Thursday, November 15, 2018

Coaching Myself: Part 1

I've kind of always wanted to try coaching myself. First of all, I am a coach, so in theory it makes sense that I should be able to coach myself. However, I've consistently had an underlying doubt in my ability to follow through with it, which is primarily because I'm a pain-in-the-ass athlete and coaching me seems like a task that someone should get paid to do. My second source of doubt stems from my ability to be extremely convincing, specifically about a belief that I've developed and thoroughly rationalized in my head to the point where I now consider it a fact. I hold certain beliefs about myself as an athlete, and my strengths and weaknesses, and I'm afraid that I'll hold myself back by getting so wrapped up in my own head.

To remedy this situation, once a week I'll meet with Ryan, who doesn't know much about triathlon coaching, but does know about all of my subconscious manipulative tendencies, and how to call me out on them. He'll look at me with this face, and I'll have no choice but to own up to my bullshit.

Yes, this photo is from our wedding... I guess he wanted to make sure I was serious about it.

The reason why I've recently turned a corner in my confidence in this endeavor is because I believe I've reached a level where:

1.) I've grown significantly as a person throughout my racing career, and I can at least acknowledge my personality flaws.

2.) I have enough coaching knowledge and experience to successfully coach such a challenging, pain-in-the-ass athlete.

Also, at this point in my career as an athlete, it feels like I have something to prove. I'm not sure what, or to whom I feel like I need to prove something, but it's an extremely motivating feeling so rather than questioning it, I'm just going to run with it (... and swim with it, and bike with it).

I'm only 1 week into this endeavor, and so far, I've been compliant to the plan. Since my minimum goal for myself is only to make it through February, I'm off to a great start. By that point, I'm sure I'll be losing my mind, but for now, I'm still at my baseline level of insanity.

Some of the things I'm working on are:

1.) Developing my aerobic fitness- I'm an extremely anaerobic athlete, even though I've been racing Ironmans for a few years now. I still burn primarily sugar even at low intensities, so I'm working on staying disciplined enough to focus on keeping my HR down, and staying slow and easy. (See Importance of Zone 1)

2.) Balancing my body and developing efficient muscle recruitment patterns- I'm already pretty in-tune with my body so I have some ideas of what I need to work on.

Side note: I've been reading a lot lately about the importance of strengthening your hip flexors rather than just stretching them to death. I'm guessing a lot of triathletes have tight hip flexors, given the position on our aero bikes. If you're stretching all the time, are you actually seeing results in your flexibility? Try strengthening them.

3.) Maximizing my swim technique- I'll be using an underwater camera to focus in on some minor details and then incorporating some swimming with a snorkel in order to focus on what I'm doing with my stroke.

I have plenty more to work on and I'll share those as I put more emphasis on them, but this is what I'm starting with.

Also, at the end of every week, I'm going to ask myself if I did my best that week. I'm going to answer that question as honestly as I can, and then track it week to week. Before every race, I think most athletes have a fear that they didn't do their best in training. You get to the point where you're tapering and you can't do anything else to build fitness and you're left alone with your doubts. You just have no way of knowing whether or not you did your best and you start questioning everything. That feeling is something I want to eliminate. One of the biggest goals that I have for myself and my athletes is to race without fear. I believe that that's the only way to ever reach your potential, and I'm hoping that tracking my best effort over time will help lead me to this goal.

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