Hey Coach!

I'm heading off to a USAT Coaching Clinic this upcoming weekend.  I thought long and hard about signing up - did I really want to start coaching people?  Did I think I could really help somebody become faster, more efficient, and improve?  I think I can.  While I've been self-coached (mostly) for most of my triathlon career, I did swim competitively up into the college ranks.  I've been coached by a number of individuals, and I'd like to think that I know what to do, what not to do, and how to work with people to get the most out of their time.  I've trained with a lot of top-flight athletes, a number of whom have qualified for Kona, and know what their time, training, and sacrifices have entailed.  All of this information hasn't gone to waste.

I've actually built 1/2 Ironman training plans for a number of individuals.  I have to say I really had a good time creating them.  I found it fascinating to delve into their previous performances so I could better understand their abilities.  I enjoyed working with them to get an idea of what their schedules look like, how much time they could devote to training, and how this all impacted their overall goals.  It was actually quite a bit of fun working with them to understand their running and swimming pace so I could formulate speedwork on the track, and targeted swimming workouts.

Building an overall training plan, with periodization, pull back weeks, and taper, as well as incorporating strategically placed races, is more complicated than I originally thought.  There's a nice challenge that goes along with this process.  No two plans are alike.  Sure there may be a template that is used, but to do things correctly there's a lot of personalization involved.

What I found to be the critical piece of the training puzzle was working with these individuals to incorporate training into their real-life existence.  These folks work for a living.  One has multiple kids. Training has to be scheduled into windows of opportunity.  Quality workouts need to be the norm.  As I work full time, and train in whatever spare time I can muster during the week, I found that a key to building these plans was understanding how much time was available for training.  Then, and only then, can a truly personalized plan be formulated.

I just don't see how, via some coaching services I've seen online, filling out a web-form with minimal information can yield a detailed training plan that is tailored to the individual.  A cookie cutter approach isn't the best solution here.  There are of course some coaching services that are detailed and thorough, but some just don't look to be worth the price of admission.

But I digress.  At the end of the day, it's thrilling for me to see people get excited about training for a big race.  To listen to someone become animated, looking forward to long brick workouts, four hour training rides, and speedwork, is really satisfying.

As I said, I've built some 1/2 Iron plans. My biggest challenge to date, however, is building a training plan for my wife.

JL asked me to build a sprint triathlon training plan for her.  Not a problem!  This was going to be great, as I know what her paces are, I know what her schedule is, and I can easily customize a plan for her for the summer race she's targeting.  This was before she decided to take most of the winter off from training.  So, I'm going back to the drawing board on this one.

Looking at the agenda for the upcoming clinic it looks like a very full 3 days of training this weekend.  I'll try to provide an overview of the sessions when I return next week.