My Coaching Philosophy

I truly enjoy working with the athletes that I coach and sharing my experience and knowledge with them. It’s my job as a coach to educate you and incorporate the various aspects of exercise physiology, nutrition, and planning into your training to help you reach your potential as an athlete, achieve your goals, and have fun doing it.

It’s my job to work with the athlete to create an individual blueprint that will help you develop the fitness and skills necessary to be successful. The most fundamental variables in training for any endurance sport are volume, intensity, and frequency. My basic coaching philosophy is “quality over quantity”. The goal is to train smarter, not necessarily harder. While hard work is definitely a part of becoming a stronger, faster athlete, I believe that high quality is more important than simply piling on the volume. Every workout should be done with a specific purpose and be part of an organized progression, building toward your ultimate goals.

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Individualization

No two athletes are alike.  We all have a different backgrounds, experiences, goals, needs, and a unique set of strengths and limiters.  That’s why I don’t use standard training plans.  There are plenty of resources available online where you can find general training plans for just about any type and distance of race imaginable.  While there isn’t necessarily anything wrong with these plans, they were likely developed for a broad range of triathletes with a range of backgrounds and abilities.  Two athletes on the exact same training plan may have very different results.  If you want to get the most out of your training then it’s essential to have a training plan that is tailored to address your particular needs.  My job as a coach is to do everything I can to provide the best instruction, advice, support, and training program based on YOUR individual needs to help you reach YOUR personal performance goals.

Specificity

One of the most important training concepts is specificity.  We present a stress to our body and it will adapt to that specific stress, becoming stronger and faster.   In other words, to get good at something, you need to practice that specific activity.  While there may be some carry over from sport to sport, studies have shown that this is actually a very small factor.  For instance, while cyclists may have significant leg strength and endurance, that fitness does not directly carry over to running even though the same major muscle groups and systems are utilized.  Therefore it’s important to train specifically for each sport.  In addition to sport-specific training, it is important that training intensity also move from general to specific as an athlete moves towards their goal races.

Overload, Adaptation, and Recovery

The purpose of training is simply to cause adaptation in our bodies.  We present a stress to our body (overload) and then allow it to recover and adapt to that specific stress, becoming stronger and faster.  Overload can be in the form of increased frequency, volume, or intensity.  While overload happens during training, adaptation occurs when we rest and sleep.  It’s easy to fall into the mindset of “more is better”, pushing ourselves day after day.  Without allowing proper time for recovery and incorporating periodic rest days you can find yourself in a state of overtraining that will limit your progress and could take weeks to overcome.  Finding the proper balance of overload and recovery is a very key part of the work I do with my clients and requires a good deal of communication.  Easy recovery days and regular rest days are an integral part of every training plan I develop.

Periodization & Progression

Systematically manipulating training volume, frequency, and intensity form the basis of periodization. There are entire books devoted to the theory of periodization and it’s not my intent here to thoroughly cover the topic.  Athletes and researchers in the 1940’s discovered that varying training throughout the season leads to significant improvements in performance compared to maintaining a constant workload.  Periodzation gives us a framework to divide the season into manageable periods, balance training intensity with duration, build volume gradually, and generally build towards our goals in an organized way.  Periodization also incorporates the concept of specificity, maintaining gains made in earlier training phases while building toward race-specific skills and conditioning as you move through the season approaching your goal races.  Periods of overload need to be arranged in a progressive manner, building throughout the season.  Overstressing your body can potentially lead to injury and lost training time so it is important to increase overload in small, incremental amounts.  I work with my athletes to establish a periodization program and determine the appropriate amounts of progression based on their specific abilities, stage of development, and response to training.

Strength Training

While traditional (non-specific) strength training may not translate directly into significant gains in swim/bike/run performance (remember specificity) for most athletes, I believe strength training should be part of a complete training program for just about every endurance athlete in order to maintain muscle balance and flexibility, as well as help prevent injuries.  I like to include plyometrics, drills, yoga, and stretching as part of most training plans. In addition, including hill repeats for running, big gear intervals on the bike, and swimming with paddles provides sport-specific strength training as an important component of any training plan.

Nutrition

If you want to push your body to perform then you need to fuel it properly.  I approach nutrition as part of my lifestyle as opposed to a “diet”.  Understanding how the demands of endurance training impact our nutritional requirements is a critical piece of the puzzle when it comes to maximizing fitness and performance.  Developing a balanced and healthy eating lifestyle will benefit your athletic performance as well as you long-term health.  Additionally, recent research is showing that what and when you eat in relation to training is just as important as how much you eat.  Fine-tuning our specific nutrient timing will help us to get the most out of those long training hours.

Communication

The coach and athlete need to develop a relationship and level of trust in order to facilitate open and honest communication about all aspects of the athlete’s training and daily life.  I’m not suggesting you need to become best friends with your coach, but they need to understand your personal goals, priorities, and other life commitments in order to tailor an appropriate and effective training plan.  Your coach also needs honest feedback from you about your physical and mental state.  Do you feel a previous injury creeping back or is your training plan progressing faster than what you feel comfortable with?  You shouldn’t hesitate to discuss any concerns you might have with your coach.  It’s not a sign of weakness, it’s the smart thing to do.  You’re the only person that knows exactly how your mind and body are handling the stresses of training.  It’s the coach’s job to listen and adjust your plan accordingly to avoid physical and mental burnout.

Enjoy THE RIDE

Unless you’re a professional trying to make a living at the sport, enjoyment may be the most important aspect of triathlon.  If your training isn’t fun or rewarding then you won’t be motivated to stick with it.  While you may not be excited about waking up at 6am for that Masters swim or long ride, you should be looking forward to the workout itself, whether it be for the challenge, sense of accomplishment, or camaraderie with your training partners.  Your training should leave you feeling excited and looking forward to the next session.

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