Tri Coach Tuesday: Maximizing the Coach-Athlete Relationship

The Coach/Athlete Relationship
How to Get the Most out of Your Coach

by Peter S. Alfino

Whether you have already hired a coach or are thinking of hiring a coach there are certain steps you can take to foster the Coach/Athlete relationship. Each coach has their own style and philosophies, but there are certain expectations an athlete should have when they hire a coach. Setting your expectations upfront is crucial in establishing a mutually beneficial working relationship.

At minimum you should ask the following questions during the selection process. How and when will my training plan be provided? What type of review process do you have in place? If I need to ask you a question what is the best manner in which to reach you? What are your pre and post race notification requirements? A good coach will explain their processes up front but this doesn’t exclude you from communicating your preferences. Following are some suggestions on how to make the most of your relationship with your coach.

Goals: 
Establish goals and benchmark sessions to measure progress along the way. This is a “given” and I won’t spend a lot of time on goal establishment. Discuss your race plan and ask for your coaches input. Ask what tests and criteria they use to establish fitness gains. At the end of the season how will you and your coach evaluate progress and success?

Timely and Open Communication:
The cooperation of both the athlete and coach is required if there is to be effective communication.

Coaches should provide workouts that are clear and concise. What are the duration, intensity, terrain and desired outcomes of your workout? What phase of training are you in and what purpose does your current block of training play in the annual training plan? How will you receive your workouts and when can you expect to have your plan for the upcoming week or months of training?

The athlete can foster the relationship by providing meaningful feedback on how they absorbed the workouts provided. In short, fill out your training logs in a timely manner and be thorough. “Completed” “done” “that was hard” tells your coach very little. Provide information on how you felt before, during and after the session. How did your body feel during the main set of the workout? What was your wattage? Heart rate? Pacing? What successes or obstacles did you encounter during the session? What was your mental state of mind? How did you sleep the night before? How has your diet been? The more relevant information you share, the easier it becomes for your coach to develop a plan with your fitness gains in mind.

The first step towards quality communication with your coach is to realize that you play a key role in fostering the relationship. Many times, important factors which influence performance are left unmentioned. Remember this is a business relationship. Coaches don’t want to play counselor. Share only information that impacts your training but don’t expect your coach to give you advice outside of the sport.

Trust:
When you make the decision to hire a coach you are putting your faith in their hands. There are different methods which lead to the finish line of any race. If you hire someone to drive “your bus” for the season then let them drive the bus. The internet, training partners and magazine articles can all provide distractions and plant a seed of doubt in your mind. Don’t give up on your training program before giving it adequate time to be evaluated. Don’t be afraid to ask your coach about different philosophies and methods. A good coach will be fair, firm and honest with you.

What to Expect from your Coach:
Realize that not every coach has all the answers. If they don’t have an answer then they should provide assistance on where to find the answer. Your coach has a life and don’t expect them to be available 365/24/7. Respect your coach’s time and ask them when it is acceptable to call for questions and what a reasonable response time should be when you contact them.

What can you do to foster the relationship?
If you don’t know something then ask? Coaches love to teach about the sport and like when athletes become life long students. Work hard and be consistent day in and day out. Coaches will work harder for athletes who work hard to achieve the goals established up front.

The dept of the coach/athlete relationship is formed when both parties have pre established goals and expectations and two way communication is established. Make the most of your coach by taking an active role.

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Tri Coach Tuesday: New Year, New Diet?

by Dina Griffin
The Nutrition Mechanic
Sport Dietitian / Registered Dietitian
www.nutritionmechanic.com

The word ‘diet’ has many different contexts. For example:

  • restriction: “I can’t eat XYZ foods.”
  • a type of pattern or cuisine: “I eat in line with the Mediterranean diet.”
  • fad/trend: “I’m starting the Grapefruit Diet to detox!”
  • clinical prescription: “My doctor prescribed an autoimmune diet for my thyroid condition.”

Aside from the new year hubbub that is filled with trendy diet pitches and 21-day diet challenges, have you wondered whether it is time to change up your dietary pattern to support your health and performance goals? Let me provide a few considerations to help you self-assess a bit further.

What is the “issue” you are trying to improve or solve?

Weight loss is on the minds of many athletes this time of the year in advance of big races and events planned for 2019. If this is you, then I recommend taking some time to reflect on where you’ve been in your diet hopping experience and where you are now with your food relationship. Often times, athletes jump to the latest and greatest diet fad without pondering their past or how food fits into their life currently.

It may be surprising to some, but much of the research shows that there are many kinds of diets that can work to promote weight loss. The keys are finding what is sustainable for you (to avoid the yo-yo trend of loss-gain-loss-gain-rinse-repeat), what is safe and optimal (in terms of supporting your needs as an athlete), and what your habits and behaviors are around food that need to be modified (I call this the “nitty gritty that no one likes to address”).

If weight loss is not your primary goal, perhaps it is another set of signs and symptoms that you are experiencing. For example:

  • poor exercise performance (feeling flat, can’t hit intensities, fade quickly into an aerobic session)
  • poor exercise recovery (soreness, achiness, unusual fatigue)
  • energy lulls, poor concentration during everyday living
  • gut issues such as bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea
  • sugar and/or caffeine cravings
    Maybe you just intuitively know that it is time for a change – you are now a masters athlete, there are midlife hormonal changes, or quite frankly, your diet is pretty subpar.

What do you know objectively about your signs and symptoms? For example, do you have recent athlete-specific blood work to reveal any deficiencies? Have you changed your nutrition relatively recently that could be a contributing (negative) factor? Have you had a professional assessment from a Sport Dietitian to piece apart all of the “inputs”?

As you can hopefully see, there are potentially many reasons to move forward with a change in your nutrition. Similarly, there are many layers that makes the decision process as to which kind of dietary pattern a more complicated process than simply mimicking what a friend or training partner does. It takes some time and effort to think through where you’ve been, where you are, and where you want to go… for both health and performance as they go hand in hand.

Food for thought and more to come!

TCT – Dave Scott’s 5 Tips for Better Indoor Cycling

As winter approaches in the Northern Hemisphere some athletes will spend most of their cycling time indoors. Often indoor cycling workouts turn into hammer sessions where athletes push themselves so hard that they forget about the importance of technique and form.

Here are my top 5 tips to ensure that you’re making the most of your indoor sessions.

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Tri Coach Tuesday: Get Ready for your Run

D3Multisport Coach Mike demonstrates three of his favorites exercises for  activating your muscles prior to a run.  This is an important step toward having a smooth, strong run.

Triathlon Minute, Episode 109 – 3 Run Activations from D3 Multisport on Vimeo.