This triathlon group consists of members from more than 70 different nationalities, including some triathletes from countries as far away as Russia, Brazil and Turkey.
Meet the Tri-Edge triathlon team, co-founded in 2008 by two Kiwis, Michael Lyons, 58 and Scott Larson, 34. Both of them are Level 2 certified coaches with Triathlon New Zealand.
Explained Lyons, “We are an inclusive club with members from all walks of life. We’re glad that it had worked out this way; it’s generally easy for us to attract people from Australia and New Zealand, but we find it quite interesting that people from sub-continents such as even India and Sri Lanka came to join us. They did not grow up riding bikes and swimming, so they had to be taken on a journey of learning the basics.”
Tri-Edge aims to create a leading edge
The name Tri-Edge had originally come about, with “Tri” reflecting the three sports in triathlon and “Edge” meaning to create a leading edge.
Added Lyons, “And that name is being blown out factually by people’s results over time. Over the course of our existence, we have had more than 100 podiums, including at the Triathlon National Championships in Singapore and Thailand. We also had six qualifying for the Ironman World Championships in Kona last year. I think these are significant, but then again we don’t measure our success by podium placings. Quite frankly, personal bests and improvements count more.”
Lyons continued, “We have also had success with weight loss; two members have lost 28kg and 25kg recently after training with us.”
Has 100 members today
Today Tri-Edge has about 100 members in all, and one third of their triathletes are less than nine months into the sport of triathlon. Another one third have more than two years’ experience with triathlon.
Added Lyons, “We have one professional athlete who trains with us, but the profiles of most of the people are business executives, public servants or even firemen. They are really busy at their jobs and most of them are married with kids. So they have to optimise what they are doing all the time.”
She joined Tri-Edge to resume her training regime after pregnancy
One of Tri-Edge’s members is Hazel Han, a 34 year old civil servant who wanted join a club, with the intention of resuming her exercise regime after her pregnancy. Explained Hazel, “I joined Tri-Edge in October 2016. I had given birth to a baby girl in January that year and was looking for a triathlon group in particular, working on my bike discipline, to kickstart my training again.”
She added, “I love triathlon because it involves both physical and mental preparation, especially when a race is coming up, similar to preparing for an outdoor expedition which I used to do, before picking up triathlon. I also love the process and technicality of being involved across all four disciplines, the fourth one being nutrition.”
And nutrition wise, Tri-Edge strongly believes in a ketogenic or fat optimised diet. Said Lyons, “Eating less carbs and high fats, moving our athletes towards a state of ketosis, is a good approach. I think there is more research and understanding now of what our primary body fuel is – that is fat, and how to optimise fat burning by training on an empty stomach.”
Besides eating healthy, to Han, training with a group has also given her some added motivation to work out. She said, “It’s hard going for a swim or doing a long ride on your own, especially when you are training for a personal best. When I am out with the team, it becomes less painful when you have someone working hard along with you.”
Wanted to see improvements
Another Tri-Edge member, Doug Irvine, 43, a Maintenance Operations Controller for Boeing Singapore Pte Ltd, had wanted to see improvements, and that led to him looking for triathlon coaching. He soon came across Tri-Edge.
Said Irvine, “I had realised that having started out training on my own in triathlon, competing in my first event in May 2015, that if I wanted to improve and progress within the sport, I would need help and coaching to find those improvements.”
Nine to 14 training sessions per week
For their members, Tri-Edge organises between nine to 14 training sessions per week. These include three running sessions, four swimming sessions and four biking sessions. And even though Tri-Edge had initially started out focusing their training in the East Coast area, they now train all over Singapore. Training sessions typically takes place in the mornings before work and evenings after work, and on weekends.
Their bike rides vary from doing hill loops at Mount Faber – which are targeted towards training strength, to long slow rides on Sundays, tempo rides on Tuesdays and turbo training sessions on Friday mornings.
Said Lyons, “The turbo training sessions give us some triathlon specific sets; this is designed to stimulate the energy systems that as triathletes, we need to improve.”
For their long rides, Lyons also pointed out that large groups are split into different target riding speeds. He said, “Some of our elites will be on a recovery week so they will go on a slower ride that day, and in doing so, the folks who may not be so fit can get what they need in terms of an appropriate heart rate and intensity zone to allow themselves to improve.”
