Monday, August 24, 2009

9 Weeks Till GF

And I am NOT freaking out. I am NOT freaking out. I am NOT freaking out.

But maybe I should be?

I mean, a little fear is healthy, right? 140.6 miles is a long ways to go, right? The Great Floridian (GF) is a race that most locals avoid, right? And to do another iron tri two weeks later is just plain nuts, right?

RIGHT???

Well, I don't seem to know what's right any more and I blame my coach. I think he's been slipping some delusional drugs into my recovery drink to keep me calm and lacing my workout routes with subliminal messages telling me that I was born to do ironmans and that two are better than one (born to do ironmans, two are better than one ...)

No, just kidding!!

But what he has done with me since February has been pretty remarkable. At the start of this year, I felt old and broken down with frustrating, lingering hamstring issues (from back in July 08) that were hampering my running, right arm/shoulder pains that were bothering my swimming, and haunting memories from a bike crash in Feb 08 that were still making me ride like a little old lady going down hills and around corners. Where's my little basket and cane?

Now 7 months after working with him, though, I'm feeling good and very positive about my racing again. I'm nearly as fast (or maybe faster?) as I used to be when I was in my best running shape, late 2005-early 2006, and now I'm running only 2-3 days per week (20-30 MPW). I'm swimming better than I ever have and pain-free most of the time. And my cycling, well, 98 miles yesterday never felt so easy. I averaged 17.8 mph for the first 70 miles with Dave and another guy, then rode harder on my own for the rest (per Coach that was OK) and ended up with an 18.1 mph avg and plenty left over in the tank to do more -- YES! That's the best I've ever felt after riding ~100 miles.

This post is basically to answer some questions that Meg Runs had asked me about coaching, which I think has been key for me this year.

Do you have a tri coach?
Yes. I've worked with a running coach and a tri coach in a group training setting before but this is the first time I've worked one-on-one with a coach who's designing a training program just for me, a HUGE difference.

How has that helped you with your training overall?
As I mentioned above, Coach has fixed me up and gotten me strong again. He did this by getting me back to strength training & stretching regularly and also by having me cut back on volume (Gasp!) and do more speed work (Yikes!), all things I was reluctant to do on my own. What I also love about having a coach is having more time and less worry. I spend ZERO time figuring out my training (that's his job) and just do what he tells me. And he doesn't usually give me my workouts more than a week in advance so I can't fret about what I don't know and can only focus on the current week at hand (which is good because am the Master of Putting Extra Unnecessary Stress on Myself!). I completely trust* that he will get me to race day in shape to meet my goals so I actually don't worry much about the race any more either. But, to make this work, I have to do and track my workouts diligently (miles, paces, conditions, how I felt, etc.), and my nutrition too as they go hand in hand for me. All the logging is sort of a pain but I have to say that this coaching has worked out much better than I could have ever imagined and it's nice to be able to see progress outside of race results (particularly when training more than racing for a change).

*This trust is something that has evolved over time. I'm actually a control freak by nature and had a hard time initially letting go of control over my workouts. But I made substantially more progress in 2-3 months working with Coach than I had in 6 months to a year on my own so I learned to let go.

Do you recommend specific running coaches or is this someone that lives near you?
Coach Bill does live in my area but our communication is largely via an online interactive training log and email. IMHO, choosing the right coach is much like choosing the right haircut. It's highly individual and very much dependent on your personality and needs. I talked to 5 different coaches last year. Three of them were referred to me from others and they coached everyday athletes as well as pro and elite level triathletes. One coach I worked with for a while via the local tri club and Coach Bill actually found me, I think, through a local bike e-newsletter in which I was mentioned. Whatever the case, it turned out Coach Bill and I got along the best, by far. He's a strong runner and has also done some crazy ultra events himself so my desire to do two irons in two weeks didn't faze him. He's very responsive by email (my preferred communication) and didn't put any limits on how many times I could contact him like some did. He also wasn't going to charge me an arm and a leg or make me buy a bunch of training gadgets to get started. I'm old-school at heart and often forget to bring/wear gadgets or look at them if I do!

For anyone interested in or on the fence about looking for a coach, I'd suggest also reading DC Rainmaker's Thoughts on Triathlon Coaching. Many of the points he makes I agree with and I think they'd apply to any coach, really, not just a triathlon coach.

Hope everyone's training is going well!

30 comments:

X-Country2 said...

I'd love to be hard core enough to get a coach some day! Sounds like you found a GREAT one.

Molly said...

You are going to be so ready!!! So glad your coach is the right fit for you - I can't wait to watch you finish this journey, just a few weeks before my turn :)

Lisa Slow-n-Steady said...

It's exciting following along on your journey. Glad the coaching has helped you out so much!

jen said...

You are clearly in the best shape ever (that long fast ride blows my mind!) and the coach definitely deserves some credit. What a team! Keep up the great work!

