Standing on the Shoulders of Giants: Siri Lindley and Dave Scott

If you believe what you read on the interweb, one of my all time fav quotes was brought to us by Sir Isaac Newton ~

If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.

I have had the opportunity to ‘stand on the shoulders’ of 2 giants of the triathlon world.

I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to hear 2 of the greatest triathletes of all time — and now 2 of best coaches in the sport — Siri Lindley and Dave Scott, speak.

We’re lucky in this day and age to have the opportunity to interact with and learn from the most successful people in any profession on a nearly daily basis thanks to the inter web.

But it’s another thing to hear them speak in person and draw further insights from their experience.

Sensational Siri Lindley

I confess; I have a girl-crush on Siri :)

I loved her tenacity as an athlete and, as a coach, I really admire the way she works with her clients in Team Sirius especially around their mindset and belief.

I had the opportunity to hear Siri speak — and ultimately meet her — at the Witsup (Women in Triathlon) Kona Breakfast days ahead of the Hawaii Ironman World Championships in 2015 on a superstar packed panel including Emma Snowsill, Julie Dibens and Belinda Granger.

Some of my key takeaways from Siri were ~

We’ve all got self-limiting beliefs. You need to work out what they are and then work out how to overcome them.
Everyone is different and everyone needs a different approach. (As a coach) you need to talk to each athlete as their brain works best and talk in a way that will bring out the best in them. The one approach doesn’t work for everyone.
[As a coach] work out what they are most afraid of and then put them in positions that challenge that fear everyday. Overcoming it each and every time builds their confidence.

Although she was specifically speaking in her capacity as a coach, her advice is equally applicable to the everyday age grouper in two respects.

Firstly, when choosing a triathlon coach or squad. If the coach uses the same program or adopts the same language and approach for all of the squad, move on and find another one.

And secondly, we all need to address our self-limiting beliefs. What are yours?

What are the stories you tell yourself?

How do those stories hold you back?

And how can you put yourself in situations so you can challenge and ultimately overcome them?

Maybe you’re telling yourself you’re mentally weak and that you always back off and can’t push yourself when times get tough. Tell yourself that story and guess what? You will.

So find ways to put yourself in situations that are just outside your comfort zone but challenging enough to overcome them, and then re-write the story you’ve been telling yourself.

Other key takeaways for me from Siri included ~

Gratitude creates positive energy. It helps you persevere and push through the hard times.
Your biggest goal on race day is to execute your race plan. The best race you can have is one where you execute your plan perfectly. The biggest mistake you can make is to react to what’s happening around you.
Stop comparing yourself to others. You need to find what works for you and focus only on that.

(Great words to live by both inside and outside the sport!)

Great (Dave) Scott!

Winner of 6 Hawaii Ironman titles amongst many many other races (far too many to mention here!), Dave actually came to my home town ahead of the inaugural Western Sydney 70.3 race in November in 2014 and spoke at a Legends of Ironman dinner held on the Friday night before the event.

Loved watching the old footage as Dave Scott told of his racing at Kona

His key points included ~

The most important question you can ask yourself after any race is — what did I do well?

This sport — and any endurance sport for that matter — tends to attract a certain type of person.

I’m sure you know someone like this — if you aren’t one yourself 😉

A little bit obsessive/obsessed with their sport. Rarely satisfied. Always looking at what’s next and rarely taking the time to appreciate their achievements.

We push ourselves hard and often look at success and failure as an either/or. If it’s not a 100% success in terms of our goal outcome from the race, then it’s a failure.

Dave told the story of getting on the phone to Chrissie Wellington after she broke the Ironman World Record for the first time. She called him and the first words out of her mouth were “I didn’t ride as fast as I would have liked”.

In asking yourself “what did I do well?”, you often realise you were actually successful lots of small components of the race — perhaps you nailed your race nutrition or stuck to your plan for the entire bike leg — allowing you to walk away satisfied even if you were initially disappointed at the result.

Moments after he said this, I received an SMS from a former client also in the crowd….


Yes, it’s a question I often ask my clients.

His greatest race is never mentioned — aka you can still be successful when you aren’t perfect.

Dave tells the story that his “greatest race” (his words, not mine) is one that’s never mentioned when his racing history at Kona is told.

And that the races he didn’t win have greater value to him as a person than those he won (and that’s coming from a man who won the Hawaii Ironman 6 times!).

It’s 1996. At the ‘tender’ age of 42, Dave Scott finished the Hawaii Ironman in 5th place and yet he still regards it to this day as his greatest race.


Because of the way he handled the race mentally as it unfolded.

He had a swim that was slow by his standards — but it didn’t consider it a ‘failure’ because in his mind, it gave him an opportunity to ride fast for 180km.

But on the bike leg, his legs were heavy and he didn’t have a great bike leg either. In hindsight, he said he went in with too much bike training. But he didn’t consider it a failure because in his mind, it gave him an opportunity to run fast for 42km.

He got off the bike in 26th place. Some would have considered it a failure, slipped into the “I’m too far back, there’s no use” mindset and switched off mentally for the rest of the day.

But not Dave.

He set himself the goal of chasing down 10th place on the run.

He ultimately crossed the finish line in 5th place and ran a 2:45 marathon — at the age of 42.

On paper it looks like a bad day for one of the greatest triathletes of all time — and it would have been even worse time — had he allowed himself to wallow in pity.

But the key to this sport — and life — is mindset.

Get that right and anything is possible (or as I like to say — always look for the possibilities).

Only worry about the things you can control.

You can’t control what’s going on around you.

But you can control your life, your training, your nutrition, your race.

So turn up, race hard, dig deep and only worry about the things you can control.

And you just never know what might happen.

Originally published at