Aaron Royle
Good day Sam and thanks for having me and even though you say my name Aaron wrong and Wollongong a bit funny, I won’t hold that against you.I’m good, thank you.

Samuel
Okay, we’ll get in to pronunciation because I think the Queen’s English which my father speaks from England, he would say that we both pronounce everything horribly so, but anyway, the two cousins of the proper English language we’ll go after here. So how do we pronounce your name properly Aaron?

Aaron
Well, the thing is Gwen who’s an American, she can’t say my name, it’s Aaron and there’s 2 As, A – A – R – O – N, and I’ll ask her to say, how do you say Aaron and she’ll say it and then I’ll ask her to say, how do you say Erin, the girl’s name and it sounds the same. So I don’t know what it is but some Americans just have their problems on it pronouncing my name so she just goes by Bugs and that’s my nickname and you can call me that or you see my Twitter profile, it’s either Rod or Roy or Bugs and most other people that don’t know me call me Aaron so take your pick.

Samuel
I guess if we’re gonna be formal about it, it would be Aaron which I’m maybe getting a little bit better.

Aaron
No, that’s better, you did that well, so you pronounced the double A.

Samuel
But really and the thing I’ve noticed hanging out with Australians is we all sat down and you guys introduced me to the Wizards and I made a big effort to remember all of your names and at the end, you said, don’t worry, you won’t hear those names again coz we all have like 4 nicknames for each other so…

Aaron
Pretty much so. I don’t know why, it’s the Aussie way and the one that you like the least is the one that normally sticks, sticks the way it is.

Samuel
And Americans really, I think we do nicknames at school but we kinda grow out of it but Australians, you just don’t seem to grow up.

Aaron
No, I mean, grow up tomorrow, why do you need to grow up today I guess. But yeah, Bugs is actually stuck with me, how old am I? I’m 25, geez, I’m getting old.

Samuel
Getting out there.

Aaron
Yeah, yeah, quarter of a half century, quarter of a century. I’ve had Bugs for a while now, it actually started as a term I redeemed from my mother and coach Jamie called my parents, he asked to speak to myself and my mom said and they were chatting for a little bit and she said to Jamie after a little while, I guess you wanna speak to Bugs? And Jamie said, Bugs? Who’s Bugs? Aaron. And I don’t know why but then it just stuck from there and I don’t know how we sort of go down to the nicknames but I guess…

Samuel
It’s an important part of your personality and maybe from a fan perspective, I think that’s a Twitter hash tag or something waiting to happen.

Aaron
It could happen. I actually, in London this year actually, I heard from the crowd random people who I don’t think I knew who they were, I couldn’t tell, I was racing, but I heard, go Bugs so I don’t seriously catch now, I live it out of our group so…

Samuel
We’ll make sure it catches on more so, and if it’s your mother’s nickname, it can’t be bad, right?

Aaron
No, no, there’s nothing bad behind it.

Samuel
That’s good. Well, okay Aaron, we’ve been here for a couple of days here in Spain, actually I’ve been here for a week preparing for this but we have 4, I would call them daring souls that are putting themselves through weeks’ worth of professional level training with the Wollongong Wizards but you’ve been with the Wizards for, or you’ve been with Jamie who is the coach of the Wizards for how long now? And if you could, I just like to have you tell me the story about how you gone in triathlon, little bit about that because I think it could be really be interesting for those of you who are thinking about becoming a professional triathlete no matter what age you are, just to hear the journey that you’ve taken to the elite levels of the world triathlon like.

Aaron
Yeah, like ourselves part of the Wollongong, well, before that, we aren’t actually called the Wollongong Wizards. I’ve been with Jamie now who’s I guess we call the head wizard or Dumbledore as some people like to call him.

Samuel
Samuel: Not Gandalf?

Aaron
Oh sorry, Gandalf, not Dumbledore, that’s the one, I even get confused…

Samuel
Come on people, Jamie is from New Zealand so you can’t get that wrong, from Lord of the Rings.

Aaron
Yah, I guess so I’m 25 now as I said earlier on and I’ve been with Jamie, I’ve been working with Jamie since I was probably 12 years old. And like most Australians, I grew up as a swimmer, that was my strong point, and because of that, I was just a little bit fit and I was quite aerobically fit and did well in the school system cross country that we have in Australia. And at the time, I was enjoying both and having quite a success in swimming and running and one of the swim coaches that I had at the time who used to do triathlon, who’s a triathlon athlete, he said, why don’t you come out to mate and try our club which is a triathlon club in Northern New South Wales, sorry, Mid North New South Wales in Australia. And I went out there on a crappy (…) that hardly win and the years got working properly but I went out there in (…) and that’s how sort of my first taste in to triathlon and sort of continue from that.

