Thursday, October 31, 2013

Coaching isn't just for good people

When you think of a coach, what do you think of?

I tend to think of the coach of a sports team. Like Jim Leland of the Detroit Tigers. Or Randy Carlyle of the Maple Leafs (not that I cheer for the MLs, but I do live in Toronto - so I hear his name a lot).

I know lots of professional athletes have individual coaches, too. I've been an avid reader of Triathlon Canada, Triathlete, and Inside Triathlon for over a year now - not to mention most of the running magazines as well. I've seen articles written by coaches - and heard some of the world's best runners and triathletes speak about their coaches. I remember reading about Mirinda Carfrae and her experience with Siri Lindley she left her in 2012, and then went back to her this year leading up to Kona. I also remember reading about Ryan Hall a couple of weeks ago - and about whether his lack of formal coaching is why he keeps getting hurt.

That's not to say I didn't know age groupers had coaches as well. Pretty much right from the beginning I knew that. After all, when I went to triathlon camp back in March - about half of the folks there were being coached by Coach James or Coach Mark of Loaring Personal Coaching.

But it didn't really occur to me that I should think about hiring a coach. I figured the people being coached were far more athletic than I would ever be - and probably had really big goals they were working towards.

Okay, there was also that voice inside me that kept saying, "Are you ridiculous...they'd laugh if you even asked about it..."

And then I ran my first marathon. As you'll see from my last post - I had an awesome time. I smiled the entire way - and enjoyed getting chased around by my parents and brother's family who were out and about to capture my day in pictures.

Truth is though - I wonder if I'd had a coach to ask advice of - whether I might have been better prepared. I was sick the week of the race and didn't really do anything about it. Might a coach have given me some advice or suggestions that would've helped...even if it was just "go to the doctor!"?

That got me thinking about next year...because the minute I was done Run for Heroes, I knew I wanted to do another marathon. Around the same time, my friend Nicole also suggested a bunch of us do the new Niagara Falls triathlon - a half iron distance race (2k swim, 90k bike, 21.1k run). Of course, my first thought was, "Why not?"

After checking in with my brother Anthony to make sure I wasn't crazy (He said 'of course you can do it!'), I started to wonder how I'd prepare for that and run another marathon - hopefully without getting hurt in the process.

And then I circled back round to the idea of coaching.

I remembered how much I learned at the triathlon camp back in March. It was my first time riding a bike with thin tires - not to mention my first time with clipless pedals. And yet, I still successfully road 120 miles that week - that was because of the patience and encouragement of the coaches. I also did my first open water swim in my wetsuit that weekend. And my first interval brick workout.

I also remembered the talks I'd had with Nigel Gray (of NRG) at a couple of the seminars he gave to the Toronto Triathlon Club, and Michael Liberzon (of X3 ) during the TTC bike rides he led.

A few of my friends also have (or have had) coaches - and were more than willing to share their experiences - good and bad - with me. Some of these folks are really talented athletes, others have overcome injuries, and still others had to learn one or more of the 3 sports in order to participate effectively in triathlon (and are now doing so with incredible results). If all of these "normal" folks got benefit from coaching - then I could too, right?

So...with those thoughts in mind, I did what I normally do - which is ...I made a quick and definitive decision to hire a coach to help me prepare, train, and achieve (I hope!) my 2014 goals.

And when I realized I was going to hire a coach - I knew it was going to be LPC. I've known of LPC forever (through my brother). I've seen their athletes' amazing results (many of whom started in a similar position to me...although probably with better biking skills). They sponsored the first triathlon I ever did (the Loaring Beginner Triathlon in 2012).

And, of course, they put up with me at camp last year - when I was so green I fell over at numerous stop lights and basically had a panic attack when riding for the first time in the rain. They never suggested I consider doing less than the planned workout for the day because I was new. Instead, they just gave encouragement when I said I wanted to do it - including the 40 mile infamous Sugarloaf ride (which I did!).

So yes - as of tomorrow (or technically Monday), I'll be working with Coach Mark Linseman of LPC. Coach Mark has an incredible background in triathlon and a wide-ranging knowledge of all things training and nutrition related. Education wise, he has a BSc in Kinesiology and a MSc in Human Exercise Nutrition and Metabolism. He also has the side benefit of not being as close friends with my brother as Coach James is (laugh).

I admit that I am looking forward to learning from everyone involved with LPC as I get ready for the Niagara Falls half iron race next year, with a stop to do the Mississauga Marathon along the way!

I'll admit's really, really strange to put my training regime in someone else's hands. To trust someone else to help me achieve my goals.

But really, when you think about it - I did that once before...when I first emailed Trainer Chris for help to lose weight and become "healthy and fit."

And we all know how that worked out. I went from overweight, klutzy, and running a marathon less than two years later.

Makes me wonder what I'll accomplish over the next two years with the help of Coach Mark and everyone at LPC?