So what many of you don't know is that I've started my own coaching business! It's been in the works for a while now and I was going to wait until I had an official certification before putting it up here, but after reading Mary's blog about certification/schmertification, I figured what the heck!?! So there it is. Coach Michelle. Has a nice ring to it, no?
Anyway, like Mary and Ange, I tried to get into a USAT course. My problem was that I logged on 20 minutes after the registration opened and it was, um, closed already. Wow. I had no idea these things were so popular. I did find out that USAT is offering a course in Kona right before Ironman next October, and I am registered for that. I was actually surprised that that one isn't more popular- seems like maybe a lot of people who are interested in coaching would also be interested in being in Kona during race week for all the festivities, though I understand that it's quite an expensive trip and let's face it, those of us who are just starting out our coaching careers probably are not rolling in the dough. Anyway, my understanding is that the course in Kona is still open to anyone who wants to register. ;)
So that being what it is, I wanted to find another route to get my certification sooner. A little google searching and I came up with the ITCA course. I signed up and got started on the course maybe 6 weeks ago. Here are my thoughts:
~It's a 16 week course but you can totally do it faster if you're motivated and have the time. There are 16 modules and it's expected that you do one per week, but you could get more than that done if you have the time. Each chapter consists of reading 20-25 pages of info, watching a video online, answering some reflection questions, and then responding to a couple more questions on the ITCA blog (which is not a public blog- you get access once you're in the course). So a positive aspect of the program is that you can do it at home on your own computer on your own time.
~It costs $450 which seems like a lot, but it's cheaper than the USAT course at $525. If you sign up, do not get suckered into buying the Polar RS800CX HR monitor that they offer at a 'special' price. It's an additional $350 (normally retails for $400ish). It's advertised as a "complete running system" showing you your speed, distance, cadence, gps, etc... but what they don't tell you is that to get all that info you have to purchase a couple of extra sensors (the gps sensor and the stride sensor) which are about $150 each. I'm sorry, but I think $350 for a heart rate monitor is INSANE. I don't care how fancy the computer software is. If it doesn't even tell me speed and distance, it is NOT worth $350. Lucky for me, I did my share of complaining about this (Hello?? False advertising on the website!) and supposedly a free stride sensor is on it's way to me, though that is yet to be seen.
~I am disappointed in the complexity of the material that is unrelated to triathlon training. While there is some decent info toward the end of the course about actual triathlon training, the bulk of the course consists of physiology stuff, biomechanics, kinesiology, etc. I suppose this is not surprising since ITCA is a part of NESTA which focuses primarily on personal training. If I were a betting woman, I would say that a bunch of this course is the same or very similar to what is involved in a personal trainer certification course. I'm sorry, but I just don't see how lever arms and moment arms are related to the triathlon training we do. I have been a triathlete for 15+ years now, have completed 9 Ironmans including the World Championships twice, and prior to this course I had never heard of a moment arm. And after this course, I still don't feel like I have a good grasp of it, though there were three questions on the test about these physics concepts. I guess I'm just sayin' that the relevance wasn't always there for me.
~Speaking of the test, holy moly ridiculous. 150 questions, 98% of which I had to look up the answers to, 15% of which after 10 hours of researching answers in both the 321 page triathlon coaching manual AND other google searches online, I am still unable to confidently answer. A few of those are because the wording of the question/answers make it very tricky, but some of them are questions about material that is simply not addressed in the manual. I'm sorry, but knowing 'What molecule is connected to the Z-line of the sarcomere' just isn't something I'm going to be using as a triathlon coach. But if you're going to test me on it, put it in the manual!!!
All that said, I think I may be close to finding enough correct answers to actually pass this course. IF I fail the test (which has never happened- I have never failed a test!) I won't bother taking it again because nothing will change between now and a re-take. If google didn't tell me the answer the first time after checking and rechecking, it's not going to do anything different on try #2... In that case, I will continue my business as an uncertified coach for this year, which hasn't seemed to bother my clients so far. I casually mentioned to a couple people here that I was starting up a business as a coach and one by one I started getting calls... Within a week I had 6 athletes signed up! Wow! That felt good to me because 5 of them are local athletes who know me already, so it wasn't even like I had to trick a bunch of you out there in cyberspace to commit your season to me... Lol. Seriously though, to hear from these athletes that they trust me and feel confident that I can help them is a real confidence booster. It makes me believe even more that this is the right path for me. Though in all honesty, it probably helped that since I'm new and just now building my business, my prices are quite reasonable in the world of triathlon coaching.
So anyway, I just spent the last hour writing programs for a few of my athletes for next week... and you know what? I LOVE THIS STUFF. I'm in my third week as 'Coach' and it just feels right, even though I'm still not sure if the reason why you can't produce as tight of a fist when your wrist is flexed is due to passive or active insufficiency.