After being self coached for many years, I’ve recently started working with a coach.
I’ve been involved in triathlon for over 20 years. Initially I began with a beginner’s group. As part of that group, there were organised sessions – swim, bike and run. From there I progressed to a swim squad, and some organised ride sessions. From there, I moved to working with a coach, and had a couple of years working with a few different coaches across short course racing, and then I think I stopped racing for a bit, so coaching fell off. When I decided to do ironman, an ironman friend offered to write my program for me. I worked with him for the first 2 ironmans in 1998, 1999, then I stopped training / racing for a couple of years. In 2002 I returned to ironman again, and this time, opted to write my own programs. I had recently attended a weekend training workshop, so felt I had had enough information to write my own program.
I did my own ride and run programing for 3 ironmans and swam with a swim squad. Forster 2002 (10:27 and PB and qualified for Hawaii), Hawaii, and then Forster 2003. After 2003 I stopped training and took a lengthy break. When I got back into training again in 2012, I started back with running – and it was really just about getting out there to get fitness back. When I decided to do some triathlons at the beginning of 2012, I loosely followed a free program via Beginner Triathlete. I then followed a Half Marathon program from Beginner Triathlete and recorded a half marathon PB (1:39).
I soon decided I wanted to get back to longer course racing, and purchased an online half ironman program. Admittedly it was my first half ironman in nearly 10 years, and I had only really prepared for about 4 months, but it wasn’t a good race for me. My bike was slow, and I fell apart on the run – walking a large proportion of it. I finished in 6:14. It was a disappointing race for me, and in the days following I decided that the program I had been following perhaps hadn’t been working for me. It seemed to lack the race pace efforts and harder efforts that work well for me.
I decided to have a crack at another half ironman race that season, and entered Geelong (Feb 2013), this time deciding to write my own program. I went back to what had worked for me during ironman training and altered it to suit half ironman distance. With minimal time available, I focused on shorter, but harder sessions, with race pacing a key component of my long rides and long runs. 12 weeks later, I raced Geelong and knocked over an hour off my time from Shepparton, finishing in 5:07 I backed it up 5 weeks later with Portarlington long course, where, in tough race conditions, I recorded another great race.
I continued writing my own program for the next year or so, taking me up to Shepparton 2013 and 2014. I did 2 marathons in 2014, and followed the Run Less Run Faster program. On and off I considered getting a triathlon coach, but resisted for a number of reasons.
- I like the challenge of writing my own programs.
- I enjoy reading about ideas and tweaking them to suit me.
- My self motivation levels are high, so it wasn’t hard to stick to a program.
- I knew myself the best, and felt it was easy to write a program that I could manage.
- It didn’t cost me any money.
- It seemed to be working.
After the Melbourne Marathon in October 2014, I started to rethink things. I was starting to feel that I was flying a bit blind. I was doing ok when everything was going to plan, but when dealing with a ‘not to schedule’ situation like trying to recover from a marathon, a sore leg post marathon, and prepare for a half ironman, I really didn’t have a clue. I was working largely on what I’d been advised on years ago, but was starting to get a bit confused with other information in the google world. I wanted to see if I could step things up a notch, and I didn’t feel that I had the ability to do that on my own.
I started looking more seriously into coaching options, looking at purchasing programs, or working with a coach. I had won some prize money at Hazelwood Hardman, so felt putting this towards coaching could be a worthwhile use of the winnings (despite my husband protesting that I’d effectively spent it in advance on race entries, new Garmin, running gear etc!).
So just before Shepparton I started working with an online coach. I was very clear in my initial enquiries that I had limited time to train, but wasn’t afraid of hard work, or getting up early. I was pleased to receive a response back advising this could be accommodated. My coach took over my recovery / preparation for Shepparton post marathon. Together we worked on a race nutrition plan, tweaking what I’ve done previously, and he outlined a race plan for me. These things alone seemed to help me on race day, and I recorded a post kids PB on 5:01. I think there was an element of me wanting to prove that I was worthy of having a coach, and was going to ensure that I gave it my best shot.
Initially I felt as if I was taking a bit of a deep breath sending through the required information to get started, and then providing regular feedback about my training. But, I’m into the swing of things now, getting through some tougher sessions, and looking forward to getting my half ironman time down – hopefully at Challenge Melbourne in February 2015.