Meg Runs said...

Thanks Shirley, you answer each and every one of my questions. I really appreciate it!

Keep up the great training, sounds like you're getting ready and please...don't freak out!
meg

Marlene said...

I think if I ever venture into the crazy tri world, I would need a coach. I have a hard enough time juggling one disclipline. I wouldn't know where to begin. Thanks for the awesome info.

You are strong and I can't wait to read about the races you've been working so hard for!

DaveP said...

Glad it is working out. Next year with all the marathons and halfs is going to be more challenging.

Jenny Davidson said...

Great post, Shirley. It has been a real pleasure following along as your training goes so well this year!

Kevin said...

Sounds like you are going to be well prepared to do awesome in both races

Kevin said...

Curious on the strength training. Is it functional triathlon specific, or do you do some sort of whole body training?

I have been so back and forth on strength training

Missy said...

I lurve my coach!!! He's da bomb. I am ALSO on a decreased volume, higher intensity type plan. Hell, for ironman, my long run was 17ish miles and never a bit more. Trying to build on that base from last year.

You IS crazy gurl.

Maria said...

um...holy cow...2 in 2? Those should be some interesting race reports...I have no doubt you'll succeed, but I'm sure your recovery after the second will be painful/nice.

Mel-2nd Chances said...

Thank you so much for posting this! I have been tossing around the idea of getting a coach, not because i'm looking at doing an Ironman, or that I'm as hardcore as you... but I'm absolutely loving this tri training, and want to get the most out of it. This answered a lot of the questions I had, so thanks!!

Wendy said...

No Freaking Out!!! ;-)

When the right coach-athlete relationship is in place, it is a fine thing. I'm so glad you found a coach that you can rely on!

Regina said...

You are going to be awesome in both races I suspect. You are clearly being well trained. Thanks for posting the Q&A.

What did you do for your sore shoulder?

Continued good luck with your training.

ShirleyPerly said...

Thanks all for your encouragement!

Kevin: My strength training routine is basically whole body with light-moderate weights. I'd say it took me 4-6 wks to really notice the difference.

Regina: For the shoulder, light weights only doing shoulder raises (front/lateral as well as some push-ups). Some tweaks to my swim stroke to avoid aggravating it also helped.

Rainmaker said...

Thanks for the shout-out. I completely agree with everything you've noted - picking a coach is a really personal decision that should be carefully gone about. Seems like you've nailed it!

lindsay said...

i have been on the fence about possibly getting a running coach... outside of getting over the cost of it (i can afford it, but i'm cheap! lol) i am pretty sure i'd have the same "control" issue you are overcoming. i'm also pretty good at PEUSOM :) ahh what to do what to do. thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences!

ok now 2 triathlons in 2 weeks... INSANE! but get it girl :) you can do it!

Sherry said...

Shirley, you are going to rock it out! I just know that you are! Very, very excited for you!

I agree with all of your assessments regarding coaching. I was rittled with injuries, aches and pains last year as I tried to 'self coach'. This year, despite an increase in volume and intensity, not one injury! Nothing to complain about at all. Amazing!

Gotta Run..Gotta Ride said...

Having a coach that fits your goals and knows how to drive you is priceless!

This is YOUR year.

aron said...

YOU are going to do AMAZING!!!!

SwimCoachFinder said...

Thanks for explaining the difference between one on one coaching and group coaching! Great question and answer piece!

Rural Girl said...

You are doing 2 140.6'ers in 2 weeks?! Now, you are my idol!! Nice answers on the coaching questions.

Susan said...

You're rocking and rolling, Shirley!

I have to say, having a coach (through Team Point Two) that was fairly unknown to me (as opposed to the fabulous Planet3rry who has always created training plans for me) has been good. I want to ring his neck at times, but he has really pushed me. I can definitely see an improvement over the past few months!

jeanne said...

awesome. you're totally inspiring me!

EndorphinBuzz said...

You were probably born to do ironmans and two are most definitively better than one :)

Thanks for the feedback re: coaching. I think that my future has a coach in it if I keep going for higher and better goals.

Road Warrior said...

Seems like adding Coach has taken you to completely new levels. Your marathon times have been great and you're riding like you never had to stop.

I can't wait to see you absolutely rock the ironman.

Vickie said...

Very good info and personal recommendation. I waffled on the coach idea also mainly not knowing who to trust. I'll keep in mind for the future.

peter said...

Wonderful post, Shirley. If I ever get the urge to do tris, I'll take your (and Rainmaker's) suggestions to heart. It's great to be at the height of good. solid training, isn't it?

Runner Leana said...

Shirley, you really have improved leaps and bounds! That is terrific that coaching has worked out so well for you. You made some really great points about coaching. I can't believe there are ones out there that restrict how often you can communicate with them? Working with my coach has been an amazing experience since not only do I get her support, but the support from her team too. I couldn't imagine doing this any other way!