And in Australia, we have a school sport system and we do, we have the Australian All School System and I started to compete in that and Jamie was the junior development coach at the time and he sort of identified me someone that had a little bit of a talent in the sport and I guess that’s sort of where myself and Jamie’s relationship started. And at that time, I was living in New Castle in Wollongong and Jamie was based in Wollongong. Over the years of I was still at school, I’d go down in the school holidays and spent time with the squad that he had then which is obviously much different to what it is now but with some older elite athletes and so we’ve got to learn off them. And then I finished school in 2000…

Samuel
Okay, so we got a little bit interrupted there. Editor, make sure you edit that part out. But, so you were working with Jamie over the school holidays, right?

Aaron
Yes. So I would head down to Wollongong and try and learn from the elite athletes that he had at the time down there and I guess I had a hard decision to make when I finished school, I was 17 years old, 2007, and it was a point sort of where I decided do I go down the path of becoming an elite triathlete or getting a career and doing something, it was like, yes, it’s a bit stable. And my dad at the time, he wanted me to go down to career path I guess, the more stable career path that is of getting a job. And just down the road from New Castle in Australia, there’s some mines and he made me apply for about 4 or 5 different jobs in electrical apprenticeships that were going quite big at that time in New Castle where the mining boom happened in Australia and he sort of made me…

Samuel
That’s when the Chinese came in and bought up your country, right?

Aaron
Yeah, pretty much and now they’ve got too much of it and don’t really wanna buy it, that’s another story. And that’s not what I wanted to do, at the end of the day, I didn’t really wanna do that, I wanted to do triathlon and so I made the move down to Wollongong in 2007 and sort of move down the full time and that was tough, like it was hard to leave Australia, sorry not leave Australia, leave my home in New Castle at 17 years old, live out a home, never had any experience to that and try and become a professional triathlete and (…), I mean, that was I was aiming to be. And I guess I sort of put it bluntly, I sucked for a couple of years. As well, that was probably within our squad at the time, we didn’t have a great attitude I guess and really fed off each other that bad attitude and bad work ethic. And as I moved in to (…) at under 23 years, Jamie sort to had to make a few changes because what was happening wasn’t working and there was a couple of, wasn’t sort of one person that was bad, we work our ass all together and…

Samuel
Bad chemistry.

Aaron
… bad chemistry, someone’s being a bit lazy then you feel like you can be a bit lazy and the results were showing. And there was the whole restructure probably around about 2011 and that’s when I guess the Wizards that we have now started to form and probably from that earlier period, I was one of the only ones to sort of…

Samuel
Really ones that made the house cleaning.

Aaron
Yeah, pretty much, yeah, yeah.

Samuel
Must have been the nickname, right?

Aaron
Yah, I think so.

Samuel
Have someone named Bugs for your squad…

Aaron
Yeah, I’d be a bit sad, wouldn’t it?

Samuel
Well Aaron, before you go on, I’m fascinated by this, I call it one of the people that I’m, one of the influences that I’ve been really big fan on is, his literature is this guy named Joseph Campbell and just for the listeners, I’ll just. Indulge me a little bit on this. If Joseph Campbell is a mythology guy who studied mythology and Star Wars which is the best movie that had the worst actors of history, right? I mean, they had their reunion but if you look at Star Wars, none of the actors except for the unknown which is Harrison Ford, did anything afterwards but the movie was so good because the script was so good and the script was really followed to a tee. George Lucas had actually taken Joseph Campbell in the Hero’s Journey and deconstructed it all. One of the things that the Hero’s Journey says is it’s like every great myth, biblical story, film follows this path and the first part is when Luke leaves on this grand adventure and the doubts and the things like that. So anyway, long story short, I’ve always wanted to put that on a podcast.

I’m fascinated by triathlete, the professional triathlete decision to pursue this sport which is a bit irrational to pursue from a monetary perspective. Economically, it’s a not well paid sport yet people do it and you did it, what was that like, I wouldn’t say being rebellious coz you were just following your heart, but I think we’ve all experienced that your parents sometimes, I think that they know what you wanna do when you grow up and maybe have different ideas, what was that like?

Aaron
I mean, look, it wasn’t rebellious because my parents have been great sport as I was a young kid but they didn’t see a career in it and that’s, I guess as a parent, that’s what they wanted me to pursue so I think it’s gonna set me up for life and they didn’t sort of see that triathlon was going to be like that. And maybe because at the time when I was going through school as well, I wasn’t showing the commitment towards triathlon, even I still love it, I probably wasn’t showing that commitment. But once I made the decision, they decided to support me fully, it was as much as I could, we didn’t come from, my dad got a fruit and veg business but it’s a small business and as anyone with small business know that they go up and down and money wasn’t a big thing that we had a lot of but they’ve made sure that I had the best opportunity I could to do what I wanted to do. But I remember when I moved to Wollongong, paying rent, groceries, all that sort of stuff and then I was working actually in a fruit and veg business down in Wollongong, I couldn’t get away from it…

Samuel
Feels like working for your dad, right?

