I recently had an athlete complete his first Ironman. He is 18 and was the youngest competitor at IM Zurich. You can read his story hear http://www.edinburgh3.com/andrews-ironman-switzerland/ and it is worth doing so in relation to this post.
Lots of people have great ambitions in what they would like to do and achieve. One of my favourite phrases is “If your dreams aren’t scary they’re not big enough”
Every so often we start to turn those dreams into reality and goals and then realise we are not quite sure how to get there. Indecision then costs time and motivation can dwindle. This is where a coach can help you.
The coach can quickly get you a plan in place that you will feel accountable to. They will give you that motivation to go out and do the sessions you need. You will hopefully feel you are progressing continually over time which will keep the intrinsic motivation going.
Ultimately the coach will get you through to your ‘A’ race where you can then perform to the best of your ability. For many people they have invested a lot of money in entering and going to an event, time and commitment. The cost of a coach to make your dream a reality is small compared to the cost of failing, particularly as for many of us it becomes unfinished business and we go back to try again.
Before I talk about Andrew’s race day I will say he achieved something amazing and got rewarded for all the work he put into it but it came close to going very wrong.
We had discussed before starting Andrews program he was attempting to “complete not compete” for his Ironman (he even wrote it on his hand then ignored it!). This was one of the reasons I agreed to coach him. He was young to put his body through the punishment of an Ironman and he hadn’t completed any other triathlons longer than a sprint distance so everything was going to be new and he didn’t have a lot of time by the time we started.
We based all Andrews training around this “complete” philosophy and wrote a race plan to support it.
The swim we had agreed he should go with the first wave. He comes from a swim background so an hour swim was going to be a comfortable pace. It also meant he would be swimming with people of the same speed. If he went in a slower wave it potentially meant he would end up either with lots of contact or no one to draft off.
Within 10 miles of the bike it all started to go wrong as he enjoyed himself keeping up with the elite pro’s! “I didn’t train for this” should have been ringing alarm bells. As I watched on the live tracker his speed already was for me.
With the increased speed his agreed nutrition strategy disappeared as well. We had planned how much he had to eat and he said he wanted to stop at the end of each lap to eat properly at the feed station. This went out the window.
It is so easy for all of us to carried away on a race day. With experience you learn to pace yourself. With more experience you can get away with it when you learn how much you can really push that little extra. The longer the event we chose to do the less likely we are to cope though.
With no experience and to maximise your day stick to the plan agreed with the coach.
Andrew says the second lap was much like the first. Watching the race by the numbers on the tracker it was very different. The speed was a lot slower and a hint of things to come.
We had had quite a few discussions about pacing particularly as we had planned and trained for a 9 minute run, 1 minute walk marathon strategy.. “Don’t worry about being overtaken when walking”, “stick to your pace”, “others will fade and come back to you if you manage it properly”.
As we can see from his report the 1 minute walk became 20 seconds on race day.
We had also discussed to alternate on feed stations with water and coke. Andrew never mentioned he didn’t like coke so was going to use gels. I never found out until reading the report! For gels to work they use osmosis in your cells to get the energy in quickly. This means water goes the other way so not a great hydration strategy.
All these small accumulative decisions eventually took their toll and Andrew collapsed hugely. As I watched it happen on the live tracker I began to worry he would not finish. You obviously have no idea what is happening when watching remotely like this but it didn’t look good.
Fortunately his natural survival mechanism kicked in and he drank the coke he didn’t like to get himself to the end.
So in summary let your coach take the stress out of what you are wanting to achieve. The coach will deliver the method and you can focus on the process. Communicate well, jointly agree to a plan and then commit to it.
As Andrew did make the dream a reality.