In editing Trilogies, one of our main conclusions is that the best coaches are the ones who exchange the most and know how to take risk. Dan Lorang is one of them by multiplying projects. Between cycling pro, the German ITU for the last olympics or an athlete like Jan Frodeno, Dan Lorang applies his knowledge to multiple projects. Trilogies has talked to you to discover this character who is hidden behind the irresistible success of Jan Frodeno in Ironman, but also cyclists and triathletes in the making.
Who was Dan Lorang before coaching?
A passionate athlete who played soccer for 9 years, did a lot of different sports, I rode cycling races on high amateur level. But at the end I was / am fascinated by every kind of sport and especially in the development of performance. That´s why I started study sports science with the big risk of not getting a job in this particular working field of high-performance sports.
What was the turning point for you that make you decided to become a coach…
It started with 15 when I trained in a gym and some guys taught me how to do things right. I was a young teenager and was fascinated by the input that „crazy“ guys gave me and about the method behind it. So I started to read books about strength training and the passion starts full gas. The second turning point was when I met Anne Haug. She started studies with me and was looking for a coach. So we started our path (me as a coach, she as an athlete) and it was an exciting way over the years. We grew as an athlete and coach over the years and made our experience up to high performance level. We have a very special relationship and are always in close contact, no matter if I coach her or not. We have had a wonderful time even if our main goal with the Olympics 2016 was a defeat. But the way was fantastic and we are not regretting any moment of it.
Knowing the high performance in other sports like cycling, what’s your opinion on the actual practice in triathlon? Do you think that the coach should use more the science in their works?
Triathlon is a very young sport but there is already a lot of science in it. It is so complex with three different sports, that science could be a huge advantage if you use it in the right way. But to be honest I don´t like these discussions if the best coaches are those who are using more or less data, who sees more or less information in the eyes of the athletes,… At the end every athlete-coach relationship is unique and has to develop improvement in performance and personality. There is no gold standard to build success. I try to use a lot of channels to get information and knowledge and to develop myself day by day as I want to do my athletes too.
And coaching is also to manage emotion…
Absolutely. But also here you have a huge difference in coach-athlete relationship because every person needs a different approach even if there are only small differences. For example, as federation coach I saw my athletes every day and on the other side I saw Jan last year perhaps for 4-5 days the whole year… You see there is no unique solution. During the years I learnt how important emotions are. At the beginning I thought it was all about science and data but than I made the experience that these things are only 50% of the cake. There is so much more and emotions play a big part in it. Try to keep your athlete fresh in the head is the most important part in high-performance sports. He must be at 100% in his head to deliver 100% of his physical performance. I am learning day by day how different personalities works and that makes our job so exciting and challenging. To be a good coach you need to have a lot of knowledge.
Why do you think that Jan Frodeno decide to work with you?
Jan is like a wild horse. He didn’t need a coach who pushes him but perhaps a balance that takes care that he is not going over the limit every day. I think we both need plans to stick on and we are believing in what we are doing. Our job is our passion and we trust each other. Jan knows that I am really objective and tell him if he is good or not. But if you really want to know it then you have to ask him.
Can you tell us a little bit on your collaboration with him?
Our collaboration is really easy. At the end of every season we speak about how to continue and the plans for next season. Then we developed the master plan and try to stick on it as long as possible. For sure adaptations are necessary in case of illness, injuries, family, …, but in general we are able to keep the consistent work. A big advantage is also that we don´t look too much about what others are doing. So we don’t get nervous about huge results in races or training of Jan´s opponents. We try to keep a good balance between hard work and mental freshness. It is more about developing Jan, not so much about beating the others.
Last October was a weird month for you, on the one hand, it was really successful with Jan Frodeno winning again Kona, but at the same time, you were resigning from your coaching duties with DTU. How do you explain that it wasn’t working with DTU?
There is so much to say about that but it will bring no one forward now. So at the end it was a leak of trust from both sides and a different view on going on with high performance athletes and environments. It was the best way to go without getting in trouble with the federation and keeping a good relationship. Sometimes there are different ways that could lead to success but not everybody can take the same one. On the other side I was also looking for my personal development by doing a new job in a new environment at high level with new positive energy. Now, I have more time to feed my knowledge and to learn how a team of more than 80 people has to work together to build success for the whole team. That is really special in cycling and I am sure that I will take a lot of benefit from that also for the future, perhaps at some point back in triathlon or another sports.
What did you learn from this episode?
I learnt a lot from that: Stay true to yourself. To develop yourself you need the right environment. If you can´t change the environment then you have to leave even if it means to get out of the comfort zone. For my personal future I will only accept jobs/challenges which allows me to work on my way and to surround me with people who spend positive energy and have the same mindset. It is not easy to build a good team, you need the right personalities, the right combination of everything. That is a big challenge but I think I can handle that in the future.
Who are you athletes now?
9 athletes from Bora-hansgrohe like Sam Bennett, Emanuel Buchmann, … and some triathletes like: Jan Frodeno, Nick Kastelein, Anja Beranek,
What do you expect for next season in ITU.
I think ITU is in a developing process and it will be interested to see what will happen in the next years, especially with the different distances and race modes. Even if I work now in cycling I will still follow with great interest what happens in ITU.