I like coaching myself. I’m very motivated and obsessively read around any subject I’m interested in. I have a reasonable understanding of the human body and I’m always keen to add to that, to tie in different bits of knowledge and better understand what’s going on inside me and the other machines like me.
I also like to share in other people’s experiences, and to bounce ideas off specialists. I know where muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones are but I need a physiotherapist to explain why I have the pain and how I might fix myself.
But I don’t think I could spend the money and give over my planning and organisation to a coach. Self coaching can be tricky, although I think I keep it simple and that simple can work. There are many ways to train, but just because it’s more complex it doesn’t mean that it’s better or more effective. A specific goal and an organised way of preparing for it seems to work quite well. Routine is good, but it’s also good to change things around and to look forward to that change. Knowing yourself must be an important part of self-coaching, as must be confidence.
This year a plan to be competitive at triathlon has made last year’s running preparation look incredibly simple. It’s great to not have to run every day (my calcaneal tendons are thanking me for that) and spending more time in the pool is really helping my swimming. Time on the bike feels like playtime. The organisation of this is very interesting, and as I try to lay out my training plans for the next 2 months, 5 months and beyond I encounter quite different methodologies, thinking, and styles. Of course many of them conflict.
Picking your way, choosing your methods, testing them on yourself and feeling or measuring the changes that slowly develop with time and sweat can be as rewarding as the race itself. Developing knowledge of your body, your physiology, your anatomy, yourself rather than just knowledge of the sport, the equipment, the techniques, and the numbers feels fuller and a prize in itself.
This year I plan to separate my training thoughts. How do I get fast at running? How do I get fast at time trialling on the bike? How do I swim efficiently and fast? The first two I have experience of, but the third less so. The fourth part will ask, how do I combine and link these effectively on race day? By splitting these up my planning gets simpler, and by planning to combine and combining the sports in training it livens things up and I should feel prepared, ready and experienced on race day.
Well, that’s the plan. When the season is over I’ll have a good idea of what worked, and what to work on for 2011. Fun!