by Nicolas Theopold
As dedicated long-distance triathletes we spend a lot of time, energy, and money in realizing our goals. I believe that one of the key ingredients to success is how well your training program works for you.
A good coach is important to a strong and consistent training program for those of us who are not going the self-coaching route. In my brief time as a focused triathlete I have found that there is more to it than just how good your coach is. In the first two years I worked with two coaches before joining Alan Couzen’s roster and losing my “coaching wanderlust.” Having finally found something that works has helped me realize what’s important to me in a coaching relationship.
- Speak the same language - Make sure that you and your coach have a good way to communicate. I like data, benchmarks, and tangible goals, so there is little surprise that I enjoy Alan’s analytical depth and thoroughness in his communication. A friend of mine is quite different -- too much data stresses him out, so he stays away from it, and his coaching interactions are more qualitative.
- Understand the purpose - Ironman training is immensely tiring and taxing. I personally find it very rewarding to understand what the purpose of a training phase or even single session is -- it helps me dig into it mentally and enables me to do my best effort when the going gets tough or to slow me down when I need to.
- Understand how it should feel - Remote coaching can be tricky -- there is no direct interaction between the coach and the athlete where the coach can gauge how training is absorbed. Numbers are very helpful to guide the training but it’s still possible to misunderstand what my coach wants from me. If he wants me to run 200m in "X" seconds during a VO2 set -- should this be all out? Should it be fast but controlled?
- Align expectations - Have the conversation with your coach about what goals you want to reach, what you are willing and able to do to reach them, and then listen to him or her. Maybe you are aiming too low, or you are overly optimistic about how quickly you can reach that big goal. In the past year I have learned that patience pays: progress may not always be fast, but if you keep at it, results will come!
- Be clear in your needs - I deal badly with uncertainty, especially when time is tight and it is difficult to fit work and training. Minimizing the noise of unpredictability becomes very important to me. Planning a few weeks ahead, keeping workouts relatively well known, can make life easier for me when things get stressful. Letting your coach know these kinds of things helps set the right kind of plan for you.
- Give feedback - Good feedback is going to make your coach’s life much easier as you progress in your training. Log your training well and try to be consistent in your assessment. For example, let your coach know how tired you felt afterward a session. And if you disagree with your coach, let him or her know. Working these things out builds trust and strengthens your coaching relationship.
At 2m Nicolas is one of the "big units" at Endurance Corner. A dabbler in all sorts of sports he is now working with Alan Couzens to become faster and see where the athletic journey leads. You can read his blog at bibivslagrande.blogspot.com.