Tim A’hern

Often athletes want a coach that has been there, done that. Tim Ahern has walked the walk, or more accurately run the run having held the Ironman Australia run record for years. He competed at the highest level of Ironman racing both here and overseas, all while holding down a full time job, so he understands the complexities of being an age group triathlete.

Tim Ahern

The coach/squad

Who is Tim Ahern/ APT?

It is not about me.  APT is a group of likeminded Athletes who enjoy each other’s company and strive to achieve their personal best while having fun.

Where are you based?

Cronulla NSW

How did you come to the sport?

From Athletics.  I represented NSW in Shot Put, Discus, Long Jump and Triple Jump. My Dad always said ‘’Son you are a long distance athlete’’ but I did not enjoy the pain. I had a kidney operation when I was 20 and part of the recovery process was walking every day which I did with my Mum. After a bout 6 weeks I became bored with walking and started jogging. From there my brother and I started riding bikes for recovery from running, we then entered The Ride and Stride series run by Jim Prendergast and Warwick Brennan.

We quickly developed into reasonable cyclists. At one of these races I ran into Greg Welch who I had met when we were 14. He had just started Triathlon so I thought this sounded like great fun.

In the same race I was nearly T- boned by this guy riding next to me. After the race I was talking to Welchy and he introduced me to Bruce Hopkins, it turned out he was the guy that almost ran into me. To this day Bruce and I are mates and he now helps run sessions for me. My first Triathlon was Nepean 1985.

How did you come to coaching?

I kept being asked advice on how to balance family, work and life in general with triathlon. I then contacted Jamie Turner, who was awesome, he put me in touch with the right people and a week later I was at AIS doing my Level 2 Coaching course. I can’t thank Jamie enough for his encouragement and support.

What type of coaching do you do? Face to face/ internet/ squad based?

A bit of everything.

Do you have a favourite distance to coach?

Ironman has always been my passion.

Do you have a favourite discipline to coach?

I love coaching running; it is such a simple and natural sport.

What is the one thing that you think is unique about your coaching or squad?

My relationship with the athletes, we have become like family.

Do you think it is important for a coach to have competed in triathlon/ competed at a high level in triathlon/ competed at the distances they coach?

Yes. The questions I am often asked would be hard to answer without prior hands on experience. Working balance into the programs is also a lot easier having raced.

How many people do you coach ?

It ranges between 30 and 50.

Qualifications? (theoretical and/or real life experience)

Level 2 Triathlon Coach.

As a coach what are your goals?

To provide a Safe, fun and challenging Triathlon program


How would you describe your coaching style?

Real life, old school, achieveable

Do you follow a general philosophy or influence, e.g. Friel, Lydiard, etc?

The “Southwell” approach! I was lucky enough to train with John and Tony Southwell, their influence on the way I trained, raced and now coach has been invaluable. I can’t thank them enough.

What method do you use to communicate with your clients (phone, email, face to face)? How often?

All of the above and they can contact me whenever they feel the need for a chat.

How do you gauge performance improvements? (Races, training, tts, power analysis)

In training test sets, obviously racing is the great indicator.

Do you believe in/use gadgets (Pace watch/PM/hr monitor)?

GPS watches are great for recording real time info. Although I think todays athlete is transfixed on data and not racing on feel.

How much feedback do you give your athletes on workouts (Daily/weekly/as needed)?

I get the Athlete to send back their weekly diary every week, if needed I will contact them, I try to instil in them, that if there is a problem to contact me.

Do you use training peaks or something similar?


What's your experience working with people who work extreme hours and how do you adapt their programmes to that?

That is a challenge I enjoy. The main thing I find is setting them achievable goals every day based on the time they have, what hours they are working on that day, and making sure that family time is taken into consideration.

How individually tailored are your programs?

I try to tailor every ones programs to their needs.

Do you offer advice on diet, vitamins, supplements and alternative therapies (such as chiro, accu, yoga)?

No, I leave that to the experts, but I do have a great support team of Professional’s that I can recommend people to.


What attributes do you think make an athlete easier to coach to their desired results?

Someone who believes in their Coach and is committed to their program.

Do you specialise in or have a preference for novice athletes, seasoned athletes,  etc.?

All I ask for is committed athletes with a good sense of humour.

Would you be honest with me in regards to my goals and aspirations?

Yes I am a great believer of not getting your capabilities and ambitions mixed up. However, in saying that, I get huge kick out of watching massive improvements from athletes.

Have you ever sacked a client who didn't follow your advice?

No but have asked people to train elsewhere due to their disruptive behaviour.

Have you coached mature athletes? How do you treat them differently?

I have, and I don’t treat them any different. The mature athletes love getting in there with the younger ones and showing them how it is done. Some of my best Coaching memories are with the mature athletes.

Do you understand the recovery needs of older athletes?

Yes, they vary a lot depending on the person, one thing I have noticed is that recovery sessions are more advantageous than rest days.

What percentage of your athletes survives the training injury free?

That is my main aim, I always say to them ‘’ there is no good being the fittest most injured athlete on the start line’’ it always comes to matching the capabilities of the athlete with the program.

Do you practice what you preach?

Not anymore, but anything I set for my athletes I could still do myself.

How do you look at intensity vs volumes?

Definitely intensity, most of the athletes I Coach are time poor so anytime training has to be used wisely.


Everyone’s idea of success is different. Tell me a couple of your success stories both as a coach and with athletes you train.

Matt Craft. Came and met with me as someone who had done just over 12hrs in Ironman, due to his consistency and ability to trust in me he ended up with multiple Australian Ironman titles, and a sub 9hr Ironman.

Lauren Fitzgerald, she would be successful at any sport she took up and still has the highest static jump of any athlete in the AIS Basketball program. A phenomenal work ethic and a great attitude to training.

As a Coach anytime I watch Athletes compete.


Cost and what do I get for this?

Call me 0417669948