Interview with Lubos Bilek

18. June 2019

picture: Michael Rauschendorfer

Lubos Bilek has been coaching successful triathletes for years. His clients include or included 70.3 Rapperswil winner Andi Böcherer, Ruedi Wild, Ronnie Schildknecht or Hawaii winner Sebastian Kienle. Thanks to his experience and exceptional intuition, the Czech, who resides in Switzerland, manages to get the most out of his athletes.

In your eyes, what are the three most important factors that lead to success?

This is not easy to answer. There is always an interplay of several factors. However, I would commit myself to the following three points:

  • Talent. This term can be extended to many areas, such as, for instance, stress tolerance, the ability to learn motion sequences, and willpower.
  • Years of training. It takes at least 10,000 hours of training to reach the world-class level. It does not matter here whether you are doing a triathlon or playing the piano.
  • The environment. This includes the family, coach and physiotherapist, among others.

As a coach, what are the three most common mistakes you encounter with regard to your own or other athletes?

Probably the biggest mistake is that people are impatient. Everyone wants too much too soon. However, rational continuous training is extremely important. It is the only way to stay healthy. And if you are healthy, training is fun, and if you're having fun, you will also improve automatically.

I find the second most common mistake is the diet. Many athletes destroy themselves with it. It is not always beneficial to have 5% body fat and be 10 kg underweight.

The third problem I see is the fact that many athletes look at what the others are training instead of focusing on themselves. On no account should they be training like the professional athletes, even when it comes to role models such as Jan Frodeno or Sebastian Kienle. This definitely won’t work.

You have made a lot of athletes stronger again. What areas can usually be improved?

I coach each professional athlete differently / individually. I look for what the athlete needs. There are no two athletes the same. One needs more intensity, the other more scope. One needs a lot of preparatory competitions before the target race, the other less. It is not easy to figure out who needs what. That is why I always tell the athletes wanting to train with me that it can take up to a year until we know each other so well that everything works perfectly.

For many years you have been involved in the triathlon scene where you have experienced a lot, not to mention the development of the triathlon sport. How has the requirements profile of athletes developed over the course of time?

The triathlon is a young sport that is continually evolving. For example, if you look at the Olympic distance at the world-class level, you will see that they tried to find good swimmers and teach them running. The running times today, however, are so incredible that the trend now is much more a case of finding a runner that you can try to teach to swim.

This is also constantly changing in the long distance. In the era of Normann Stadler, the cyclist was in front, in the era of Craig Alexander, the runner, then the cyclist again (Sebastian Kienle) and now the runner again (Patrick Lange). In summary: it keeps on changing.

Many hobby athletes want to complete a triathlon once in their lives. What are the top 3 tips?

  • The sport has to be fun. And the sport is only fun if you are healthy, and if the family does not suffer from the scope of training.
  • It is always important to have a coach (swimming or triathlon coach) at the beginning (but not only at the beginning).
  • If you want to do an Ironman, you need to give yourself 3 years (or even more). In the first year, the Olympic distance, in the second year, the middle distance, and then in the third year, the entire long distance.

Do you have a secret tip you would be willing to share with us?

The most important factor for me is regeneration. My favourite phrase is: «Recovery makes a champion». Everyone can train a lot, but at the end of the day, those who have confidence in their abilities and can rest properly in the last few days before the competition are the ones who win.