Friday, April 20, 2012

The Value of Coaching

I'm getting ready to leave for New Orleans....packing....checking my packing list....rechecking my bag to make sure I did pack the things marked off the list.  You know how it is.

As I am starting to "unravel" my mind is continually brought back to the words of Coach Eric in my first Olympic distance race, "relax".  I had just come off the bike and out of T2 for the run.  I was FREAKING OUT because although I had done MANY brick workouts, I hadn't done them after riding as hard as I just had (and this after swimming harder/longer than I ever had before).  Eric was right there at the "run out" lane, telling me to "relax".  His voice was so calm, cool and collected I think my heart rate instantly dropped about 20 beats!

A friend and fellow e3 Multisport tribemate, Gayle, said it best the other day on FaceBook:
People ask me all the time if what I pay for coaching is "worth" it. It's always hard for me to verbalize what I "get" besides a personalized training plan. I get someone to cheer me on or cheer me up or kick my butt! Someone to help me overcome my fears one climb, one interval, one workout at a time. Someone to help me tell the difference between time to push through the tiredness and time to rest.

After a year of self coaching 100yd swim = 2:08
After 9 months of pro coaching 100yd swim = 1:42 and still improving

In case you're wondering that translates to a 17 minute difference in an IM distance swim. The difference between coming out of the water in 1:30 feeling beat and 1:12 feeling great!! So yea it's soooo worth it:-)

The past couple of months have been difficult because of some health issues I've been having and without a coach to help keep me on track when I can't follow the plan I probably would have quit.

Thanks Eric Doehrman for helping me become a better swimmer, a more confident athlete and stronger person!!
I wish I could say my swim has improved to a 1:42...I'm not THERE, but I am swimming distances I never imagined would be possible for me.  My body is stronger than I even realize.  When I go to do a workout my mind is saying, "No way" but my body says "Let's roll, I got this!"  It's not until I'm done that my thoughts get on board (most of the time...other times my first thought is, "well that was a fluke, you can't/won't do it again!").

The real value in coaching for me is the training of my thought life.  When I ran McKay Hollow last month, I could hear Eric and Karen in my head telling me to "relax", telling me "hills are our friends...we love hills", telling me "it's a race, it's not going to feel good while you're doing it-that comes at the finish line", telling me to "let go and let God", telling me to "trust my training" (all my paraphrases of their words).

The hard part about trusting the training is the nagging thought of all the missed workouts and all the workouts I didn't give my all.  I think I would give myself a solid B- (a solid B if I were grading on a curve with the knowledge that NO ONE gives 100% in 100% of planned workouts).  All things considered over the last 4 months,  I'm happy with that.  The hard part for me is not thinking I've let my coach down by not being perfect, or that the improvements I've made won't be readily apparent.

The true value of a coach is not measured (solely) in the success rate of their athletes (as in reaching the podium or their swim/bike/run/transition times).  To me, it is most accurately measured in my rate of growth, the delta between where I was and where I am now, how far I've come with the addition of the coach's influence.  For some athletes that IS measured in terms of time.  Those athletes had a different starting point than I did!! 

I have had to learn to think, "I CAN DO THIS".  I've had to learn what my mom tried to teach me my whole life: "You can do anything you put your mind to."  It was the "putting my mind to it" that needed some help!  I know I'm not going to podium.  But I have NO doubts I WILL finish this race, and finish feeling STRONG, and THAT should be considered a WIN in my book. 

I have finally figured out what it means to "run my own race"--to go out and do the VERY BEST I CAN DO on race day under race day conditions...that's all I can do....and that's what I WILL do!..and THAT has been the value I've received in coaching.

Thanks for stopping in, come again soon.  :D

BTW, if you have an iPhone, you can download the IronTrac app to follow me on race day!!  I'll post my number in the comments below after I get my packet.  :D


  1. Fantastic Dana! We will be right there with you in spirit. Following you and encouraging you and believing in YOU. You can do it. We are there for you.

  2. Go get 'em honey. I KNOW YOU CAN DO IT! Luv u, Mama

  3. I'm number 257. Sounds like a fast number, huh?!


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