Sunday, November 20, 2011

Setting up for Success

I have been reading, picking brains, preparing, and working on an Annual Training Plan for 2012.  I have had many people ask me whether or not I am going to get a coach.  I've given the idea minimal thought up until now. 2012 brings new challenges - the IM distance, a new age group, working full time, and a flat out new routine.  Change is great, but all these changes feel like they are coming down the pipeline in one follow swoop.  In January I will embark on my training season, I will begin my final internship of PT school, I will no longer be in the "baby" age group, and I will be moving to Georgia for a few months.  The question weighing on my mind now is would a coach offer stability and consistency throughout a crazy year or add to the craziness?

Growing up I've always had a coach, even more than one coach for soccer.  Club coach, ODP coach, school coach, trainer, etc and I am grateful for each and every coach I had from U6 through college.  When I dove into the world of triathlon it was an individual adventure and the thought of having a coach didn't cross my mind.  Triathlon was somewhere to focus my time and energy, an escape from the city, an escape from the school work, and a time to be a peace and feel in control.  Why until now have I thought that I could do this on my own?  I may be able to develop a great training plan, break barriers and push myself to achieve some of my goals but I know from experience I can perform better than I thought possible when I am in the right atmosphere.

As I have blogged about a bit before I am currently writing out an Annual Training Plan for 2012.  I have all my weekly hours decided upon and my 'Big Day's' scheduled.  The day by day workouts when left up to me could quickly plateau into what is comfortable.  I am trying to avoid feeling 'comfortable' with workouts and many other aspects of life.  Is progress really being made if you feel 'comfortable'?  Since the HIM and MCM I've continued to train - not at the same volume or intensity I was training at but I never took more than 1 solid day off.  I am a firm believer in active recovery, but I noticed that I was becoming run down mentally and physically.  This weekend I cut myself a break - I took off to NYC for 3 nights with a few good friends, had a ball, went for a swim, and mentally checked out of training mode.  The great company and fun adventure were a well needed break for the body, mind, and soul.  I knew I couldn't keep chuggin' away until January and expect to feel fresh just because it was the start of a new cycle,  I needed to set myself up for success.

While developing the training plan and completing multiple goal based assignments for school I have been able to really think about what I want from triathlon, my career and life in general.  I have had the opportunity to speak with those who have been where I want to be, those who are also taking the journey to where I want to be and those who just share the same passion for triathlon.  I have the opportunity in January to work for a clinic that could indeed be in my dream setting, I'll have the opportunity to work with other PT's that compete in triathlon, and good thing I'll have the opportunity to train in warm weather :).  As the dream, goal, and possibilities have flowed through my mind I contemplate the realistic-ness of them.  They say if there's a will there's a way, but is there a cieling that could end up in my way?  In my life outside of triathlon I've considered working full time, working part time, settling down soon or not, getting a dog or not among other thoughts.  All of these thoughts have led me to ponder the effectiveness of getting a coach and where I see my life in the next few years.

What would/should I look for in a coach?
I know right off the bat I would want to incorporate my goals into a working relationship with the coach.  I have an education in kinesiology and physical therapy so a knowledge base of performance is there.  I know without a doubt I would want the coach to get to know me and not throw a general workout at me.  I would want a coach to look at my past race results and training to see where I've come from and help me get to where I am going.  I would probably need a coach that would be patient and/or helpful in teaching me how to use some of the technology i.e. the Garmin +HR monitor that I've used about once, training peaks, etc.  I've trained by feel for the most part up until now.  I've made mistakes and learned from them - such as expecting myself to be better then next day than I was today every single time I train.  I would want a coach that share's the philosophy in developing weaknesses and making my strengths my strengths.  I would want a coach that is a teacher, not a dictator.  If I have the faith in someone to coach me, to help me achieve my dreams, then I want them to share there knowledge with me, work with me to break barriers.

Personal Barriers to Coaching
I also know from past experiences that I have to have a great amount of respect for the coach and need to feel as though the coach believes in me.  Some of my worst performances were when I felt like a coach did not believe in my skill but instead was playing me because they felt they had to.  This may have all been mental and me taking myself out of the game but nonetheless I know the best performances were when the coach recognized my abilities and appreciated them for what they were.  I know that when I don't have a good amount of respect for my coach I am less coachable.  I don't want to listen to people who haven't been when I want to be or at least gotten other athletes to where I want to be.  A window into my mind looks something like this, "if my bike splits are consistently better than yours, why should I listen to what you're saying, I am obviously doing this better than you."  I know this may not be right, there are many valid points to be made about technique, handling, tactics, etc even if I am faster.  So bottom line I would want a coach that has been or has produced athletes at the level I want to be at.

