Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Importance of Good Coaching

Coaching has an enormously important role in producing and sustaining great athletes.  I do know some top athletes that coach themselves to remarkable performances but then will level off and will need the guidance of a good coach to help get them 'unstuck.'  I believe many top athletes have the intuition to get them to the next level but rarely follow through.  For instance, it is far easier to work hard day in and day out and avoid the recovery sessions.  Because as the type-A athlete you think: hard work makes me faster, no work makes me a lazy lump on a log.  When in reality the recovery (rest and relaxation and food!) is what will ultimatley make you stronger.  Training makes you weaker, recovery makes you stronger.  Most often the difference between top level athletes and the ones just below this level is the quality of their recovery.  A good coach has the ability to take a critical look at the athletes workload and either say: "Rest!" or "Get your butt off the sofa!"   

For the athlete-coach relationship to work a few things need to be happening.  The athlete needs to want to make themselves coachable, both athlete and coach are committed to specific important goals and the athlete is dedicated to learning through disciplined practice and repetition.

My coach has helped me develop my capacity to think about racing and training in a very different and refreshing way.  For instance, I am thinking of aerodynamics and 'whats' (or is it Watts?) on the bike with an entirely new perspective. ;)  I didn't even know what a Watt was until last year!  And forget aeordynamics on the bike. You mean wearing an extra large wind blocking jacket won't make you faster? No Amber, it will most likely act like a speed stealing parachute. Doh!   

The athlete will most often get the credit for top performances but it is without a doubt the great coach behind that athlete that is responsible.

No matter how much you think you know, even coaches need coaches:) That's why despite the fact that I coach myself, I opt to also be coached. After all you cannot analyse(not easily at least) your own swim technique or form. That's why I recommend everyone be coached or at least have a consultation with a coach to make sure there are no glaring deficits.

Okay, that's it for now. 

Happy Training!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Oceanside 70.3 Race Report and Why I love This Sport

I entered this race weekend with so much positive energy and momentum and left feeling stronger then ever!  This particular race experience was extra special because I was there with my husband (who also doubles as my best travel buddy), my dad, and my new ZOOT team!

The weekend began with Dan and I checking out the beautiful San Diego views, taste testing some of Karl Strauss' best IPA and meeting our wonderful homestay host Jim Johnson.  We had a wonderful time getting to know Jim and his girlfriend PJ and enjoyed a tasty night at Norte's Restaurant.

Race morning came quickly and before I knew it I was squeezing into my SUPER FAST prophet wetsuit (  As soon as my toes hit the freezing water I knew it was going to be a good day.  I love cold water! Nothing like a little ice cream headache to get the adrenaline flowing.  I jumped in, swam straight to the front of the pack and took a deep breath.  Just moments before the gun went off two sea lions swam right in front of the start line. Is that a sea monster someone shouted? And we were off!  

Why I love this sport reason #1: It teaches you to never ever give up.

I made lot's of mistakes during this swim. As demonstrated by the picture below I somehow decided it would be smart to chase down the top three girls halfway into the race. Just as I was feeling so proud of myself for being a go-getter everything changed. The ocean apparently had other plans as it swooped me up in a swell and before I knew it I was not chasing down anyone but getting chased down. I had managed to land belly down on two of the girls behind me while simultaneously sucking in a mouthful and noseful of ocean and spending the next 30 seconds fearing that I might actually get eaten by a one of those sea lions.  I made a decision at that moment that I had a job to do that involved not being in the belly of the sea lion but instead to never ever give up, no matter what.  Never quit. Never give up.  
I put my head down and focused until my feet hit T1. Now it was time for a little ride on my Felt DA. 
What I love this sport reason #2: Hard Work Pays Off

Below is a picture that my Dad snapped of me at about mile 25 of the bike. You can't see anything but posterior (sorry!) but I promise you I had the biggest smile on my face. Why you ask? Well at that point in the race I had actually passed a few of the female professionals and I had not been overtaken by anyone! Biking has been the weakest link since I started the sport a few years ago. This winter was a long one on the trainer: but hard work always, always pays off. Growing up, if someone told me I couldn't do something I would make that something my passion until I accomplished it.  If I was terrible at something I would put my head down and work until I was on top.  The bike course was raining and cold and sprinkled with hills.  For most of the ride it was just me and the power meter but I was happy as a clam. There is still lots work to be done as far as bike training goes and I am looking forward to every bit of it.

On to the run! My favorite part in my favorite Zoot shoes. My legs felt great after the bike and it was so energizing to see all my Zoot teammates on the course having great races.

Why I Love This Sport Reason #3: It allows you to appreciate the little things.

Racing Ironman hurts! You appreciate that plastic chair you collapse into at the finish line.  The first bite of anything other than an energy gel tastes DELECTABLE! A hot shower is the best hot shower you have ever taken.  The hug from my dad and my husband has never felt so uplifting.

Above is me sprinting to 9th place at Oceanside. I will take it.

See you at New Orleans 70.3! In the mean time: never give up, work hard and appreciate the little things.

Thank you to my wonderful husband and family, my coach (Kurt!) and the best sponsors anyone could as for:

Zoot, Garmin, GU, Fuelbelt, Spy, Myles Chase of MC cycles, Tribike transport and PR Bar.