Athlete Case Study: Boris Bourdin

Photo of a triathlete riding his bike
September 24, 2020

Brad Seng



COVID Lockdown to IM Personal Best

To say this race season has been unique is an understatement!  The COVID-19 pandemic has presented challenges to athletes and coaches across the globe.  One of my athletes, Boris Bourdin, resides in Spain which was one of the hardest hit European countries with strict lockdowns.  Going into the season his target goal race was IM Austria originally scheduled for July 4th.  It would eventually be postponed to September and ultimately cancelled.  

As you can see from Boris’ PMC chart below, we had an effective early season building his fitness heading into 70.3 Oman in early February.  Once COVID hit and he was on a strict lockdown (48 days of no outdoor activity other than for food/groceries, doctor appointment, dog walking, etc.) you can see his CTL (fitness) score drop significantly.  During this timeframe we increased his cycling frequency (all trainer rides), at home strength/TRX sessions, swim cord/dryland sessions and some indoor running using his apartment complex stairwells.  We focused on consistency and staying active as best he could.  Cycling sessions included a mix of easy/recovery rides, technique & big gear rides and sweet spot/FTP work.  He attended many of the D3 Q-Training sessions.  Those were Zoom sessions the D3 coaches held during quarantine for swim cords, core, biking and run activation.  Here are his data points pre/post COVID:

  • Beginning of COVID:  105 CTL, 106 ATL, -6 TSB
  • End of COVID:  91 CTL, 86 ATL, 3 TSB

Once his lockdown ended in early May we were able to re-introduce the running and swimming.  Fortunately, he had access to open water initially and then his local pool.  One of the first things he commented on when getting back into swimming was how strong he felt in the water with his aquatic posture due to all the swim cord, dryland and strength training he did during the lockdown.  He was noticeably swimming faster and more efficiently.  Per his PMC chart you can see we were able to start re-building at the end of his lockdown with steady gains in his overall fitness.  He had a slight drop in his CTL in mid-June to early July with a family vacation and then we once again saw a nice upward trend with his CTL as we worked towards the rescheduled IM Austria in September.  

In late August we received word that IM Austria was being cancelled and we had to make a quick decision on what to do with the options he was provided by WTC.  Fortunately, IM Tallinn in Estonia was looking quite hopeful and only two weeks before the rescheduled IM Austria race date.  At this point the heavy lifting of his IM prep had been done and it was simply a matter of cutting back some volume to allow for adaptations and recovery going into the race.  

The overall race day experience was quite different with new COVID guidelines in place, but Boris effectively executed his race day plan to a personal best in 12:22.  It was an incredible journey for him and I am very proud of his efforts throughout the year!

Coach Brad Seng has coached a wide variety of athletes over the past 10 years and he can tell you this: while there’s no substitute for consistent training and proper nutrition, a strong fitness base is just one part of the equation.  A breakthrough can also be as simple as working on your mindset, fueling your success with sound mental strategies.  Coach Brad’s credentials and career highlights can be viewed here.

Coach Brad Seng enjoys working with athletes of all abilities who set a variety of personal goals. He understands difficult training days. Challenging days and subpar workouts are inevitably part of the triathlon landscape, as are the times when you’re feeling great and everything clicks. He believes there are lessons to be learned from experiencing both. Sometimes having to fight for a workout is just what’s needed to achieve an important breakthrough in mental conditioning.  

Coach Brad is a USA Triathlon Certified Level II, USA Triathlon Certified Youth & Junior, Training Peaks Level 2 Certified Coach and NESTA Certified Sports Nutritionist (National Exercise and Sports Trainers Association).

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