Monday, February 4, 2008

The Self-Coached Athlete

Many of us are in the situation of being our own coach. For some, there are no other options as there is no coaching available where we live. This, however, is a weak excuse as there are a plethora of coaches on the internet, willing to take our money and help us to the desired goal. On-line coaching is an option, but it can be expensive and you have to wonder how much personal attention you actually receive. Others of us are too cheap to spring for the cost of the coach, while there are the other group of us know-it-alls that believe we can do it ourselves. I fall somewhere in amongst the last two groups. Being an accountant, I am inherently frugal, and with my many years of running experience, I am probably also a bit of a know-it-all! Pitiful, but true!
If you are taking the self-coaching road, there are generally more than a few pitfalls. Without someone watching over our workouts and intensities, the easy ones are done too hard and the hard ones too easy. And I believe the largest aspect of the program overlooked, is the mental training required for an endurance event. We spend a lot of time doing and not as much time planning and visualizing. This is especially true for an IM where so much of what is required to be successful hinges on a solid plan and a good mental attitude. Much of the plan goes out the window in the first 10 minutes, but it is still important to have one and be comfortable with making adjustments on the fly. The ability to adapt throughout the race is part of the mental training that allows you to stay calm and capable of making good decisions throughout the long day that is IM. Generally, that is the big difference between those who have a successful day and those that don't. The whole day is one decision after another and the key is to make more right decisions than wrong decisions.
In the end though, being your own coach does have some advantages. You're not likely to get fired, and the price is right! The odd beer once in awhile and you can keep the old coach happy.
There is a lot of information available on line if you chose this route, almost too much! Care must be taken to develop a plan that suits you and the realities of your life. No use latching on to a plan that calls for 20 hours a week when you only have 10 to spare. Also you have to understand what your goals are for the race and tailor a plan that suits your abilities. Self-coaching is a viable option and can be rewarding and successful.
On the workout front, Sunday was a very easy day and I did a quick 3o minutes of light spinning on the bike. Saturday's long run had no ill effects on the legs, but there was no point pushing it.
Today I did just over an hour in the pool and racked up 2,700 metres. The workout was a 500 metre warm up, followed by three sets of 250 metres @ 70%, 150 metres @ 60%, and 100 metres @ 80%. The remainder was a cool down of mixed strokes.
Tonight was another easy run, logging just over 7 miles in 51:20.
This week's total hours will be down from the 13 I did last week, and I should come in around 11 hours with more emphasis on cycling and less on running.
Have a great day!


Keith power said...

I coach myself but I also have a assistant coach, who I think I might have to let go. Over the weekend the assistant complained about the beer. Its too bad I really love my wife.

Love2Run said...

I hope Keith's coach doesn't read this blog or he'll be sleeping on the couch for awhile! My coach is always after me to do less but I'm to addicted. Enjoy your cutback week.