Pros of the Self-Coach Method
My training plan, is just that, my training plan.  Any alterations and adjustments are mine and mine alone.  I know that if I don't get where I want to be it is all on my shoulders, no fingers to point and no one else to blame.  I know my body and I know it well, no one else will feel how I feel after a training session or race no matter how well and how may adjectives I use to describe it.  Flat out, as far as I know, it's cheaper.  I can adjust my swim, bike, run workouts whenever and however I feel to fit into life.

Logistics of Finding a Coach
The most basic of problems - I have no clue where to start.  I am on a student loan budget - I'm not quite sure if this is good or bad, but it is what it is.  How does the triathlon coaching market work?  Do I find a coach in DC, do I find a coach in Georgia?  Does it matter where the coach lives?  How much could I expect to pay, what if I am not getting the results that we set up to achieve?  Would the coach be willing to take any responsibility for the lack of production?  How do I find a coach that wants to coach me - based on my past and my goals and doesn't just want another athlete to put in their file?  Will coaches drop you if you aren't performing up to par?

All of these questions and probably more, but a good start.  If you have any experience with finding a triathlon coach or are a coach yourself or support the self-coach method leave your 2 cents ;)  The best way to learn is to talk and listen to those who have gone through exactly what you are going through.  I know I haven't outright stated my goals, where I see myself in 4 years, etc.  If you really want to know send me a message.  In the meantime offer up any advice, good or bad, to help me set myself up for success.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Individual Behavior Change

The off-season is upon us and what better time to write out some goals for the upcoming 2012 training and racing year!  I have completed 2 of 3 clinical internships for Physical Therapy School and am now back in class. We were recently given an assignment in our Health Promotion and Wellness Class on Individual Behavior Change.  I think it's pretty awesome that I can turn my passion and goals for triathlon into a school assignment and get a grade for it.  I began working on my annual training plan for 2012 last weekend and decided to make the completion of the ATP my Target Behavior for the assignment.  I plan on posting more details on creating your own ATP and the steps I went through when I am closer to completion as well as all my goals, objectives, and strategies for 2012 but for now I'll get you started with my Individual Behavior Change assignment.  A look into the life of a 3rd year PT Student ;)

Target Behavior:  I will create/design and complete my 2012 annual training plan by December, 12 2011 appropriate for completing IRONMAN Louisville, 2 HIM, and multiple short course races during the 2012 season.

I will attend 2 forums/discussions pertaining to race planning and Iron distance events with DC Tri Club         members before December 1.
I will calculate annual hours, weekly hours, along with peak and recovery weeks throughout the course of the 2012 season to maximize my ability to perform my best at “A” races before December 12.
I will begin to incorporate swimming, cycling, and running skills and techniques throughout my off-season 3x/wk to allow me to incorporate them into the ATP.
I will be open to change and flexible allowing my body to appropriately recover from any setbacks I may face throughout the 2012 season.

Theory:  I am currently in the action phase of the transtheoretical model of change of this behavior change.  This past year, 2011, was my second season as a triathlete.  The season went well and I even surprised myself and others with a few of my results (all results here).  I had a training plan, in my mind, and goals to work towards throughout the season involving specific distances and times.  I recorded all workouts through the year in my excel spreadsheet and was able to track progress, setbacks, etc.  I do realize though that I never set up an annual training plan for the year and that I may have been able to perform even better had I thought out a plan that incorporated proper rest/recovery and peak weeks.  As the season has come to an end and I am enjoying some off season workouts and relaxation it is time to set up an Annual Training Plan for 2012.  An annual training plan will be imperative for the 2012 season as it will be my first year competing in an IRONMAN event.  I have already begun estimating annual training hours, breaking down my training cycles, and incorporating skill/technique training throughout the off-season.  On 11/10/11 I will attend my first race planning discussion with DC Tri Club.

Strategies to achieve goal:
Sit and talk with people who have completed an IRONMAN – be a sponge
Use resources such as The Triathletes Training Bible and Going Long to help break down annual hours, weekly hours, and when and where to include peak weeks/recovery weeks.
Become familiar and comfortable with technique skills/drills in all 3 sports during the off-season.
Attend clinics, seminars, discussions regarding race planning, skills, IRONMAN preparation, etc.
Spend at least 30 min 5days/week working on ATP.
Use the “off-season” as the off season so when the ATP kicks in I am ready to go.

Finish Line of IM LOUISVILE