I’ve been coached for a long time. It’s made me a much more committed athlete, but beginning to coach other people was a big turning point in getting the most out of my training. When you’re following a plan, the gains materialise slowly. The fitness creeps up, along with a creeping doubt that the plan is working. Or that a different plan might be better. Or that skipping one session won’t hurt your race performance in three months from now.
When I started coaching three years ago, all that changed. I saw every side of the equation. I saw the committed athlete that had done their workout before I’d even got up. Crushed every interval, done their cool down, uploaded their file and got to work before I’d even made a cup of tea. Sobering.
I saw the opposite. I saw one skipped workout turn into extra fatigue when a workout did happen. And the extra recovery needed to get over the sessions that did happen. I saw the slow accumulation of small indisciplines accumulate into missed goals. Poor results and low motivation often followed.
Training is a lonely endeavour. There are february mornings where the crucifying decision between jumping on the trainer and bundling up to ride outside is too much to take. First world problems you say? Try holding that perspective when it’s you that’s getting on the trainer. Seeing your athletes get out and do it gives you no excuse when it’s your turn.
When you’re a coach yourself, you see what work people are willing to do, and the individual variety that skews that dreamy periodisation into what we actually end up doing. The bursts of drive that turn to weeks of staleness. I see now how a couple missed sessions one week could turn into too much riding the next. I see now how those unplanned big weeks of riding turned into a head cold the next week.
This year I coached some amazing people. A rider stretched themselves and their motivation to the limit to achieve a huge dream of top 10 at Collegiate National Championships. An experienced Master’s racer threw all he knew out the window to follow my intensity driven plan – and succeeded in winning the Rocky Mountain Endurance Series. I had a brand new rider aim for a 10 hour Leadville finish, and blow us both away with a time close to 8 hours instead.
All it took was plain old boring consistency. Knowing that consistency is all it takes is a great feeling going into the winter when time abounds, but motivation can wane. Stick with it and it will pay off.