Year in the life of the coach…

A year can be a long time – and yet feel like no time at all! In mid August, I celebrated having had Tri Coaching as a company for a year, and now having done only the third race myself in that time I thought I’d look back on it.

This time last year I was working full time – for bike distributor Velotech – and doing the coaching on the side. From there it gave me a stable point to grow my client base; I’m extremely grateful for the help people have given me in promoting our services here and passing on recommendations. Since March I’ve been able to coach full time across all the services that I offer. It hasn’t been an easy journey, but with 14 athletes now on rolling coaching plans, and new people coming for swim and run lessons on a weekly basis, this gives me a point to say a massive thank you for the support. Also this gives me the chance to build up the services and knowledge that I can offer to everyone! It seems that my swim and run blogs on a Tuesday and Friday have gone down well – and long may they continue… I’m constantly looking for new things to add, so if anyone has any particular questions do give us a shout!

Racing has taken a slightly different trajectory to the coaching aspect – but I think it’s important to share. Not only my results, but also the experiences that I have learnt from, and what I can pass on. This time last year I had just started building training back up having finished 5th in age at the Euro Age Group standard distance tri in Turkey and then missing out on the Worlds in London but a small amount. Having a break was great, it gave me a chance to recover mentally and just get back to enjoying training. Unfortunately I rolled my ankle in a local 5km race pretty badly – it was the first time I’ve done that and with some serious ligament and tendon damage I wasn’t able to run until after Christmas. Even cycling and swimming were painful so it meant that I wasn’t doing much of my own training while I was preparing everyone else for their assault on 2014! Slightly frustrating, but gave me the time and energy to work on Tri Coaching.

Heading through the February and March I was pain free and starting to train again – but in doing what I try to stop my athletes from doing, managed to give myself a minor stress fracture in my shin in April – racing my warm up event at Burnham, a super sprint caused a lot of pain and soreness. Unfortunately this stress fracture wasn’t really diagnosed until the summer – but with the soreness and pain, I didn’t run for yet more time! I cancelled entries to events at Dorney and Ellesmere Port, and focussed on trying to race well at the Euros in Austria. After things going so well in 2013 for me, Austria wasn’t quite the same success. Vomitting twice on the bike with my HR sky high was a low point, and after that just getting round felt like an achievement. Needless to say it wasn’t quite what I’d hoped for, however given the lack of real preparation it wasn’t a major surprise.

Post Austria called for a stress and guilt free relax from training, heal up mentally and physically and the last 6 weeks I’ve had fun with training. Pain free and smiling, training when I want to, I entered Warwick triathlon in Stratford upon Avon this weekend just to enjoy a race. The swim was great, even if it was short. The bike was ok (on my commuter, after some mechanical issues with my race bike), and I smiled and was pain free on the run. Not the fastest but it really didn’t matter. It was so nice to see may people new to triathlon smiling and enjoying races, high 5ing people and waving. It certainly reminded me why I do triathlons, and why I race.

So what have I learnt this year?

– Do what your coach tells you! I’ve spent a lot of this year reassuring athletes that they don’t need to do more, and that it doesn’t matter that they are missing sessions etc, only to start running too hard and too much and cause myself another needless injury.

– Race for enjoyment. We aren’t pros, our livelihoods don’t depend on our races. If you don’t hit your targets, it’s not the end of the world. Review it, work out what went wrong for sure. But remember why you started racing in the first place.

– There is more to life than sport. Time out to recover and relax has helped me build my business. I’ve also seen my girlfriend struggle with an invisible but occasionally debilitating illness and yet still be one of the happiest and most positive people I know – read her blog here.

I have been really lucky to have had all different sorts of success stories across the board with my clients this year. From Rich, Louise, Liz and Kathryn learning to swim from the start, to Tim Lewis doing his first triathlon at Wimbleball and following up with IM Wales. Sam King has gotten over some real knee niggles and issues to run pain free now. Ash and Rita qualifying and then smashing it at the World Age Groups in Canada and Andy Lewis having storming successes on the ITU Para Tri circuit. 2014 has been an exciting year for me and I hope I can deliver for you guys into 2015.

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