Coach Tip Tuesday: Fix the Things that are Free

Posted On:
Tuesday, November 27, 2018
Updated On:
Tuesday, July 18, 2023
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And seven days later, it’s Coach Tip Tuesday again!!

Today, the day after “Buy All of the Stuff Weekend,” I’d LOVE to chat with you all about something that is near and dear to my heart: Fix the things that are FREE.

I’ve coached so many athletes over the years, with such an array of personalities, financial situations, goals, etc.  One thing I have observed over this time is that many, if not all, of the athletes who I have worked for have been *exceptionally* resistant to “fixing” the things in their training that are free to fix.  Ironically, many of them that are resistant to fixing the things that are free (especially triathletes since that sport is very gear-driven), seem to care tremendously about things like fancy GPS watches, aero helmets, high-level bikes, the highest-level running shoes, the most streamlined wetsuits, aerodynamic/race wheels, the latest massage or recovery gadget, etc. and they will invest a small fortune in these items.

You’ve heard me say it before: not matter how hard you try, you CANNOT buy your way out of doing the work.  Yes, certain tools and certain gear are good investments, but at the end of the day, the best investment you can make is in YOU - your body, and your training.

What are these “free” things that I’m talking about??  Well, you’ve probably all heard of them before.  Sleep.  Nutrition.  Stretching.  Hydration.  Recovery.

Yes, yes, technically some of these do cost money.  But my point here is that they do not cost *extra* disposable income money.  They are already a part of your daily lives.  So my advice this week is to MAXIMIZE the financial investments you already need to and are making in your lives.

Without a doubt, sleep is one of the most important tools in an athlete’s toolbelt.  In our “more is better” world, we do not apply that philosophy to sleep since the “more” that we’re always fixated on is productivity, efficiency, and work completed while we are awake.  I challenge you to apply the “more is better” philosophy to sleep.

The only workout that is the same every single day for every single athlete I coach, whether it’s one-on-one through Team MPI or in my group program at Fleet Feet Syracuse is this: Stretching.  Stretching is incredibly important for ensuring that our soft tissues stay pliable and able to handle the training loads that we impose on them.  As athletes age (and we’ve all aged in just the time it’s taken you to read this), this becomes increasingly more important, even more important than cardio workouts.

Nutrition and hydration go hand-in-hand. As any of my one-on-one athletes will tell you, I HARP on them about this, especially once I have them do a sweat rate test and know exactly how many fluid ounces per hour they should be consuming. Every single one of the athletes who I have ever coached one-on-one had been under-consuming liquids during workouts prior to working with me. That means that almost every one of you out there is likely under-consuming as well. Don't any of you try and deny it. ;) As far as nutrition goes, if you’re thinking about spending $100 on some new gadget, I will just say this: I would rather you spent that $100 on vegetables to fuel your body and help your system recover from all of the work that you're doing.

And there it is again: recovery.  My favorite topic to discuss since so many people (whether they admit it or not) struggle with it.  Recovery is free.  Things like putting your feet up and reading a book, going for a walk in your neighborhood, sleeping, or properly executing a recovery workout are all FREE.  And they’ll help you maximize your potential when it’s time to do the hard work and when it’s time to race.  Trust me.

I get it, I get it.  It’s much easier to think that spending some money on something will magically get you to your goals.  Doing the hard work is scary!!  But, as always, I’m here to be that honest voice of reason.  The things that are FREE - those simple things that are actually quite hard - are the things that will serve you best in the end.

Fix the things that are free, my friends.  You might just be shocked at the results.


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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