Aaron
Yeah, could have been better but I worked a lot a bit. I was working straight from 3 in the morning doing, getting fruit and veg and delivering it back down for the shop and then working ‘til about 11 in the morning then go in straight to training. After that, for 4 – 5 days a week and it was tough and I didn’t have a lot of money as I said and so I remember so many times at training, I’d be hunger inside in because I wouldn’t feel properly because I didn’t have the money to fuel myself right and…

Samuel
Even though you’re working for fruit and veg, you’re just eating…

Aaron
Well, yeah, I mean, there’s only so much fruit and veg you can have for 4 hour ride or hard run…

Samuel
Samuel: Needs some recovery.

Aaron
Yeah. It was actually pay me bananas at times at some point, he’d bonus in bananas, you’d take home some bananas which is gold.

Samuel

Aaron
And yeah, those first couple of years were quite tough and there’s many times where I guess I’ll probably question what I was doing and I spent, I went over to Europe my first year which was 2011 and I had an okay year for my first year, I had a couple of top 4, sorry, top 10 podiums in, sorry, top 10s in Continental Cups, RTUs Continental Cups and they won a little bit of prize money but I remember coming home at the end of that year and thinking, well, I’ve only got 2 choices here, I really have to not go down and take this as seriously as I can and get the best out of myself as I can or go on and do some other goals. And obviously at that time, I made the decision that I need to not go down and get better and, I mean, I still feel I’ve got a lot more to give in the sport but I’ve been happy and proud of some of the stuff that I have been out there able to achieve along the way as well.

Samuel
So when you had the self-doubts, did you talked to your parents, family, friends, would you keep it all to yourself?

Aaron
I normally keep a lot of stuff to myself to be honest.

Samuel
Good Australian way.

Aaron
Yeah…

Samuel
In America we’d be blogging…

Aaron
Yeah, blogging on the phone, I wanna listen to that over there. Yeah, look, yeah, I probably kept a lot to myself at the time, I do keep a lot to myself, I don’t really like to make my problems anyone else’s which is maybe not a good thing in some parts but I guess it’s probably natural though. I think every elite athletes had their day outs about their ability to make it whether they’re doing the right thing, whether they’re doing what they really wanna do but ultimately, you just remember why you’re doing it and for someone that does triathlon, normally the money side of it was never really been the big side or the big motivation whereas the love for the sport and being able to do something that you quite good at and you’re trying to pursue your goals that you have.

Samuel
Yeah. It’s interesting that the sport has not made anyone really rich as an athlete, I think maybe couple people might have made the better money at the sport but…

Aaron
Not Manny Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather…

Samuel
Yeah, exactly, exactly.

Aaron
Floyd “Money” Mayweather.

Samuel
Or even compared to the swimmers or pure runners right now, the triathlon pay is, I think it’s bit low and I think one of the things that I’m fascinated is, I’m not a coach but I always try to remind our listeners that I’m like a triathlon historian / businessman and interested in helping the sport grow because I think it’s having a positive impact on society. Western Society is a bit soft and little bit too comfortable and I think that those who pursue triathlon or some of these other sports in that vein are able to recapture some of the things that make us feel a little bit more alive. Point I was trying to make is it’s only been about 100 years since humans got very sedentary, I mean, most of our existence, we’re out either hunting and gathering or working in the fields and those were long exhausting back breaking days. So if you’ve done the pro triathlon life, like these 4 athletes who do in this week, they’re just learning what it’s like to do life again in my opinion which is dog tired every day and falls asleep right when the sun goes down.

So, well Aaron, so you had some down periods, the Wizards were kinda getting rebuilt, it seems like you and Jamie were on a lot of the same trajectory the whole time, talk about that down period for the Wizards and then the rebirth, well, of the squad and then the rebirth where you guys felt like you were deserving of a great name like the Wizards.

Aaron
Well, I mean, yeah, so like I was saying before, there’s a bit of change in the squad. Jamie shuffled around it a little bit and it actually formed in to an Australian squad at the time coz Jamie was an Australian, Triathlon Australia coach. And the name actually started over our squad is actually Jamie’s Angels after, I don’t know whether many people have heard this story but…

Samuel
Yeah, let’s talk about Jamie’s Angels.

Aaron
Jamie’s Angels so I was a Jamie’s Angel. Well, I mean, I sort of associate… I think Wollongong Wizards even though that’s not manly other than, I think it’s a little bit more, it has a better in to it I think. But yeah, after 2011 Beijing ITU World Championships, Jamie had straight junior girls and I think they went second, fifth and other one in the top 10 and the high performance director at the time was Michael Flynn and he said, I got to call them Jamie’s Angels from now on. After the meeting, after they’ve got the silver medal and that never really took off, I don’t know why but it never really took off. But then in the following year in 2012, that was the year I won the ITU under 23 World Championships and Ryan Bailey got 10th and I guess we outperformed the Angels in the squad and in the meeting, Michael Flynn, same high performance director said, looks like we have to change names from Jamie’s Angels to Wollongong Wizards.

