Becoming a Coach

Is it really Ironman vs USAT ?

I received an email from an athlete / coach that I know. They're USAT Level 1 certified, and they're currently going through the Ironman University offering. The individual in question was quite emphatic about how USAT failed them in their coach certification, and how the Ironman program was superior. 

As our email chain went back and forth, I was told that the Ironman program was more in-depth. That the USAT program only allowed them to learn small portions of periodization. That there aren't enough people racing ITU for USAT to spend time focusing on it. Stating that the testing process for USAT certification was lacking.

Now, I'm not saying that USA Triathlon, or any other national governing body, is better than another in regards to coach certification and education. I'm also not saying that any one singular coaching clinic, once attended and the test passed, makes you a good coach.

That's right. Just going to a clinic, and passing the test, doesn't make you a good coach. It's what you do with that information moving forward that matters. It's how you continue your education that makes a difference. It's seeking out information and working with other coaches with more experience to help you grow professionally.

I'm a coach instructor for US Masters Swimming. I've had USAT level 1 coaches come up after a clinic and state how the session on writing workouts for differing energy systems was really helpful - that it wasn't covered enough in their Level 1 coaching clinic. That might be true, but the truth is you can't cover everything in granular detail in any one coaching clinic. I've had another individual tell me that the Masters coaching clinic was too easy and didn't cover everything in enough detail. Again, what are you doing with the information you learned? Are you taking the details of writing a workout for the anaerobic system and applying it to your athletes? Are you expanding upon the base premise of how those workouts are created, and making your own? Or better yet, are you taking that base level of information and seeking out more data to help you grow your knowledge base?

I've been a professional coach for 6 years. Do I know everything I need to know because I'm USA Triathlon, USA Cycling, USA Swimming / ASCA, and US Masters certified? Not even close. I am constantly learning. It never stops. Heck, most NGB's require that you continue to learn, and enhance your coaching education, to maintain your certification.

It's not all about what you learn in a clinic. It's what you do with the information that you learn.

Coaching Athletes & Training

On occasion, my US Masters swim club will have a light turnout at practice. It happens now and again, and is usually tied to people traveling for work or getting away for a few days - especially now during the summer. On those mornings when there's a smaller crew in the water, I'm inevitably asked "...where's your suit? You should get in and work out with us!"

No can do.

It doesn't matter if there are two people at practice, or 22. If I'm coaching, I need to be on deck. And I'm not speaking from a safety standpoint - but rather from a coaching standpoint. How can I make stroke corrections? How would I ensure drills are being done as they should be by each individual? How can I provide feedback to everyone? Those athletes are there to be coached, and I'd be remiss if I wasn't paying attention to each an every one of them.

I've had local athletes invite me to join in on one of their training rides - ".....to see if there's anything in the bike fit, or pedal stroke, or body position that might be off and in need of correction." Well, that's what bike fits are for. If I go on a ride with an athlete, I won't be paying 100% attention to the athlete. I'll be watching the road, or trail. Those kind of corrections are best done one on one, with the athlete on a bike trainer, and with me (the coach) 100% engaged.

As a coach, our training has to take a back seat.  It has to be done at odd times of the day when you have the ability to sneak in a swim, bike, or run. Or a day may come and go when you simply can't get in your planned workout.

Being a coach is all about coaching your athletes.

Aging, Training, and Recovery

As we get older, the body stops being as resilient as it used to be. Intensity may have to change in our training. Recovery becomes even more important than it already is. As a coach, this is a reminder that understanding how an athlete recovers is massively important. Knowing what they can recover from is the key. How much intensity that can be incorporated into a workout, with proper recovery, and a correctly built out week (with easy days, and recovery days placed appropriately) are all things that need to be taken into consideration.

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Training and Nutrition

As individuals are now deep into base-building, moving on to race specific training, or in some cases are already beginning their racing season, nutrition is an important topic that shouldn't be overlooked in regards to successful triathlon training.  Not just race-day nutrition.  But your overall nutritional plan.

I'm talking about properly fueling your body to train, recover, and race.  Triathlon training is not a diet.  Don't cut carbs.  Don't eat fewer calories that you're expending.

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End Of Year Giveaway

As 2014 comes to an end, we here at Podium Training Systems have been busy planning for 2015.  We have some great sponsor partnerships - both new and returning -  lined up for next year, and in celebration of this (and the spirit of the holiday season) we're holding an end of year giveaway.

All you need to do is sign up for the Podium Training mailing list by filling out the signup form below.  By doing so, you'll not only receive the monthly newsletter (which is always full of great information), but you'll be automatically entered in a drawing to win one of the below prizes:

  • Grand Prize: One semi-custom triathlon training plan (value $225)
  • First Prize: Amrita Nutrition gift pack. (T-shirt, water bottle, swim cap, sample bars)
  • Second Prize: Nuun Hydration gift pack. (Water bottle, Nuun samples)

All subscribers of the Podium Training mailing list are automatically entered to win. Winners will be chosen on January 1, 2015.  Winners will be chosen at random, and will be contacted via email with details on how to claim their prize.  The first and second prizes are limited to those in North America (sorry - shipping rates and all) but the grand prize is open to anyone!**

**Grand prize available only to those that are not currently Podium Training Systems athletes.

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