After several years of coaching (and being coached) I would like to share with you my coaching philosophy – what I think makes a good coach, and how I try to be the best cycling coach I can be:
A coach helps see things you can’t see yourself.Â The Human brain is better than a computer at recognizing patterns. A good coach can see the patterns in your training that you cannot see. Â How does a particular block of workouts leave your fitness, your desire, and your confidence? How do different amounts of sleep and different types of food affect your recovery? Â Keeping a training log and having a coach are the most important steps to illuminating those patterns. Â Sometimes it is so easy to see in others what they don’t see, and hopefully, as a coach, I have earned your trust to be able to tell you what I see.
A coach gives you a steeper learning curve.Â I spend hours reading and talking about every aspect of cycling. Â I’m probably getting close to Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hour mark when it comes to being a cyclist. Â The athletes that I help are generally are relying on my expertise in one or more areas to supplement their own knowledge. Â Once you have such a great store of experience you can access key ideas in training, racing, diet, etc. that a beginner would never think of. Â Without a coach, you would would have to learn the hard way that it is a good idea to warm up properly before a race or to bring an extra set of shoes or that a wind vest is the most life-saving piece of clothing, or a million other things that I can’t think of right now but I will anytime you need them.
A coach will be your friend and ally.Â Your coach always wants the best for you. Â Sometimes it is hard for a coach to not be too emotionally invested in the performance of the athlete. Â Just like many parents have probably realized, its a balancing act between helping someone find their path, and letting them do it on their own. However, You can count on your coach to alway be thinking about your best interests both as an athlete and individual. I think it is easy to start as a coach as a fun, nice, and interesting person. Having your coach be a friend opens the channels of communication and makes the whole process more fluid.
A coach helps you make good decisions. Â This can be deciding whether to do an extra workout, take some time off, or whether to take a trip or a certain college course. Â The role of a cycling coach extends partially into the realm of the life coach when it comes to aspects of life that can affect performance. Â I find it really fun when I get to discuss broader life decisions because I get to apply my coaching thinking process to a different challenge.Â Listening is one of the most important parts of what I do. Â All the listening boils down to is allowing me to fill the role in your life you have hired me to do (this often has undefined breadth and depth).
A Coach will give his or her best recommendation. My role as a coach is to figure out what workouts to recommend to you that will hep you take a step forward given your current location and direction. Â However, I am not you, and you are the one that know you best. The athlete makes the final call on whether to do the workout, and is the best judge on whether it is the right workout that day.
What I like in a coach: A coach is a motivator, storyteller, listener, has street cred, will be honest and optimistic (a hard balance sometimes), will be available, is patient, expects nothing less than your full effort and commitment when you say you are going to give it, gets results, is fun to be around or talk to when you are not working out, inspires confidence in their plan for you, shows they care about you, and is full of little bits of wisdom that help you from time to time.
No one day of training makes the difference. Â Add up all the days that you have worked out in the last year and you will have an idea of how you are doing. Â If you did those workouts with focus and with intention, even better. Â We apply basic principles of training to attempt to induce changes in our physiology that will help us be faster and stronger. Â Those changes happen both quickly (over a couple weeks) and slowly (over decades). Â I want you to be able to stay passionate about getting out the door and putting time into something you love. Â This long term equation means you might still be cycling when you are 75, and by then most of the other competitors will have retired, and you can be national champion!
The Coach-Athlete relationship is finite.Â If I coach you, I’m sure I will enjoy it, and come to really like you as a person. Â However, I realize that even with the most long term athlete-coach relationships, they may eventually end. Â This can be a sign that the athlete has reached the edge of the benefit from the coaching, or just from retirement of the athlete, or financial limitations, etc. Â Discussing yearly or more often the state of the relationship going forward can make sure that both parties find it valuable.
Balance cycling with the rest of life. My goal for my athletes is happiness and satisfaction with their cycling lives and lives as a whole. Â This can only be achieved by considering the full balance of life. Â What you are passionate about, what makes a difference to you and others, what keeps you going strong. Â Cycling can provide many of the keys to a good life, but it can’t be everything. Approaching sport within a context, an idea of why you are doing it, will allow you to commit to your goals, and when you must compromise. What role does cycling fill for you?
Do you have a favorite coach? Â What made that coach stand out for you? Â Leave a comment below!