What I’ve learned from having a coaches for two years has been invaluable. Both of these ladies, Coach Laura and Coach Jen, got me through injuries and helped me achieve goals I never thought possible. I’m shocked that I have taken my body to such amazing places. A top 5 list of lessons I’ve learned:
1. Do your research and then trust your coach. This seems like a no-brainer but for some of us it is hard to put our training cycle in someone else’s hands. But if you’ve done your research, you should know what approach your coach will take to training, their style, how they have trained other clients (when interviewing coaches ask to speak to one of their other athletes), the success stories they have achieved, etc. Trust that your instinct on choosing a coach is solid and if it isn’t feeling right, express your concerns and ask to make adjustments. A good coach is wants a happy (and hardworking) athlete. Don’t be afraid to push back on something but also hear them out, if you’ve done your research, you have already chosen a solid coach who has experience and knowledge. Once you’re in the throes of a plan follow it, provide honest feedback, upload your data and TRUST that your coach knows what she/he is doing. Even if that means cutting back/adding volume outside of your normal comfort zone, this is the whole point of having coach--getting you to realize your potential and pushing you beyond your comfort zones.
2. It is okay to “fail.” Part of what I’m learning about having a coach is that some training sessions are designed to be really really really hard to execute and that’s part of the grand plan. What I mean by “fail” isn’t so much that you don’t achieve a goal, more that, a workout was so hard you were forced to make adjustments along the way, learning where you still need more work and where you were just hovering not getting faster/stronger/tougher. I've had a few workouts this year where I really tried to hit X pace for X time/distance and got close but didn't quite make it. Each of these have been learning experiences. Learn and move on.
3. Don’t stress over the data, this is why you have a coach. I used to analyze my splits like crazy, now, I review them sure and gain some insight from them BUT this is why I have a coach. It is their job to review your data and make adjustments going forward and to point out areas to work on.
4. Communication is key. This goes hand-in-hand with trusting your coach and #5 (below) but communication is key. You can't expect your coach to help you progress if you are not communicating your progress or what is going on. If your shoulder is acting up, you should tell your coach so they don't schedule a 4k swim workout. Communication doesn't pertain to just injuries either. Communicate on life...if you have a big work or personal trip coming up, let your coach know and they can work with your schedule. If you have a big stressful event coming up, also important to note, as your body doesn't know the difference between physical and emotional stress. Also, if a workout was hard/easy/moderate/etc communicate it.
And, probably the most important...
5. Be honest. Be honest with your coach and with yourself. If you aren’t honest, you’re not likely to make improvements. You and your coach learn from honest feedback.