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On the Coaching Front

April 3, 2012

Texas 70.3 was such a treat on many fronts. It was my first race coaching a professional triathlete! Jennie executed a beautiful race, read her race report here. I’ve seen a lot of athletes make the leap from age grouper to professional, some have a good experience and some don’t. My priority for Jennie was that it was a good experience. In my opinion that first time in the pro ranks really needed to be positive. You only get to have one first time after all, and the field for this race was no joke.

You don’t get to rack your bike with Lance Armstrong every day either! Transition had full security even!

I wanted to be there for her first pro race and did question whether I should have been competing, or there on the sidelines. Jesse was competing too and I realized that as long as our preparation was good for her, that competing would be just fine. There will be races I need to be on the sideline for, and there will be races I won’t even be at. Again the key became preparation.

As I gathered me thoughts as my first race coaching a professional, I narrowed it down to three keys in terms of what needs to be considered on the professional (and in many cases the age group level as well)

1. The support crew: When you are a QT2 athlete and you come to a QT2 focus race you are taken care of. We have a team breakfast, we stay together, we are a team. So having the support of your team is key in situations like this. On our team we happen to have Cait Snow, who obviously was racing who could provide some comfort if needed. (As an aside, did you see Cait on the cover of Lava????)

In case you missed it!

The thing about Cait Snow, is that she’s the consummate professional and at the same time she’s down to earth. I get to interact with her often because I work for her, but as an example…. out on the bike course she was on her way back and I was on my way out….. she screams her head off for you! Someone in her position could just be riding with her head down and focused. To have someone like Cait in our corner to help navigate the nuances of professionalism is huge.

We also have her husband Tim, who was not racing…. to help keep things on track. And of course we have Jesse who mentors me as I coach Jennie.

This is key for me because I have never coached a professional before, and he oversees what I do on the coaching front. He has a very precise way of organizing thoughts and instructions so that when it comes down to the plan…. it’s clean and simple. I have worked with Jesse as an athlete for three years as well, and I understand how he thinks, what his visions are (and why more importantly) and how he functions.

Not only do we have a lot of support on the coaching and athlete front….. we are just one really close and fun team. What better way to kick off your pro career than surrounded by those who are there to support you? (did I just talk in a circle?)

2. Managing expectations: In many cases, not all …. many….. athletes new to the pro ranks have unrealistic expectations. With Jennie we knew she wouldn’t be knocking on Kelly Williamson’s door out of the gate, but what Kelly said at the awards ceremony was key….. she put in the time, she was patient, and now she was experiencing the results of that patience.

For the first race as a professional not only did I want this to be a good experience for Jennie, I wanted it to be a realistic one. Fortunatley for me she’s got a good head on her shoulders and has realistic expectations. We utilize our triathlon calculator tools at QT2 to set the range for paces and times…. and we nailed them.

Had she come into this race with an unrealistic expectation it could have spelled disaster, and that’s no way to compete.

3. Seeing the bigger picture: At QT2 we have a multi-year approach, and that’s something we really drive home with all of our athletes not just our pros. For example an athlete might come to us and say… I want to qualify for Kona. We back that up and say…. okay based on our metrics (performances of the past, performance indicators, body composition, ability to get in critical volume, etc) we say….. okay based on where we are at right now…. we think you can do an Ironman in XX:XX, and that is or is not a realistic expectation for this current season. More importantly we say this: if we project your training through the next 3 years based on what we know now….. we can see XX degree of improvement which would mean an XX:XX in an Ironman which…. well in 3 years we know you can qualify for Kona.

We look at long-term progress not short-term gains.

For an athlete like Jennie we have a five-year plan. Coming into a race like Texas we know that we are capable of this now…. yet we are capable of X degree of improvement down the road.

I think that the long-term development is the most difficult for any athlete to see and understand whether that athlete is an age grouper or professional. At QT2 we take that long-term development seriously for all of our athletes, we are committed to them over a period of years not one single season. I think that’s one of the things that makes us different. We don’t promise ridiculous things in eight months. We promise realistic things over the course of 2-3 years of solid training and good nutrition and capturing the athlete as a whole entity.

My first race coaching a professional was awesome. I am very aware that as a QT2 Systems coach I have the best possible preparation on the coaching front. I am mentored by Jesse, I have the professional experience of Cait and Tim and many others. In fact race morning I sat with Tim Snow and got some good advice and thoughts on professionals in general.  I have resources in all of the amazing coaches on our staff. As an aside…. people ask me all the time if we are a tight-knit group of coaches here. I would say we are. I am in touch with everyone on a weekly basis if not a daily basis. You’d never know we were scattered all over the country because I feel like they are my neighbors. Between all of us we have a lot of fun as well. In my case….. too much fun.

I feel grateful beyond belief that I was invited to join this coaching team. My knowledge on a coaching front has grown exponentially, I no longer have to wade the waters alone. I am learning more every single day and every day I think to myself….. man …am I glad I accepted the invite.

I will be in Kona this October as a Coach to support all of our athletes at QT2, so stay tuned for more on that and the opportunity to chat about your athletic goals if you will be in town too. Oh….. and the underpants run. Look out. I will be there to rock it.

So cheers Jennie, on your first race as a professional! And as for my first race as the coach of a professional…… AWESOME!!!! Thank you Jennie for entrusting me with your athletic talent (and eating ice cream off the ground skills……) and thank you to Jesse and the team at QT2 for taking us both under your wings!!!!!!

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2 comments

  1. QT2 is one of the coaching programs I’m considering after my current contract runs out and it’s really helpful to read some of your posts. You give a full picture of QT2.


    • WONDERFUL NEWS KATIE! Let me know if you have ANY questions!



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