So I just saw this video on FB from Macca about his advice on choosing a coach and it reminded me that I was going to write out some of my own thoughts... I received some emails over the last couple of days asking about my new coach so here's a bit of the background if you're interested!
First off... I know everyone has different reasons for hiring a coach, and really, they're all valid! My #1 reason really is so I just can stop over-thinking everything for myself. Having finished 12 Ironmans and having coached a lot of athletes through theirs over the years, I've got a pretty good idea of the type of training that needs to be done to finish one to your best ability. I've learned this partly through trial and error but mostly via some good coaches I've worked with in the past. So with that, I don't feel like I need a basic education in how to train for an Ironman, which actually makes choosing a coach more tricky I think... And since I'm a coach myself (and think I do a pretty good job!) my expectations are high! In order for me to turn over complete 100% trust to a coach, I need to believe that he/she knows more than me. There are other important qualities of course... because what good is it if your coach knows more than you if he/she isn't good at communicating with you?
So I made a list of what I was really looking for:
~Someone with lots of experience personally racing long and short course. I wanted someone who's been there and done that and has experienced both success and failure- someone who succeeds all the time will not understand the psyche of the athlete who fails sometimes...
~Someone with lots of experience coaching both long and short course athletes. I do believe that the more athletes you coach, the better you'll understand different 'types' and therefore will be able to work with them more effectively. That said, I didn't really want to hire a coach who works with a lot of professional athletes because my gut just tells me that I would fall to the bottom of the totem pole in a group like that.
~Someone who is truly passionate about coaching. I really wanted someone who coaches pretty much full time and my thinking here was that the coach would be most 'available' and able to pay attention to how their athletes are doing/progressing vs having their attention split between multiple jobs and their own racing, etc. That said, and for whatever reason, I wasn't particularly interested in being a part of a large 'group' where there are multiple coaches and a system in place, etc. I don't want to be plugged into a 'system'. I want a coach to listen to ME and get a feel for who I am and what my individual strengths and weaknesses are and take it from there.
~Someone who enjoys communicating and does so regularly/freely. Anytime I saw a website that listed tiers of coaching packages and limited emails (like 1 per week??) I moved on immediately. I'm sorry but effective communication between coach and athlete requires more than one email per week.
~Someone who made me feel like they genuinely wanted to work with me. I think this is important and maybe overlooked by some athletes... it's not just if you want to work with a particular coach... but does he/she WANT to work with you? If they do, I think they'll pay more attention and do a better job. And for better or worse, the athlete makes this call based on the initial communication response from the coach after an inquiry- if the coach takes 3 days to respond to your initial inquiry, what is that saying? If he/she writes back one sentence that is quick and tells you pretty much nothing, what is that saying?
~My gut was telling me to go with a woman if I could find one but this was not hardline... just a preference mostly based on the fact that stereotypically, women are better at communicating than men. (Yes, I know that is a generalization and that's why this was not hardline.)
So now how to find this person?!? Damie and I actually had some good communication about some different coaches we were possibly interested in and honestly, she's the one who first added Sam Warriner to the list. And as I started researching her more and more I found what I thought might be a good match for me... Here's a woman who appears to have unwavering confidence in herself (which helps me to have confidence in her! Important!) I could go through the list but let me just summarize here and say that right away it seemed like she fit everything I was looking for and the response I got from her initially was awesome. My gut just said YEP go with her so I stopped thinking and just did it. Because that was my goal, right? To stop thinking??
Anyway, we haven't really officially started working together yet because (after looking at my TP account) she told me that the only way she'd work with me is if I took a full 7 days completely and totally OFF. Um, what???? Ok I might die. Not really, but that's definitely what I thought when I first read that email. But she asked if I trusted her and I said that I did so I'm doing as she's telling me. I'm not sure if she's trying to break my addiction to training or just make sure that I'm completely salivating when she actually starts writing workouts for me? Either way, it's working I'm like drooling pleeeeease let me go running...
So there you go. That's how it went down.