Attempting my first Ironman distance at 59 years old and in the Kona World Championship was intimidating. Coach Oliver Kiel’s opening admonition, “you must respect the distance, but there is no need to fear it” was the mantra I repeated on every training swim, ride and run. Less than five months later, I experienced the race of a lifetime, finishing Kona’s 140.6 miles in just over 15 hours.
Despite big sea swells, gnarly winds gusting over 40 mph, and Kona’s famous heat, my time was within minutes of Oliver’s prediction – an example of his extraordinary insight into students’ improving capabilities. Oliver’s training schedules brought me along each week from a ‘swim, bike and barely survive’ level of half-Ironman fitness, to confidently attacking all three disciplines in the biggest event on the annual IM calendar. A few months later I am hard at to work with Oliver to improve my times in this season’s 70.3 races.
Communication with Oliver is easy and efficient. He solicits and deciphers every report of minor soreness or occasional tiredness and prepares weekly training plans that build on strengths while stealthily addressing areas for improvement. Month after month of personal bests at short and long distances continue to come my way, in all three disciplines. Crucial to success is Oliver’s attention to health and injury prevention, allowing me to log nearly 5000 miles in his stable without pain or injury of any kind.
Coaching is clearly Oliver’s passion, and no one gets more pleasure from his students’ progress. To his great credit however, Oliver understands that family and health are top priorities and the training schedules he proposes never put either at risk.