Samuel
So Michael Flynn gets credit.

Aaron
Michael Flynn gets credit…

Samuel
He’ll send you the royalty check when the Wollongong Wizards get famous…

Aaron
Don’t tell him that, keep it among ourselves.

Samuel
No, I was joking. Michael, you just get the honor of being acknowledged for naming the Wizards.

Aaron
Yeah, shout out to Flynn-y.

Samuel
What’s he doing now?

Aaron
Flynn-y is in New Zealand actually so I think he’s high performance director or something with New Zealand Cycling so he’s kicking on still doing a good job I’m sure over there. So shout out to Flynn-y, I know he loves a part to be us so maybe he listens to this in the tab or at the pub…

Samuel
We’ll make sure he gets a copy of this. So really you’re winning the under 23 championships help renamed the squad and get your man have back?

Aaron
Yeah, go down man, go back. Well, the man holds us always there but we just won’t recognize…

Samuel
I got you, I got you, okay.

Aaron
He’s still trying to come back.

Samuel
Alright, we’ll interview Bryan and see what he says. Okay, so 2012 really is when you, I guess solidified your path, right? When you win the under 23, there’s really no going back, right? There’s just higher expectations and farther the fog moving forward so… Who are you racing against in that time, who else was in the under 23?

Aaron
So the podium was actually, they gone quite good now. Finando Alaza, so he’s actually I think sitting third in the World Series at the moment so he’s actually going really good. And Tom Bishop so he’s a British guy and he’s still going quite well now too. After 2012, it was not high but you start 2013, it’s a clean slate, no one obviously, that’s great and always have be 2012 under 23 world champion but everything started off again and you got to put in the work to get the results again like I had to do in 2012. And it was a little bit tough to sort of maintain that same sort of intensity and that level early on and I had some good results and then I had some bad results as well during 2013 and then I actually got sick midway through the year actually while in Spain and during the race in Madrid I got 2 back general infections and got in to my lung, I had a hole in my lung about a 12 millimeter hole and I spent 2 weeks in hospital. Actually this time, exactly 2 years ago so June 2 years ago, and that was the year that we had a qualifying race for Commonwealth Games and for those who don’t know what Commonwealth Games are, kind of a pretty big deal in Australia, it’s always live on TV, you got the Olympics and the Commonwealth games.

Samuel
And Commonwealth is where, and I just happened to know this coz I’m half British. I remember watching the Commonwealth Games which is all of the former dominions of her majesty’s empire aside from the United State which I guess never entered…

Aaron

Samuel
… coz we fought our way out of it quite obnoxiously, right?

Aaron
Still fighting.

Samuel
Still fighting the British out. And that, the Commonwealth Games is like half the earth, right? Or how many countries are in it?

Aaron
Well, that’s quite a lot, too long to name more now but…

Samuel
The big countries?

Aaron
Yeah, the big countries, obviously Australia, New Zealand, all of Great Britain, they break it down in to England, Wales, Scotland and I don’t know, what am I forgetting?

Samuel
Northern Ireland.

Aaron
Northern Ireland.

Samuel
That’s where I grew up.

Aaron
Okay, I can’t forget that one. And Canada as well so they’re the main countries that are in it. And so it was a big deal and going back to when I was sick in a hospital, it’s about 8 weeks out from that qualifying race and I felt my season my done. And going back to, yeah, when I won that under 23 world championships, I came out of hospital and had to sort of fight. Luck I did for that race to get myself back on the start line for the qualifying race which was in London, the World Championships of late 2013. And as it turned out, I probably had the race of my career up until the point in finishing 7th in the world championships in the elite field first year out of under 23s and qualified for the Commonwealth Games. And so that was a mixed year that I had after winning under 23 World Championships and lonely in a lot along the way of being out of trying to remain consistent but then also be able to go through something like that of being sick and then still being able to produce a good result towards the end of the year.

Samuel
Was the whole in the (…) still there at the Commonwealth Games?

Aaron
No, well, I mean, the scar and everything is still there, I’m still scarred by it mentally and physically but it’s no, it pretty much dissipated now.

Samuel
Okay, alright, wow. So you had quite a health scare and you got through that and qualified and then next was a Commonwealth Games, how did that go?

Aaron
Yeah, so that was 2014. Like I’ve got mixed emotions about that, I’ve spoken about it a bit since the games. My race didn’t go as our plan and things let me down will source that elude my strength in being the swimmer let me down big time and I had to both swim in (…) that generally I would make 90% of the time so that (…) I should say but I missed it and I just had a bad day and it was obviously very disappointing. I’ve got 8th in the individual race.

