Over the past 16 years I have had my very own private sports coach, and I’ve been lucky enough to have one of the most experienced and versatile cycling coaches I’ve met for the last 10 years. What started out as a referral from Hall of Fame cyclists Lon Haldeman and Susan Notorangelo has transitioned into something I never could have imagined. In training for and completing Paris Brest Paris 2007, my coach and I were able to work together to achieve something amazing. Since then, my coach has guided my way (including a return to Ironman, Ironman 70.3, and competing in multiple World Championships) and mentored my success in my own coaching business.
As a former desk-jockey with a two-hour commute and a sixty to eighty-hour work-week, I didn’t have time to mess around. I needed to know the right workout plan at the right time for me to meet my goals. It took trial and experimentation, hard work, sweat and some tears, but ultimately, the job always got done. I surprised myself with my performances, but I never surprised my coach. She knew what I was capable of, and she believed in and encouraged me. I was the only one ever holding myself back.
Athletes and training partners have asked me why I use a coach when I am one myself. Well, while I’ve been racing and coaching for years, I don’t believe that it’s truly possible for anyone to be 100% objective in their own coaching. If I looked at my own metrics and data without knowing it was mine, I could analyze it and make suggestions, but it is knowing the athlete, what their life demands are, and how they respond to their workouts that allows the coach to sculpt the optimal plan. I believe it was Bobby McGee, High Performance Advisor to Team USA, that told me there isn’t anything secret or new in coaching, it’s the art of applying the science that makes the coach. An athlete simply cannot be 100% objective in their own training, even if they are the best coach in the country.
My coach is an experienced athlete and has been coaching for more than 25 years. She makes sure we regularly check in via phone as we are separated across the country, and she has me trained to input my data and comments so she knows what’s going on. OHHH the emails if I don’t! As a coach I understand when she’s frustrated, and as an athlete and retired professional World Champion mountain bike racer and RAAM 2nd place racer, she understands the athlete’s side too. It allows her to call me on my bologna, and to also push me and get to the grit when needed. She knows my strengths, my weaknesses, and she is good in bringing out the best performances in me. Her workouts are always clearly driven, and I know the goals of the month.
In the end, if I do what my coach says, I get great results. Trusting in your coach is an absolute must, and I know she’s a guaranteed win on my team. I encourage you to be a participant in your coaching, and to ask WHY so you understand the reason for your workouts and where you’re headed. It’ll help motivate you and to stay focused.
It’s coaches like these that have laid the groundwork for where the coaching profession has evolved to today, and for the trajectory it’s taking. My coach inspires me to be the best athlete I can be, and I hope I do the same for you!
Are you a coached athlete yet?
Thank you Michelle Grainger of Athletic Excellence for ten years of awesome.
As Isaac Newton said, “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”