Monday, November 9, 2009

Choosing my coach...

After discussing things with my wife, and making the decision, it became time to decide who I would recruit to help me on this journey, specifically, “who will coach me?” For some, this sounds like a crazy irony, because I myself am a coach. Shouldn’t I know everything I need to know in order to coach myself? Certainly I don’t lack the knowledge to coach myself, but I’m not ignorant to the fact I don’t know everything. I was able to coach myself to some incredible fitness in late 2008, with Joe Friel’s consulting, and even coached myself to the 2005 ITU World Age Group Championship for Men 25-29.

The problem is mostly objectivity that I tend to lack. Though I know myself, I know I can find it tough to stay objective and not fall to peer pressure in many of the decisions I have to make regarding training and racing. When I start to feel good, I tend to want to poor on the volume and intensity, and conversely, when I feel tired or bad, I want to back off way too much. The roller coaster was very taxing mentally and emotionally. Injuries would add to the mix, and I would be in dire straits.

I also would make decisions which in the past were based on things which weren’t important to me in the bigger picture, but I got caught up in short-term thinking. So after recognizing my weaknesses in my past training, I knew that I needed someone who simply could bring balance and structure to my training. I had to let someone else take the responsibility, and hold me responsible to it.

After coming to TrainingBible Coaching, I have become much more of a scientist, and really embrace technology and objectivity, to keep me balanced and my training more effective. I knew I needed a coach who would embrace science, even if it wasn’t in the same ways which I had in the past.

The coaches I have had in the past directly working with me have been Greg Welch, Cliff English, (briefly at the US Olympic Training Center), Peter Reid, and Joe Friel, which is an ALL-STAR cast! I knew my standards have been quite high, and that standard must be maintained.

Sometimes as a coach and athlete, we get stuck into thinking there is a specific routine to training, and we almost find ourselves in a rut, forgetting some of the things we’ve learned in the past, or even move away from experimentation in training. I have always searched for ways to do things better, and learn new things. As an Ironman-focused elite for the past few years, clearly my biggest weakness is speed and high-intensity. I needed a coach who would bring a different background of experience and perspective, to help me reach my goals for 2010 and beyond.

I always want to learn some new things to try with some of my athletes, and continue to provide a top level service to them, being a coach at the forefront of the industry. Certainly, a coach who would bring all these things to the table for me would help me not only as an athlete, but as a coach as well.

I had a short list of coaches, and did some research on them, and continued to ask myself again what was most important to me for learning, helping me become a better athlete, and advancing my career as a coach. I kept coming back to one name which I liked and provided me everything I was looking for, and then some. That name was Bob Seebohar.

Bob has been the nutritionist on staff with the US Olympic Training Center and the Florida Gators. He has successfully coached two of the top female ITU triathletes for the US, Sarah Haskins and Jasmine Onieck. Sarah went to the Olympics this year, and Jasmine won the US Elite Championship.

I will be his lone long course guy, but we will do some short-course racing as well, trying to do some different things and balancing the training for maximium performance preparation. Being his one guy in this arena is exciting and a great opportunity for me.

Bob has already taught me a lot, and I am looking forward to this relationship continuing for awhile. Should be exciting, stay tuned! My next post will be on my race schedule for 2010.


Monday, November 2, 2009

Meb on Letterman, doing the Top 10!

My buddy Meb Kflezighi, fresh off his win of the NYC Marathon, was on Letterman, helping with the Top 10. Funny stuff, check it out!


Sunday, November 1, 2009

With Apologies...

It is now a little less than 12 months ago that I left the sport of triathlon, as an elite. After DNFing with a bad virus at Ironman Arizona, feeling like I wasted months of preparation, I promised myself not to race in 2009, just so I could relieve some family stress, and actually bring in an income. I turned my focus to writing and coaching.

When I left teaching in 2005, it was because I loved the sport. I had sold my condo, and didn’t really have money worries. I never gave money a thought, I just knew that I loved training and racing. I had dreams to make the sport my life, and even though I left racing, I have shown that I have accomplished that. If you’ve picked up the November-December issue of Inside Triathlon magazine, then you might have read my column on the back page, “Asking Why”. It explains a lot of why I left the sport. It also explains how happy I am in my life, despite leaving racing.

There’s no question I miss racing. I never not-missed the racing, I’m too competitive of a person for that. What I had to ask myself was, is it worth it for the day in, day out grind of preparing to race? The saying, “The will to win is nothing compared to the will to prepare to win” is certainly the case. The mental and emotional demands of racing at such a high level take their toll, especially when doing your best means so much to you.

This past year off has done a lot for my perspective on training, life, racing and even what’s really important to me. My life was so out of balance. I had so much more to my life than racing, but I let my results control my happiness, rather than just let it be a supplemental aspect of my life.

At times, it was easy to get carried away with thinking I would just come back. At Ironman Wisconsin, I saw some things out on the run course, especially near the finish, which nearly brought me to tears. At Kona, I was in tears the morning of the race. I held back though, realizing those moments weren’t the key to a decision, it would be everyday after that moment which would really tell me how much I wanted to return to racing.

So many days I’ve enjoyed the fact that I don’t have to get on the bike and put in HOURS and HOURS on it. So many times I’ve enjoyed knowing that my biggest responsibilities to the day are just to my clients and what I want to do to advance the sport as a coach and writer.

Of course, there came a point where I hit 203 pounds on the scale, and I realized that was too much. That was 42 lbs more than my lightest from October last year, of 161. Suddenly, my self-esteem was starting to be affected, and just like earlier, I was out of balance again. I started running again, and dropped to 194 consistently. And even today I woke up at 192.

I began to realize racing gave me structure to my day, to my life, to my schedule, to my priorities. Not to mention satisfaction.

So after much deliberation, conversations with Orlanda, sponsor searching, and coach searching, I have made a decision. I will return to racing in 2010. With apologies to LL Cool J, don’t call it a comeback. This is not a comeback in a traditional sense. I call it more of a “rebirth” in the sport.

My year off has done a lot to teach me how to be a better athlete. It’s given me better perspective, and a level head. It’s recharged me, and helped my family. It is with this as my big advantage that I will be “reborn” in the sport and racing. I will not be racing for money. I will not choose my races based on prize money. I will not choose my goals based on what will bring the most income. I will instead race for love of the sport. I will not focus on series, or on what others think I should do. I will choose to race based on what brings me the satisfaction I want at the end of the day.

I refuse to make the same mistakes I made from 2005-2008, which drove me out of the sport. Instead, I will be smarter and use my biggest strengths more advantageously. I will surround myself with positive people. I will not chase sponsorships and waste my energy on that stuff. I will simply work with those who want to be a part of the great things I have going on, (my racing, TriJuniors, my coaching, etc).

So ironically, in the month I write in Inside Triathlon magazine how I left the sport, I announce my return. I am happy about this, because there is still plenty I feel I have left to accomplish in the sport.

On Monday, November 2nd, I begin training officially under my new coach. Who is my new coach? I will divulge that in my next post, and why I chose him. I will also discuss my race schedule, and what sponsors are currently on board with me.

Stay tuned…