Posted On:
Tuesday, November 10, 2020
Updated On:
Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Coach Tip Tuesday: Confront Obstacles Head-On

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A photo of a river spilling over the rocks as it navigates its course.

Just in time to cure you of your case of the Mondays: It’s Coach Tip Tuesday!

This week, we’re talking about obstacles.  Yes, the dreaded things that interfere with your best-laid plans.  Specifically, I’m using the term “obstacles” here to refer to those things that cause you to either not want to follow the plan to your goals, not complete a workout on a given day, or something that causes you enough stress that it feels a bit unmanageable.  

Everyone has them, but what are obstacles for one person may not be obstacles for another person.  As such, it is important to know what YOUR obstacles are.  This involves a very scary thing: taking a hard look at one’s life and recognizing the things that are obstacles.

I’ve observed many, many different types of personal obstacles that athletes face over the course of my career as an endurance coach.  Some examples:

  • Poor weather conditions
  • Morning workouts
  • Evening workouts
  • Detailed workouts
  • Certain specific workouts
  • Having to do a workout in a discipline that isn’t the athlete’s favorite
  • Outdoor vs. indoor workouts

That is by no means a comprehensive list, but it gives you an idea of some common obstacles for folks.  I personally have a couple of obstacles: I will not do an entire swim workout that is only kicking, I will not ride inside unless salt is on the roads outside, I will not run on a treadmill, and morning workouts are not my favorite.

What is important about this is that I know that these things are true for me.  I don’t try to fight them; I accept them as the truth, and I move on from there.  And that’s the trick, folks: accepting what is.  If you recognize your own personal obstacles and accept them, that then enables you to get onto the business of making a plan that works best for you.

So, for someone like me who doesn’t like morning workouts, I structure my days so that I have time slots later on when I can get workouts in.  Since I won’t ride inside unless there is salt on the roads, this means that I have to be willing to invest in the gear that makes riding outside in lower temperatures comfortable.  My unwillingness to run on a treadmill requires similar investment in proper all-season running gear.

For some athletes, detailed workouts might feel like too much, and they may do better with more general guidelines for their workouts.  Other athletes, for any number of reasons, may struggle with evening workouts and need to consider setting up their daily lives so they have blocks of time to exercise earlier in the day.  Other athletes (triathletes especially, in my experience) struggle with doing workouts in the discipline that is the least fun for them.

Any of these obstacles could cause an athlete to not do a workout, mentally disengage from their training, or at worst, start to become disenchanted with their goal.  That’s why it’s important to face our obstacles head on.  Like a river that encounters rocks or boulders along its path, we can find a way to navigate around and work with the obstacles that present themselves to us.

I’m asking you all to be brave this week.  I’m asking you to take an honest look at your endurance sport lives and to seek out the obstacles that you face and to tackle them head on.  But here's the deal, my friends.  I know you ARE brave.  And I know you can face your unique obstacles and come out on the other side stronger and more confidence because of it.

Confront those obstacles head-on, folks.  And by doing so, you’ll end up hitting your goals head-on as well.  So see those obstacles as opportunities to shine, my friends.


Coach Laura Henry

Laura Henry is a Syracuse, NY-based coach who is a USA Triathlon Level II Long Course and Level II Paratriathlon Certified Coach, USA Cycling Level 2 Certified Coach, VFS Certified Bike Fitter, and has successfully completed NASM's Certified Personal Trainer course. Coach Laura is passionate about helping athletes of all ability levels reach their goals and has coached many athletes to success.

She can be reached at

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