Coaching Lessons from this Year
by Gordo Byrn
Three things stand out from the last year.
The first is an example of what we’re up against in terms of our competition for Kona slots.
In May, one of the athletes that I coach, Ron Ottaway, broke his hip. Heading into surgery, he sent me an email asking my thoughts on how this might impact his chances for a slot at Ironman Arizona.
The injury was a tough one and Ron’s still not back to full function. He did, however, win his agegroup and qualify for Kona at Ironman Arizona.
More than winning, my buddy is an example of the best in sport – there’s no quit in Ron Ottaway!
Ron is 74 years old.
Very few people do everything right for an extended period of time. This gives the truly dedicated a chance to succeed through superior commitment.
The opportunity cost of high-level training is hidden by the fatigue and necessary obsession associated with going big. If you’ve been unable to get a return from your athletic investment then consider a long-term project this winter.
Athletes that consistently underperform on race day will find that their lives (and racing) improve with a reduced focus on training performance.
This past year, I saw athletes racing better on less and others racing worse on more. The one thing these athletes have in common was consistent underperformance on race day when they did everything right in training.
This winter, consider your return on investment.
The long-term trend of greatly improving age group performance continued this year and the slots available at each event continue to tighten. While you might not need to win your age group to qualify, you need to come pretty darn close.
At the top of your age group, everyone is training well; most have flexible jobs; and, despite what you read in their interviews, they are putting up very solid training year round.
Our Qualifying for Kona series covers our thoughts on the work that’s required. As a coach, the main areas where I add value to high-performers:
When an athlete isn’t able to do the work, it’s an easy decision for a coach to let go.
A tougher situation is dealing with the highly motivated athlete that repeats mistakes and can’t rest. Be wary of financial and emotional co-dependence as you can pour a ton of energy into a situation that will never resolve.
In 2011, I had to step away from a couple of my best athletes. While a tough decision, my star athletes have noticed an improvement in my ability to serve them and my alumni continue to excel.
Gordo is the founder of Endurance Corner. You can find his personal blog here.