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Lionel Sanders parts ways with coach David Tilbury Davis

Race week video outlines a return to his "old school basics" approach to training and racing

Photo by: Kevin Mackinnon

In the first of his “race week” videos leading up to this weekend’s Ironman Copenhagen, Canada’s Lionel Sanders appears to be describing a new approach to training and racing that implies he will follow his own instincts and approach. We’ve since confirmed that Sanders and coach David Tilbury-Davis have once again split, which explains some of what we heard in Sanders’ latest video.

Sanders had first started working with Tilbuy Davis in 2017 and, initially, it seemed that the match would work out well – that year Sanders had his best day in Kona, a runner-up finish to Germany’s Patrick Lange. A few weeks after that race, though, they parted ways. Two years after that Sanders announced in another YouTube video that he was once again working with the British coach.

Related: Keeping Lionel on track – Q and A with David Tilbury-Davis

The video begins with Sanders joking that he’s been messaging with his “coach” Cameron Wurf before going into an explanation of the tough training block he’s just finishing up before he races at Ironman Copenhagen this weekend.

“I am going to do a long ride and a run off the bike today,” Sanders says. “Tomorrow morning, long run. It’s a pretty loaded week of training, It’s day six in the block – I did two bike workouts, two run workouts, five quality swims. It’s already pretty loaded. The big one is we’re going to train inside this time – its going to be the temperatures of the race and we’re going to do something very close to the nutrition strategies we’re going to do in the race in Copenhagen, and hopefully we’ll feel like a million bucks and run the second half of the run really well.”

Later we see Sanders head to a pool workout where he spends a lot of time working on his technique – after seeing video of himself in the water next to Jan Frodeno at the Triathlon Battle Royale it is “time to bring back some technical stuff in the water,” he says.

Lionel Sanders on the bike at the Tri Battle Royale. Photo: tri-battle.com

Once all the training is done, Sanders answers some questions from videographer Talbot Cox while sitting in a hot tub.

“I feel like I went through a period of fearfulness,” Sanders says. “Fearful of overtraining myself. Well, when I was ‘overtraining’ myself is when I had my best races, so something is to be said for that.”

Sanders says the goal with his race in Copenhagen is to “do well … I want to be competing for real, not blowing up the moment I see the front of the race.”

He then outlines a very ambitious and tough race schedule – after Ironman Copenhagen he’ll head to Samorin, Slovakia for the Collins Cup (where he says he’s likely best to take on Sebastian Kienle rather than Jan Frodeno), then return to Arizona for another block of hard training before gearing up for the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in St. George, then repeat that process again before heading to the Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. If he doesn’t qualify for Kona in Copenhagen, he’ll head to Ironman Sacramento.

“[I want to] get back to old school basics, which is swim to the best of your ability, absolutely destroy the bike and destroy the run off an insanely hard bike,” Sanders says. “That’s how I’ll finish the rest of my career, none of the soft crap I’ve been doing recently. There is an aspect of listening to external voices and not listening to yourself and what you know is possible and I have certainly fallen victim to fearfulness … of overtraining, of racing too much and of going to hard and what’s going to happen. I love racing I love pushing myself to the limit and that’s what I am going to do.”