Brett Sutton Interview: Pt 3
by: Jay Prasuhn
Slowtwitch: Brett, we’ve had a very strong response to your articles and wanted to clarify some of the interpretations for the readers with a third and final installment.
Sutton: I was asked to help shed some light on some fantastic issues happening in the sport at the moment and give readers an experts eye on the developments, and of course what
we do differently in preparing a team of top-class athletes all at the forefront of the sport.
There’s a standing joke throughout out my group, it dates back to prehistoric times. It’s my strangling of the English language—it has a name among us—they call it Suttolish—so I will clarify some of the stuff that was maybe seen out of context.
But after reading your e-mail on the posts, it would seem very clear to me that again many readers can’t see the forest for the trees, others want to turn it into a tech debate of what I know and don’t. What I do know is—and it’s seen as arrogant by some, but it’s just standard truth to me—that I have the confidence that I know what I am doing, that I know about real performance and how to achieve it. My results prove it.
For those that are serious and trying to honestly plot their way through the mountain of bullshit out there I will do the last installment for you. So long as I get to print a rebuttal
for my very wounded warrior. Not Belinda Granger, but Justin.
Slowtwitch: I reckon that can be arranged. Let’s first address the tech questions.
Sutton: No, the first thing, is, like in coaching, you put things in perspective for the individual you are dealing with: me and the readers. A first distortion or assumption that is wrong then leads others to misinterpretations, that I’m looking for shock value or something.
The reason I have such a strong bond with the group is because they know I don’t say anything I don’t mean. And sometimes when I want to say some thing, I don’t. Because a wise old coach once told me, the difference between the good coach and the great ones is good ones want to tell you how much knowledge they have, but the great ones know what to say, but know when not to say it. That has served me well.
With no disrespect, I have zero reasons to want to do any impressing, here or any forum. I work for the respect of who walks thru my training door. And my biggest weapon is that they know I tell them the truth.
The second is to be a great coach, you have an opinion. That’s what they come to you for; they’re looking for someone with more expertise than they already have. They don’t want to hear “well, maybe this will work for you,” or “it could be this or could be that that’s causing the problem.” They want clear answers. They want a leader when they are under extreme pressure.
That pressure comes in not just races, but with injuries, down times, dealing with their own personality, of who they are. And they want a rock, someone that can and does make decisions.
I’ve had success for a long time now. I was not out to say “look at me.” The difference here was I went into a new sport (Ironman-ed), with athletes of differing levels, and turned it on its head. People want to know why and how.
Those that listen I tell there is no secrets, and average Joes can make good gains too with out going full-time or getting a divorce.
Now, regarding tech, it’s a crutch. And the first thing I do with my athletes is kick the crutches out. I already said that if there is a piece of technology out there that I think will improve Chrissie one second, I will use it. It’s there, somewhere. But, nobody picks up on that, because I didn’t put it out of context.
But really, it’s a small part of the performance debate, a very minor part. Rebecca Preston won her first three Ironman races on training wheels. Chrissie won her first one on them. Sorry, people, but that’s the truth. Some people pick up on that inference, and I am happy for that.
Slowtwitch: You can’t be that indifferent about the technology. To wit, you have the team on Cervelos. I understand they reside at the top of a short list of bikes you’d even consider to sponsor the team, and that if you had them on the top of the list of three bikes you’d ever consider, and heard that if you couldn’t get one of the three, you’d simply not have a bike sponsor?
Sutton: I take every advantage I can get. I do measure things, but if it’s something that can improve you two minutes, but the down side is that it costs you 10 minutes, I say don’t go there.
That said, we have the number one bike available off the rack. And are glad we do. Cervelo is a step ahead, full stop. And while the P2 has served Chrissie, she will move to the P3 Carbon after this season. She’ll have more skill by then. The fastest tool is at our disposal, and she’s ready for it.
Slowtwitch: What are the other two brands you’d consider?
Sutton: Well, I’ll tell you number two, as he has helped an number of my old athletes—and I always appreciated that—and of course love his design in the sport. And that’s Felt.
Slowtwitch: So what about the rest of equipment? I spoke with some helmet manufacturers about your thoughts of whether an aero helmet could provide as much cooling as a vented one—whether it’s even possible.
Sutton: Yeah, I said already that it’s a nice piece of equipment but there’s just no ventilation—yet. Bella wears one that is getting there, from her sunglass people, Rudy Project. Overall, though the head just doesn’t lose the heat it needs to.
Slowtwitch: Can you elaborate on your resistance to your female athletes using disc wheels?
Sutton: Easy. Girls can’t get the bike over 40 kilometers an hour over 180 kilometers. The negative to them is it takes a lot of power to keep discs going. Discs aren’t allowed in Hawaii, so why don’t we ride with them outside of Hawaii? We train as we race.
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