Monday, July 2, 2012

Why Use A Coach?

I find it very likely that, if I were to approach a selection of endurance enthusiasts in the Pacific Northwest to ask them if they ever considered having a private coach, the majority of them would answer a very humble "no". There is a preconception that coaches are for high school football teams and elite athletes, and that the rest of the athletic population must go it alone. Maybe I'm being overly critical but if this is indeed the case, there are countless hard-working athletes out there who are going in circles with their training, not knowing that there's another way.

A coach doesn't have to be the stereotype you see in sports biopics, the guy holding the stopwatch in one hand and beer in the other as he waits at the top of the sand dune for you to haul your tired ass to the top for the eleventieth time. Granted, some coaches are like that; I think my coach takes a special pleasure in designing workouts that brings me close to vomiting. But that hard-driving coach ethic should take a distant second chair to the most important role a coach can fill: supporter.

My coach Scott testing my blood lactate during a workout
A coach provides a sounding board for the athlete. Just as people seek psychiatrists to talk through their emotional woes, a coach's role may be as basic as listening and offering suggestions for someone's running schedule. I know plenty of athletes who meet in person with their coach maybe three times per month; they can do this because they've established the relationship, the coach knows their strengths and weaknesses and they construct training accordingly. The most important part is communication.

A coach is above all else an objective voice. None of us like to hear our girlfriend/boyfriend or spouse telling us to get our duff off the couch and out the door to run; it's too personal and the relationship gets confused. But a coach can do just that. He/she can also be the one to listen to how you're feeling and offer a suggestion or opinion that is distanced from your personal feelings. This part is crucial to athletic success at any level. Especially for more recreational athletes who feel that the only way they can get fit amidst their busy schedule is to hammer intervals up a hill for thirty minutes three times per week, a coach can sit them down and say, "Hey, that's pretty dumb training. I know this because I've done it/watched others do it/seen how tired it makes you." They see what our blinders keep us from seeing ourselves.

Alison getting monitored during a treadmill test. 

Both Alison and I offer coaching as we ourselves would want it. Much of our coaching style is modeled off our own coach (we both work with the same person), and emphasizes close communication, innovative training that is tailored to the athlete, and careful monitoring of nutrition and health.

Everyone can benefit from a coach. Check out our coaching services pages above for more info on how you can take huge strides forward in your efforts, whether you're a first-time 10km runner, a wave three Birke skier, or a seasoned vet looking to shave minutes off your 50km PR.

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