It’s great to be back here again for Coach Tip Tuesday!!
If you are currently working with a coach, how did you select your coach?? If you don’t work with a coach, what things would you seek in coach if you were to hire one to work for you??
Now that I’ve spent more than a few trips around the sun coaching athletes, I’ve learned a lot about this profession (and there’s still so much more to learn!!). At Team MPI, we have all new athletes fill out an Athlete Questionnaire when they decide to hire one of our coaches. On it, we ask them to tell us what their expectations of us are, and we also ask them to tell us how they will determine at the end of the season if their training plan was successful. Without many exceptions, most of the answers I see on this are one of the following: 1) Finish their goal race 2) PR a particular distance.
What I find interesting about these answers is that they are exceptionally results-focused. And, to be honest, that makes quite a bit of sense. Athletes are generally motivated by a goal, and as such, they become fixated on that - the end result of their training. So, it stands to reason that they define success by that end result.
What I have realized, however, after all of these years, is that coaching is not race day. Coaching is the day-to-day. What do I mean by this?? It’s the e-mails. It’s the workout descriptions. It’s the text messages. It’s the phone calls. It’s the training plan design. It’s the in-person or video assessments. It’s the coach’s organization. It’s the adjustments, the questions answered, the advice given. While race days provide a check-in point, they really are only the perceived glories or failures of a coach. A lot of factors can affect race day, and most of those are beyond the control of the coach or the athlete. So, it’s risky to set race results as the only measure of success. What IS in their control (for the most part, anyway) is the day-to-day and how that is managed. If the coach has done his or her job well, the athlete should be self-sufficient on race day, and be ready to handle most scenarios that come his or her way.
So, in reality, coaching isn’t about race day. It’s very much about the day-to-day, the process. It’s all of the work and preparation leading into race day that defines a coach. Anyone can show up on race day, but not everyone can navigate the path to race day. If you’re considering hiring a coach to work for you, I recommend that you seek out someone who cares about you, is accessible to you, and who can help you determine the best path to get to your goals. And when you’re evaluating whether your coached training plan was successful, have their ability to do that be the standard by which you measure that success.