And then 48 hours later, we had the teams relay and obviously in triathlon, we don’t normally get a chance to turn around so quickly after a race to try and rectify our performance and in bicycle, I was able to do that and had a strong performance for the team and the Australian team had a strong performance in making third. So that was a positive out of what was a negative race just 48 hours earlier and obviously triathlon is an individual sport and so, and we race generally for ourselves but we got the opportunity to race for Australia in a relay and get a bronze medal and so that’s why I said I’ve got mixed emotions about it from Commonwealth Games, it was a moment I had some very big disappointments and some very big, yeah, good results in the relay as well.

Samuel
Samuel: Relay sounds fun, what leg are you on?

Aaron
I was second so, no, no, no. So the way the relay works in RTU format is you have a male, sorry, female – male – female – male and each person competes in a mini triathlon so each person does same background tags over the next one that they do the same background tags over to next one to the same background and then the last one in the same background and I think it was a distance of 300 meters swim, 8k bike and a 1 mile run so it’s quite short and sharp. We end up, I went off second and actually had the fastest leg out of everyone for the day which was about placing after the individual, I think I was just still so down about that one that I just gave everything that I had on the relay.

Samuel
Who else was on the…

Aaron
Australian team? So Emma Moffat was first tagged to myself and then I tagged to Emma Jackson and Ryan Bailey, training partner, he finished off with the sprint, finished for third, for second third fourth and fifth between South Africa, Australia, Canada and Ireland actually, Northern Ireland.

Samuel
Alright. So Tom, I’m sorry, 2 of the 4 Wizards in that one…

Aaron
Yeah, so myself and Ryan Bailey both got on the podium.

Samuel
Must have made the old Gandalf Jamie proud.

Aaron
Well, the thing is he was working for Triathlon Canada and Australians were sprinting for 3rd and 4th with Canada which also had some Wizards in the team and the 4th athlete for Canada was Northern Ireland athlete that Jamie individually coaches but he was coming up against Ryan in Australia, an Australian athlete that he does individual, Jamie does individual coach but obviously his alliance or his employment for Triathlon Canada meant now he had to be working for them. And so I’m sure it’s probably motivating for Ryan to hear Jamie barking orders to Andrew York who was the Canadian athlete who was fighting for 4th who is actually the athlete, like I said, the athlete coached by Jamie individually but as Jamie working for Triathlon Canada, he had to, they’re screaming for Andrew York was finished but I think it sort of motivated Ryan a little bit for that as well.

Samuel
Yeah. If you haven’t caught that, Jamie’s had a bit of an interesting journey for the Wizards, originally it was Australian Developmental Squad and then it’s turned in to this international conglomerate here. How is that changed / affected the makeup of the Wizards and the whole dynamic here because it’s gotten quite a nice international flavor now?

Aaron
Yeah, it has. So you mean how does having…

Samuel
Yeah, Jamie, so talk a little bit about Jamie took the high performance or what job did he take for Triathlon Canada?

Aaron
Yeah, yeah, high performance coach of Triathlon Canada, I think he took that 2 years ago but at the time, he obviously had some individual athletes he was coaching from Australia and a few others with Gwen and the like. And, I mean, I don’t know exactly how it went down with him going to Canada but I just know that when he left to work with Canada, he was allowed to continue coaching the athletes that he has at the current time. And Kudos to Triathlon Canada because I think they saw it as a great opportunity to immerse their athletes in to a daily training high performance squad and myself and Ryan, Bryan Sexton, an Olympian, Gwen (…) obviously, fantastic athlete. And brought in, and Triathlon Canada allowed Jamie to remain coaching us but then bringing Canadian athletes to be within the squad as well in time. We also learned off from each other…

Samuel
And then also let Gwen and (…), other people who’ve already been in the Australian…

Aaron
Yeah, yeah, obviously for the girls especially getting to train with Gwen who’s, I think 13 WTS wins at the moment probably gonna make it…

Samuel
10 straight, 13 right now as we speak.

Aaron
Incredible, incredible record. The girls to get to see that and training with her day in day out and sometimes beta, not many chances you get to train with the best athlete, when I say beta, in training I mean, so they get to see that and get confidence from that as well and obviously keeps Gwen on her toes as well having those athletes around her. I think it’s just a good mix of nationalities, personalities, abilities and the right leadership with Jamie that’s been able to create some success with been having as a group and individually.

Samuel
Yeah, to keep everyone happy and keep all the interest apart is from Australian and Canada happy is quite a feat and I think fantastic testament to the, Jamie’s been able to do as a leader of the squad. So what do you think the squad has done for you as, let’s divide this one in to 2 parts, first of all as an athlete, what is the squad done for you as an athlete compared to where you think you would be without the squad?

Aaron
Yeah, it’s a good question. I mean, as an athlete, just day in day out, it’s just relentless training that no one lays any stone unturned and because of that, we’re all doing it within the squad environment so it’s infectious like I was saying early on in the interview that when you’re being lazy and you see your teammates being lazy, that’s infectious whereas now, there’s such a great work ethic within the squad that we’re able to bounce off each other and have that positivity and great work ethic to get the best out of each other. And people have said that have come in and joined the squad just for a little to test out the dynamics in the training of the squad and even now the athletes, the Canadian athletes that came in first of all said it’s like lining up for WTS or World Triathlon Series race everyday just trying to obviously get the best out of yourself. And so I think that’s the main thing, just having the work ethic to be out to each day push yourself the way you need to push yourself to get the best out of yourself.