For inexperienced riders, they will also be singled out separately rather than having to struggle to ride with the group, if they are inexperienced or lack fitness. As Han had recounted during her very first ride with Tri-Edge, she and another female rider were led out separately as they had never ridden with the guys before.
Explained Han, “And since it was my first ride out in a long time, it wasn’t surprising that I had no clue of my fitness level and bonked towards the end of the 60km ride, halfway along the Changi Coastal Road. In my head, my mind was set on getting my husband to pick me up at NSRCC (national service resort and country club) instead of the original plan of me riding home on my own. But Tri-Edge’s Coach Michael, who had been leading me, had a separate agenda. He led me to a small kiosk along East Coast Park, got me two cans of ice coffee and told me he doesn’t want me to DNF (did not finish). That was when I knew I found someone who will be ready to take on all aspects of a coach to train an individual in the sport.”
During swim sessions at Tri-Edge, members are also split up into a steady or fast lane, depending on their swimming speed. Also, those who need their swimming stroke corrected, would be separated from the group to focus on that instead, rather than just training volume.
Running sessions, which sometimes take place at MacRitchie Reservoir, are also split into different speeds depending on fitness levels and abilities of members present.
Said Lyons, “So there is something for everyone there. People can get stimulation based on their fitness level and what stage of the training cycle they are at. It makes perfect sense.”
And to Irvine, attending these fixed training sessions have benefitted him greatly in terms of his own triathlon aspirations – of wanting to complete a full Ironman in the next two years – by the time he is 45 years old.
Irvine said, “Being part of the team and developing through the programme has really helped towards attaining great results and given me the confidence to strive towards even greater goals.”
Some of his triathlon achievements to date, include a third-place finish in his age group (40-45) at his first Olympic distance triathlon last year, and a top 10 age group finish at the Singapore Duathlon last November.
Irvine continued, “I enjoy having a focused training programme that although set, it is not so set in stone that if you miss a session then it is the end of the world. I enjoy the support and encouragement that we provide and receive from each other when racing. I also like the group training when I can get to it, as it’s a good way of seeing how you are progressing with the other members of the team and also a great way of having fun whilst training.”
They have a sense of humour too
But at Tri-Edge, training is not strictly serious business though. Said Lyons, “We have a hall of humour on our website and we do try and ingest a sense of humour about our training sessions in a good-natured way, that makes training a fun thing to do.”
For example, at their Tuesday sessions, members can contribute songs via Spotify that they want to hear, and through the evening, a range of diverse music can be heard, ranging from indie hop to Canto and classic rock.
Lyons also added that during different festivals, training gear can take on colour themes, to add some festive mood to the sessions. He said, “People turn up in red during Chinese New Year and during Hari Raya, they will wear green.”
And to accommodate fasting month, as Tri-Edge has at least 10 Muslim members in their team, they developed a fasting month training and nutrition strategy. Explained Lyons, “We move them to a skills based training, particularly around technical parts of e.g. swimming, so that they can really invest in their sport without a high cost on their body and that strategy has gone down quite well. We also encourage them to think about moving towards being ketogenic during that time too.”
Lyons added, “But our fasting month training sessions are inclusive to everyone; others who want to join in can do so too. Our swims start after sunset so it allows Muslim members to break their fast and rehydrate before the swim set begins.”
Recognises the benefits of rest
At the same time, Lyons recognises the benefits of rest for his members too, apart from simply training and more training. He said, ”In South East Asia, one of the challenges is that there is no winter, so after our last race of the year, which is in Phuket, we enforce a month of stand-down for the team because it is very unhealthy for them if they don’t recover properly.”
Added Lyons, “After all, consistency over time counts in training. A progressive, low intensity training phase, with sufficient recovery, is an important part of it, and that also forms the building blocks of the strength endurance training, which makes up about 82 per cent of our training cycle. Another 13 per cent of training is of a tempo, aerobic capacity and the final 5 per cent is threshold pace.”
For more information and membership fees
Annual memberships at Tri-Edge cost $2,000. Those who want a shorter membership plan can sign up for six months at $1,200 in total.
Find out more about Tri-Edge Team at http://www.triedgeteam.com.
Photos are all courtesy of Michael Lyons / Tri-Edge Team.