056: Malcolm Brown on a career in coaching and lessons from the Brownlees


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056: Malcolm Brown on a career in coaching and lessons from the Brownlees

This episode’s guest is Malcolm Brown a Performance Coach based at the Leeds Triathlon Centre where he has partnered with Jack Maitland in coaching the Brownlee Brothers, that’s Alastair and Jonny – two of the greatest triathlon racers of all time.

He was previously the head endurance coach for UK Athletics, coaching athletes to international gold medals at Commonwealth, European, World and Olympic level

Malcolm has journeyed through what would be considered one of the most traditional routes for a coach, being a PE teacher by trade, coaching in his spare time almost always on a volunteer basis and then as the system in the UK developed he began to coach professionally, first for athletics, then later in triathlon

In this interview, Malcolm reflects over the long arc of his career and draws on the lessons that have kept him so stable, cogent and wise. Malcolm tells it like it is about the state of coaching and how it has been underinvested in, how it lacks the recognition and prominence that it deserves but ardently hopes for better and is active in creating that future for coaching.

He’s supposed to be retired, but he’s still extremely active in the coaching community, having established the Leeds triathlon centre and recently the Endurance think tank. We start the conversation with a recent health scare for Malcolm, which it sounds as though many of his athletes ‘coached’ him through.

Show notes:

Club Le Santa, Lanzarote and a heart attack

How Malcolm occupied his mind when recuperating

Context to Malcolm’s 42 year coaching career

Paternal role model, interest in multiple sports, Head down and Head up perspectives from academics

Malcolm’s athletic career and the insights provided by his own injuries!

Finding the right words at the right time to support the athlete

Working with Alistair and Jonny Brownlee and picking up body language indicators in order to adapt sessions clip

Malcolm didn’t want coaching to be his job, he enjoyed his independence and autonomy too much!!

The common language of a team

Coach with significant input from the athletes led the training environment

Coach development roles, skills and competencies

The benefits of the endurance think tank

Malcolm’s observations around successful junior athletes not progressing to being successful senior athletes and the reasons he identified

The resourcefulness of the Brownlee brother’s and the necessity for them to make their own decisions as they are the athlete

How has Malcolm’s input changed with the Brownlees over time

Physiological efficiency

Malcolm’s nuggets of wisdom

Fail better!

Malcolm on Twitter


Leeds National Endurance Centre


International Council for Coaching Excellence


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