I've had the opportunity to work with coaches on both ends of the spectrum, as well as in between, and all bring with them very different qualities.
1. Traditional/squad environment - This is where I started my journey here in Melbourne (with Tri-Bal which no longer exists). I think as someone new to the sport and also being young an impressionable, this gave me a great grounding and allowed me to let my competitive juices flow. It also let me learn a lot from more experienced people whilst creating a fun atmosphere that kept me extremely engaged with the sport.
2. Old school, big volume - After Tri-bal, I moved onto Cam Brown. Go have a look at Brownie's instagram over the last week where he's been documenting his training... Something like 23k swim, 650k bike and 130k run + gym this week. Dude is an absolute animal. I loved challenging myself with the massive volume stuff, however my body ultimately broke. I do, though, think that my period with Brownie has helped develop a massive base which I can now launch from. This approach never really explored the mental side but perhaps the challenge of simply completing the training provided that mental stimulus.
3. The more rounded/mental approach - Next up was Gilesy. For those that know Gilesy, he is an awesome bloke. In terms of training, it was a fairly similar approach to what I had been doing with Cam, albeit less volume, with a big focus of SE and race pace work on a weekly basis. Further to this, Gilesy was a big proponent of the mental aspect surrounding training and racing and the idea of how we associate with certain physical feelings. He is a big believer in utilising techniques to quite the "noise" in the mind and I can certainly see how this is relevant in a sport like ours. I have learnt a lot from Grant and whilst in my own coaching, I may never implement it to the same extent, I certainly see the value of mental engagement in the training and racing process. His workshops and ideas could certainly provide tactics which allow an athlete to explore the extra few % of their ability on race day.
4. Scientific approach - This is where I am at now working with Prof Paul Laursen. We utilise a lot of data points to analyse progression and also mix in a good amount of Vo2 work which is something I have certainly neglected previously. Further to this, Paul's approach is quite all encompassing, monitoring heart rate variability and diet as well. However, it is important to note that there is still an underlying belief that the mental is an extremely important underlying factor with recommendations for quite time and meditation a constant, high-importance, message for performance and general well-being.
The point of the above is to indicate that there is always a variety of ways to skin the cat in training from a physical standpoint. In my opinion the basis must always be aiming for consistency and this is how I intend to coach, adjusting programs on a micro level as other parts of life dictate with a larger, longer outlook in mind.
However, working with an athlete to help discover areas where easy improvement could be made from a 'mental' standpoint, shouldn't be neglected. Similar to the physical side of things, there are many different pathways to doing this, most of which can be very subtle, and they should differ from athlete to athlete dependant on their circumstances. Promoting strategies to reduce overall stress and anxiety (of which endurance exercise in itself can be one) is fantastic not just for triathletes but for humans in general.
I suppose the short version of the above opinion, as has been mentioned before, is that the physical is damn important if you want to improve in this sport. The mental can help you implement that improvement on race day and also perhaps aid in creating a healthier day-to-day life.