Samuel
So here’s the inevitable question, does this not lead to overtraining or people putting in too big an effort when they should be taking it easy and how do you guys control for that? Coz quality work versus Bobby McGee used to say, when I was talking he said, 90% of your running is the easy work and then you got the quality sessions.

Aaron
Well yeah, I mean, you obviously got to be smart and that’s sort of way Jamie, that’s where Jamie steps in. He gives a lot of ownership to the athlete to take control of the program, not so much the program, sorry, the program comes from Jamie but the way you do it and how you achieve it sometimes is the ownership is on you from Jamie. And it’s definitely hard to know that fine line and we’re all trying to find that fine line between overtraining or getting injured and not overstepping it. And the way the sport is right now, especially in the ITU, I guess ruthless it is to try and be good and what you need to do to try and be good, everyone’s pushing that line and trying to find their boundaries and sometimes you go over the edge like I’m sitting here right now with a bit of the dodgy foot at the moment but fingers touch wood, it’s getting better. Well, you questioned how do you know, I guess you know when you gone too far.

Samuel
One thing is Jamie being there to watch you guys and that’s why if you’re a triathlete and this is one of the things I think this sport really need is more local coaching and one of the things that we’re actually trying to do in the future is to create weekend clinics where triathletes can, our vision for this is train coaches all over the country and actually the world so that if you can drive to a weekend clinic, you can meet a coach. But I’m just such a big believer that it’s like a trainer looking at the racehorse and he knows when that racehorse needs that hard run and he knows when to tell you guys, hey, not today, you’re not gonna do that today and he goes out on to scooter and motor paces for you guys and sees you on the bike and he sees you every day in the pool and he can obviously see on the hard run day so he can tell who’s overdoing it and who’s being lazy and needs to kick it up a notch.

Aaron
Yeah. I think definitely he can see when people are sort of reaching that edge, sorry, reaching that fine line of going over the edge. I don’t think, many times, I think that’s one thing that he says that he enjoys about coaching his squad is that he doesn’t really need to get people kick up a butt, sort already, most of the time, it will be him trying to pull you back saying, hey, we need to rest here, we need to be smart about our approach in the training now, he’s never really kick up the butt. I don’t think many coaches in elite sport really have to do that anymore especially in the triathlon where people were so self-motivated.

Samuel
Yeah. You still need the right dynamic coz as you said 4 years ago, the squad had the opposite problem.

Aaron
Yeah, I mean, yeah, and back then, it definitely did. And I guess sometimes you need to break every now and again of course but most of the time, in our squad at least, it’s pretty self, it comes within our self because nothing is coming from someone else, generally does coming from someone else. Keep someone imposing they drop their point on you doesn’t generally work. I think discipline is doing what you think you should 100% of the time. Doing what you think is the best thing to do 100% of the time as opposed to having someone impose it upon you sort of making sure you can do it yourself rather than Jamie have to impose that upon you.

Samuel
Yes. It’s one of the things when we were, I noticed my time in the army was just watching how do you instill or build or teach self-discipline and lot of times, it was, I think you can work on that and I think Jamie’s definitely talking you guys the art of that and then he just gets impose a little bit of rumble strips on the highway see when you gone too far…

Aaron
And that’s what it is, making sure you don’t go off too far, keeping you within where you need to be. It’s also finding your feet and finding your own way as well, taking ownership a little bit.

Samuel
So Aaron you’re 25 and you have quite a bit of triathlon ahead of you, I mean, the iron man don’t hang it up ‘til they’re 40 and you’ve got, you still run with the ITU, just fresh end to the ITU circuit. Looking back, if I were to tell you when you quit school at 17 that you’d be where you’re sitting today having raced in the Commonwealth Games and represented your country and bronze medal there and World Champion under 23 and now in contention, I think you’re going to the Rio Testament so you’re in contention for starting 2016 Olympics will obviously you’d have to qualify under that. And making a bit of money to do it, we’re talking before you’re not making box or money or anything but you’re making a good low income for your age definitely in Australia with some sponsors and other stuff and I think plenty more in the future here. What would you say if you’re 17 and you could see yourself now, what would you say?

