I did something radical in November, something that I thought I’d never do because I just didn’t need to. I got a coach. Even now it feels a little odd saying that, after all I’m a qualified coach myself with plenty of experience, so why do I need a coach? Well let me explain.
I’m not one for cheesy motivational quotes or sharing inspirational words on Instagram but I do have a few personal mantras to help guide me through this crazy world and the following is in the top 3 – “stupidity is doing the same thing twice and expecting a different result”. Last summer I found myself writing weekly training plans and then consistently struggling to complete even 50% of the plan. Not because I physically couldn’t, but rather I wasn’t able to hold myself to account as I had in the past to be disciplined in getting the sessions done.
Most of my training is done early in the morning, it fits better with family and work and in general I’m a morning person and enjoy knowing I’ve got the training done before most people wake up. Plus there is a much higher risk of evening plans getting impacted by work demands or simple tiredness. But it does require you to take that first step out of bed when the alarm goes off at 5.30am which let’s face it doesn’t always feel that attractive when your bed is warm and cosy. In the past I’ve been pretty good at getting it done and coached myself to 12 marathons, 2 ultras and an ironman.
When I reflect I think the sheer volume of training for the Ironman was the tipping point, averaging 10+ hours of training for 6 months was a huge commitment but the goal motivated me and I was happy to do it with the support of my family. However the post race blues got me like never before, a few weeks of easy training and rewarding myself for the achievement turned into a few months and I just couldn’t get back to any consistency. Throw in some work stress that resulted in me looking for a new job (and ultimately a new job in a different country!) and there was an easy excuse for not training.
Which led me to reflect on what I wanted from my training; continue with trying to be triathlete? Go back to pure running? Some more multisport races? Actually while having a race to aim for is fun a large part of training for me is about more than achieving a goal race. It’s good for me both mentally and physically to be active, I know I’m a better person when I’m exercising regularly.
But even knowing that I needed to be active I wasn’t being consistent in my training, which is what led me to contemplating getting a coach. I needed someone who was going to keep my accountable to my plan and also give me some new sessions and approaches to training. Variety is the spice of life after all.
Now the downside of living in rural Wales is that it was highly unlikely I was going to find a coach local to me who I could see physically on a regular basis. The nearest running club is a 30 minute drive away and there isn’t a huge demand for running coaches in a primarily farming neighbourhood! A bit of internet searching and also asking on Instagram for suggestions led me to discovering Whittlefit, based in Cardiff so not a million miles from me and recommended by a couple of quality athletes.
The rest as they say is history, a coffee with Mark gave me the reassurance that it could work and was at the very least worth trying for a few months. I’ve now had 7 months of really consistent training, I’ve increased my FTP by more than 10% and got the excitement back in my training again. Knowing that if I don’t complete the planned session I have to explain why to Mark has helped me take the first cold step out of bed each day. But if something does come up then we have a quick chat and figure how to adapt the plan to suit the work/life/family balance. We also meet up face to face periodically to chat about how things are going but otherwise communicate through TrainingPeaks and email.
Getting a coach has certainly worked for, if you’re struggling to hit your goals or just need a bit more support with your training then worth considering getting a coach. If you do then think about the type of relationship you want with your coach and make sure you discuss that with them so you