Friday, February 8, 2013

12 Tools for Your Triathlon Toolbox - #12 A Coach

“I don’t know where to start.”
“I want to do it right.”

“I need to be held accountable.”

“I trust you.”

“I’ve been doing this on my own for awhile and now I want to improve.”

“I want honest feedback.” 

“I want to be pushed.”
“I don’t have a lot of free time so I need to maximize my time spent training.” 

“I need help figuring out all the details.”

When I hear statements like these from athletes, I nod my head and smile…for two reasons:  #1 – Statements like these indicate to me that the athlete is ready for coaching and #2 – I know I can deliver.
Having a knowledgeable coach in your triathlon toolbox is a great way to succeed in the sport of triathlon. 
A good coach will save you time.  They will spend time thinking about you, your goals, your races, your life, your strengths, your weaknesses and your limits.    They will use their expertise to create a training plan that is exclusively for you.  Not only will they create the plan, they will adjust the plan when an unexpected event happens.

After one of my athletes finished his “A” race for the year, he sent me a wonderful email in which he stated the following:

Having a two year old and a family is not an easy task.  I know there were missed workouts in there that I just did not get to for one family reason or another.  You were always supportive of changing my schedule and adjusting to the challenges.   I can’t tell you how much I appreciate that.”

An effective coach will give you honest feedback.  Coaches can look at athletes from the outside…in…with an objective eye.  It is sometimes difficult to know when to push and when to back off.  There are several ways in which athletes are influenced (ex. Friends, Family Members, Training Partners, Blogs, etc.).  The job of the coach is to focus on the athlete’s needs, abilities and goals by keeping it real.  There is nothing the coach wants more than for the athlete to succeed.

Here is more feedback I recently received: 

“Although I tend to feed better off the positive energy, sometimes I need a kick in the pants from the “coach” every now and again.  You were always there to give me a little dose of the truth when I needed it.”

A dedicated coach will help you with all the details of your race.  There are tons of logistics involved in a triathlon which can be overwhelming at first.  The longer the distance of the race, the more details are involved.  “What time should I arrive at the race?”, “How do I set up transition?”, “Will someone steal my bike while I’m swimming?”, “What’s the deal with Special Needs Bags?”, “Where do I take off my wetsuit when I come out of the water?”, “Are there bathrooms on the run course?”, “Can I change my clothes during the race?”

I traveled with one of my athletes for his Ironman.  From the time he arrived in the host city until right before the race, everything was “smooth sailing”.  About 45 minutes before the race was to start, he realized he forgot his nutrition bottles in the refrigerator at his B&B, which was 2 miles away.  Guess who “high tailed it” back to his B&B to get his bottles…..ME!  Yes, ladies and gentlemen, when your loyal coach accompanies you to a race, they WILL go back and get ANYTHING you forgot!
I definitely realize having a coach is not for everyone.  But, if you are ready to take it to the next level, start talking to different coaches and coached athletes.  Coaches have their own personalities and methodologies.  Be sure the coach you are about to hire has a certification through USA Triathlon , has a solid reputation with current and former athletes and is clear about their services and expectations.

With the addition of a coach to your triathlon toolbox, you have everything you need to be a star triathlete!

Happy Training and Racing! 

NOTE: I will be conducting a free clinic, “Planning Your Triathlon Race Year” at Road Runner Sports in Atlanta on Monday, February 11that 6:00pm.  RSVP on Road Runner Sports’ Facebook Event Page to be entered in a raffle to win a free pair of shoes!

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