Aaron
Wow. Well, I mean, look, if I’m looking back at me now or if I were 17, I would definitely be proud of what I’ve achieved which I definitely am. But I do know now, I guess me looking now, I guess that’s not really answering what you’re saying if I was 17 but me looking now still know I got a lot more to give, I don’t think I’ve reached, in ITU, definitely I don’t think I’ve reached the pinnacle or what my body can give yet, I think there’s still a long way to go. But if I was to hang it up, I’m sorry, you don’t need to hang it up now but like you said, if I was 17 to look what I have achieved in 25, yeah, I’d be pretty proud of that. I’ve had under 23 World Champion like you said, Commonwealth Games bronze medal, WTS podium and 2 (…) titles, they’re probably the highlights of my career and some people go through their whole career with no achieving that. And yah, I’d be pretty praised and proud of it but I’d also be, knowing that there’s still more to give, there’s still more there. I’m 25, I’ve probably got a good 5 more years in me in ITU and then push on and see what I can do in long course and long drafting circuit.

Samuel
So you’ve got, let’s turn that around a little bit. Someone who’s sitting here listening to this podcast and there’s plenty actually next week, it’s gonna be 14, 16 and 18 year old training with the Wizards, the training week, what would you tell someone who is 17 – 18 and wants to do what you’re doing, what advice would you give?

Aaron
I mean, it’s obviously when you get outside question, I guess it sounds, it always does sound a little bit cliché but obviously you need to really enjoy what you’re doing because if you’re not enjoying it then you’re not gonna get through the tough times and you’re gonna have some tough times sometimes where, like I said before, you question what you’re doing, you question whether you’re gonna be good enough, question why you should be doing something else so you obviously got to enjoy it. Have the right people around you, people that you trust in terms of coach I mean by that and…

Samuel
Find the right coach.

Aaron
Find the right coach…

Samuel
Find a squad.

Aaron
Find the right coach and squad and those people that around you and you need to trust them because all to us, I see so age group athletes and young kids having coaches yet they don’t listen to what the coach is telling them to do, they’re out there doing their own program or they think they know better or they listen to what their parents are saying…

Samuel
The coach says slower run and they go…

Aaron
Yeah, they go cross down and it’s never gonna work if you’re not trusting what you’re doing and you’ve got to believe in what they’re telling you. So find the right people to be around, that is the coach and the squad, and just trust that they’re gonna put you in the right path. And if you don’t trust them, you find someone that you do, different coaches and different people and different squads work better for other people and not one fits all.

Samuel
You’ve been lucky, you’ve been really lucky finding that coach early and sticking with him or him sticking with you and the Wizards…

Aaron
We’ve been through some ups and downs as well, yeah, so I’m sure he thought about getting rid of me at the same time he got rid of somebody other people but lucky I sort of made the cut I guess.

Samuel
It’s the nickname like Bugs…

Aaron
He said yeah, be a bit hard to cut the Bugs…

Samuel
Yeah, exactly. And finally just thinking through what’s coming next for you, you’ve got a lot in the sport and this is something I like to ask about pros because I know when I got in triathlon, it was a huge stress relief for me the time of my life when I was probably de-stressing from some things in the army and other things and the old saying is: every runners running for something. So why is triathlon, I don’t say that in a bad way, but you have to be a little bit different, extraordinary let’s call it, to pursue this and why do you think you’re so passionate about triathlon and what your big reason for doing this? I mean, do you see this as a way to change something in your own life or other lives or how do you see the sport as like what’s the big reason why you’re doing it or you just love it?

Aaron
No, no, yeah, I mean, listen, obviously some standard reasons that I guess that I’m quite naturally good at what I do and, sorry, have natural talent at what I do and sort of been doing it for such a long time that I don’t, it’s just instilled in me now, it’s just, I don’t think about it as, it’s just something that I do but, how can I put it? It’s really hard to explain the feeling that I’m trying to explain right now but when I’m still on the podium for the WTS podium in 2014, my first one in Oakland, standing on the podium with (…) Gomez and Jonathan Bradley, that sort of feeling and that sort of emotion that I had after doing that is a reason that I do. And like I said, there’s really, really hard to explain but I wish I could just bottle that up and just pat that all the time because that would be great. And that’s what gets you through the tough times looking back at those times that I had and right now, like I said, I got a bit of a dodgy foot and I’ve got 7 weeks to try and qualify for the Olympics in the Rio Testament and thinking about those times that I had those times that I’ve had or I’m still at the podium and that sort of what’s getting me through now and keeping me motivated to come back and get better and that sort of… I do it for the times when, like I said, when you’re standing on the podium and then all of a sudden, you’re in your own room after the race reflecting on it and you’re just lying down thinking about the race and that feeling that you have is sort of chasing that sort of feeling every time I came.

Samuel
I think one of the things that makes triathlon so special is, I don’t care if you’re WTUF, later in age group athlete and you win your local race, it’s one of the few areas in your life unless you own your own business and completely independent in all areas of your life, lot of people are doing it. I know when I was doing triathlon, I was in the world’s biggest bureaucracy in United States army, sometimes you just feel like you had no control over anything. And I just, I think to have control and be able to self-actualize and express yourself as a person and when you get on that podium, that’s where the results of hard work and getting through injuries, I think it just makes you more alive and that’s why you’re buzzing on this sport of so long is you’re the best version of yourself versus if you might have gone on to that electrician job or something at 17 and always wondered what would happen.

