On Coaching… finding a coach, being a coach, being coachable!
I love coaching people for fitness and races. I’ve been coaching since I’ve been personal training, which is since 1999. (oh my gosh, I just realized this has been 20 years now). There is so much I love about coaching because I have the opportunity to see the growth, the struggles, adaptations, progress, journey and the joy of success. Coaching is ALWAYS a blend of science and a bit of art, a bit of matching the science with the person, and discovering along the way.
I obviously am biased…. But I do honestly have moments of disbelief and questioning, “Why would someone NOT have a coach?” I understand--- it is a cost, it is a luxury. But, I also realize that for a goal that means BIG THINGS to you (as GOALS should!!), it is amazingly helpful.
A few things I’ve learned over the years:
*FINDING A COACH---
---------Reach out and ASK. Coaches are usually busy coaching and doing what they do, and they are COACHES. They are not marketing specialists. My point is: reach out and tell them what you are hoping to achieve, ask how they can help you, etc. This is the start of the relationship/conversation that needs to happen, so make it happen.
-------Speaking of: the conversation should be two sided—ask them things that will let you know if this is a coach that will be right for you. Let the coach know YOUR expectations of what you are looking for and need. The potential coach should have many questions for you also. If they are not asking about your goals (big dreams and smaller benchmarks)/background/history in the sport, injury history, etc…. ) they SHOULD BE! And the coach should have expectations of YOU as well!
-----Do you want to have a coach that is local and to do in person coaching? Or are you looking for online coaching, where your coach can be far away from you, but still create plans for you based on communication of results, training session updates, etc. If you are wanting someone local to do in person coaching, this is usually to see your form or work with you in some capacity on strength as it applies to your sport, form with your sport, OR the motivation to get the hard training done. Sometimes they will offer group coaching so you can split the hourly cost. If you are looking to have a coach give you a plan for progressing your speed, fitness, endurance, as long as you are both great at communicating, you can be across the world, frankly. I coached 2 athletes while they were living in Japan, someone in Saudi Arabia, in California and also Washington state. (and I am in virginia).
------ouch, this is a big one. It is hard. I have learned over time that sometimes people are not quite reach to have a coach. Let me explain. To be coachable, you have to be able to BE OPEN. If you are seeking out a coach, it means that you are open to their ideas of progress. You can of course ask them questions (and as coaches, this is a DELIGHT when people do ask!!!!), but if you are doubting your coach’s plan for you without talking to them about it and voicing your concerns, this lack of positive open-ness and trust WILL play out later (and not in the way you would like!). You have to be open to receive instruction in ways that maybe you wouldn’t give to yourself. This is sometimes the whole essence of coaching for people—for example, sometimes people know that they simply will not do something without being told to by their coach and accountable to that coach. On the flip side, others will sometimes think/doubt/second guess the plan and “change it” to what they think is really the best thing for them, and….. well, again… don’t blame the coach when results don’t happen when you do this! An example is this: As a coach, I always flat out tell athletes that when creating a training program, I often ask myself, “what is the hardest training set that I can think of for this person to do before this race or big goal.” From that, maybe I come up with a plan- for example a brick workout (bike/run combination) that is a 30 mile bike/10 mile run. (this is just example). I may specifiy that I want the 30 mile bike to be a 5 mile warm up into 3x 5 mile segments all out with 5 miles light recovery. Immediately into the 10 mile run as 2 miles transition, then each 2 miles build pace.
Athlete A thinks: perfect- this is what I need, and there is no way I would have attempted this unless Coach told me to. This athlete goes and gives it what they can.
Athlete B thinks: really? I’ve never done this before. I’ve heard/read that you shouldn’t do anything longer than 1 hour running after a bike for training. My last coach never gave me this workout to do. This athlete goes out and… not quite believing fully in the workout…. Does the bike but then does half the run because … of reasons above and wanting to “not overdo” training during the run, thinking, well if I can do 5 or 6 of these miles, then certainly I can do 4 more…. (NOT).
I’ve seen both of these things happen. Enough said. One coachable. One not. Believe in yourself, BELIEVE ALSO IN YOUR COACH!!, take risks, commit to the work.
From the persepective of… “BEING A COACH”:
*Please send us results. Let us do our job WELL!!!!! Results are MORE THAN: “I did Mondays workout.” That tells me not much. It doesn’t tell me what was easy/hard, how it felt, where you struggled, what you felt after, and on and on…. The MORE you tell me as your coach, the more I can help you!
*Develop yourself as an athlete by following the ENTIRE plan: strength, endurance, mental training, core, stretching, nutrition, sleep, etc.
As coaches, we know things come up, life happens, sickness happens, family events come up, (and I can have you train WITH your family!!)
and we will see your commitment through these things. Adjustments can be made for work travel, and GOALS CAN BE ACCOMPLISHED if you truly do want what you say you want😊 bad enough!