Aaron
It’s funny that buzz feeling that you just spoken about, it only last for, I don’t know, 24 – 48, a week maybe and then all of a sudden it goes and it’s enough though to keep you hungry and motivated. It’s been, since I’ve had that feeling, it’s probably been 18 months now but it’s still keeping me motivated, trying to chase that feeling again.

Samuel
Yeah. And that’s where just thinking back on my times in the army, a lot of people wondered why we did it and I think as much as putting yourself at risk or all the things to play there, really there’s nothing like putting yourself out there in high adrenaline situation and that’s why I was drawn to triathlon after I left the high adventure part of the army was I missed the adrenaline and I like to, I joke sometimes I was an adrenaline junkie that’s why I like hanging out with triathletes now and my core position is getting interview all these pros is seeing a younger version of where I was at that point and knowing what that’s about. And I think so the (…) is so few people get that in modern life, the physical connection of just being utterly exhausted and then the high of performing your maximum potential. That’s why, and again, if you’re listening to this, you’re a triathlete, you get that, you can do this at any age group, you don’t have to be Aaron Royle doing a World Championship race, you could do this at your local race, win your age group and go to nationals, there’s so many different ladders you can climb up.

Aaron
And for some people, it’s just finishing the triathlon, competing in my first triathlon, that’s the beauty of our sport I guess. For some people, like you’re saying, it’s such a range of different things that you can get out of triathlon and everyone’s fairground (…) whether it is that you’re late person going for a gold medal at the Olympics or the person that just entered their first time and they just wanted to go to complete it, they can get that same sort of feeling of satisfaction of that person who got the gold medal was going for as well.

Samuel
And Aaron, I think you just put it so well and I can’t wait to release this to our audience and hopefully this inspires some people to go for that buzz where you live life to the max coz I don’t think many of us do that as much as we should. I know that I certainly miss my triathlon days coz I’m so immersed in the business now and all of things that I’m doing but I get other highs when I’m on my own business which is great but…

Aaron
We’re coming out for a run at 7:30 in the morning if you wanna relive that again?

Samuel
I’ve got a dodgy foot, I got a dodgy foot just like you but I’ll be back when I’m feeling better definitely. But finally, the last question before we wrap this up for the triathletes, believe it or not, there are people who value and/or inspired by your example and that’s only gonna grow, I can see it as your career grows, what do you wanna give to the sport, to your fans in general, I mean, where do you wanna see triathlon go coz it is still a young sport, 40 years old, what do you think this sport needs to do that hasn’t done and you hope to help it do?

Aaron
Tough question to finish on.

Samuel
Yeah, we don’t let anyone off the hook…

Aaron
Look, I think the sport’s in a good place right now and I think it’s, guys like me that have coming through and trying to continue the great start that people in front of us have put on like the Mark Allen, Dave Scott, Greg (…), the Australians Marv, Stewart and someone like me, one of my heroes, Peter Robinson have done before us that really started, I guess pioneers of the sport and started the process of putting triathlon on the map. We’re not yet quite at the mainstream level of sports and we’re still a long way to go from there but it’s definitely starting to appeal to more people and I guess if I continue to try and do that in my generation then that sort of how I wanna give to the sport as well, continue on the same sort of legacy that people that started the sport who’ve put us in that direction and trying keep that going.

Samuel
Yeah. There’s so many more people who can join this movement, it’s such a small sport compared to where it could be. You look at road running in the 70s versus what happened to that…

Aaron
But I think we’re getting there. I think we’re getting there, I think it’s starting to appeal to a lot more professional athletes and age group athletes like we’re saying before, for many, it’s just an accomplishment to achieve, to do and I think we’re heading in the right direction.

Samuel
One of the guys here at this camp, this will be his first triathlon coming up after this…

Aaron
Aaron: Yeah, in the weekend, yeah.

Samuel
… and that’s pretty amazing to see they’re just jumping in to be first like forget about it, just go training with pros…

Aaron
Aaron: For lake and then go do it, yeah, kudos to them.

Samuel
Well thanks a lot and I know that your rough schedules is kicking in here in Spain and I appreciate you giving back to the community, I know that they’re definitely gonna enjoy this and insight and someone would be inspired to do some extra things based on what you gave. And again, for you and the Wizards, we’re really looking to seeing how this week, this year goes qualifying for Olympics, knock on wood, and see what happens after that so…

And then finally, Triathlon Research listener, thank you for joining us for another episode, this definitely should get you something to think about as you’re out there in your long rides and long runs if you’re running or riding right now, hope you’re enjoying this and not breaking any walls doing it. And we’ll see you next time, we’re gonna have plenty more interviews here with the Wizards and meet the rest of the squad and really looking forward to introducing you to this elite fun group of cool accents, unless you’re from down under and then it’s normal. Thanks and we’ll see you again.

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