September 26, 2008

Just a thought...

Does a great coach have to be a former athlete at that sport?

I used to think that was the case. I was positive that the only sports I could ever coach would be triathlon, or its sub sports. I remember a (heated) discussion I had with one of my lecturers at university during the first few months of my first year. My argument was that there is no way someone who have never competed in a certain sport could coach it. The discussion came to an end when the class ended, after both of us tried to make our point, much to the amusement of the rest of my classmates :)

Needless to say, I was wrong and he was right. By graduation, I even admitted it out loud... especially because I managed to land a job with Yachting NZ as their coach development manager. I have never sailed, even though I was eager to learn. I never ended up taking that position because of immigration rules. Its a bit of a long story... so lets just say that I couldn't get a work visa in time and ended up in Victoria, BC instead. Funny how things turn out...

The first time I realized I can coach a sport I never competed in, was when I started working with 5-14 year old kids as a track & field coach at the end of my first year in university. Since my education consist of a sports coaching degree, I spend a lot of time coaching... we had to spend a significant amount of time coaching U14 teams.

I have always supplemented my triathlon training with cross country racing and road running. I was a part of the national development track and field team, as a middle distance and cross country runner, but I never did any of the field events. When I started coaching the kids at the Sumner running club, I coached them for ALL track & field events, even those that I never competed in, and I was coaching them with a lot of success... out club was growing rapidly and we were well ranked in the south island. I liked it so much, that I stayed for the cross country season and then for another 2 full seasons. The only reason I left was because I moved to Canada!

I work closely with endurance athletes on a daily basis. I have coached marathon and ultramarathon runners, even though I never ran either myself ( I will this year though). I have coached countless Ironman triathletes, even though I used to be an ITU girl, that dabbled in the 70.3 distance every now and then.

Does my experience as a high performance triathlete help me as a coach? Yes. Do I consider it the main factor that makes me a good coach? No. If I did, I would not fly across the world to New Zealand for coaching and sport science education...

My point? With the right education and coaching experience, you can be a good coach in a sport/discipline within a sport you never competed in. It may be an advantage, but not a prerequisite. In addition, elite athletes do not always make good coaches. Some do, but many don't... So what does make one a good coach? That is material for another post :)

September 18, 2008

Critical Analysis #2

Check out the links below... The Science of Sport is a great blog... these guys are critical in their thinking and they have the guts to break some myths and say it like it is, which I am still learning how to do ;)

This links pretty well to one of my previous posts from earlier this month, Except I was not too blunt in it...

The Triathlon Book blog, is another excellent display of critical thinking and excellent writing style. It is well worth the read!.

September 16, 2008

Struggle is good for you

"Nothing in life just happens. It isn't enough to believe in something... you have to have stamina, to struggle... to meet obstacles and overcome them" Golda Meir

Things don't come easy; to achieve your goals you have to put in the hard work and be prepared for struggles, as they are an integral part of racing and training. Things do not always go as planned and you have to be tough to overcome obstacles... I think it makes you stronger, keeps you on your toes and helps you appreciate success so much more...

I'm sure this quote will mean something different to you than it does to me. I hope it will teach you something and inspires you :)

September 13, 2008

Endurance and Fitness Weekend

I have teamed up with Linda Walker, of Brentwood Massage and Physiotherapy clinic to deliver an interactive weekend of seminars and active workshops to educate and deliver evidence based information to help you achieve your goals, whatever they may be!

Day 1 - Saturday, October 25th 08
Sports nutrition for endurance athletes during the winter
Running biomechanics workshop
New tools for injury management and prevention workshop

Day 2 - Sunday, October 26th 08
Injury prevention strategies
Compression socks - the exercise physiology perspective
Core stability for endurance athletes workshop
Training with running zones - pace vs heart rate

Location - Brentwood Bay Massage and Physiotherapy Clinic
Time - 10:00am - 3:00pm
Cost - $70/ one day
$100/ both days

For more information, call 250-652-6515 or 250-686-8827

Download the poster below (or email me at to get a copy of the poster emailed to you) and feel free to spread the word :)

September 9, 2008

Critical analysis

My latest assignment as part of my post grad studies in sports nutrition was a really interesting one, but a really hard one too. We were given a recent scientific research article to critique. As not all scientific research actually has value, our task was to read the paper and find its strengths and weaknesses. Sounds simple, right? Well, it wasn't. I read the article inside out around 5 times, and in retrospect I should have read it a couple more times, for good measure.

I will not get into details about the article itself (unless someone is actually interested in the effects of GPLC on aerobic and anaerobic performance?!), but I will say this - most endurance athletes actively seek knowledge, which is fantastic. However, do not believe everything you read... even if you read a scientific research paper that was published in a pear reviewed journal, it may not provide you with appropriate advice... and it may have no scientific or practical significance at all.

A few basic key things to consider...
1. Who are the researchers affiliated with? Who did they receive research grants from?
2. Who were the participant? Trained athletes? sedentary individuals?
3. What was the study design? Was the research done in a lab? field setting? time trial? during a race? etc...
4. How recent is that paper?
5. Read a few more articles on the same topic... don't just go by one research paper...
6. Seek professional opinion. If you have read an article that you think may be of value to you, ask a professional in that field to read it and evaluate its content...

Have a great Tuesday... I have to get back to reading research papers about water and salt supplementation and cramping... that's for my next assignment. As this is an area with a lot of controversy around it (that is basically the point of the assignment...), I will likely share my conclusions here as soon as I am done :)


September 7, 2008

IMC 08!

Ironman Canada was an action packed day, as usual... Cold water, really strong winds, and rain. Not ideal, but you do your best to work with what you get on race day... I guess how you deal with it is what separates the men from the boys and the women from the girls, or something like that!

10 PT Performance Training athletes jumped in the water and 9 crossed the finish line. The one that did not cross that line, made a very good and smart decision not do so and I truly admire him for it. Sometimes, it takes more guts to not finish, than to finish at all cost, especially when that cost can be high. But I digress... that can be a topic for another post! On top of those 10, another 10 have worked with me to refine their bike position during the season and had great bike rides.

Here are the results of our athletes!

Mark Ritchie - (M40-44) 11:59, first Ironman, second triathlon ever (first one was a sprint tri!)
Karmen Jongewaars - (W30-34) 12:36, over 20 mins PB, second Ironman
John Weaver - (M45-49) 12:50, first Ironman, second triathlon ever, just learned to swim a year ago!
Sabrina Boechler - (W25-29) 15:13, first Ironman, despite a crazy paramedic work schedule, surgery (tonsils) in June and illness on race week...
Chris Selenz - (W50-54) 15:30, second Ironman within 6 weeks, after a PB in IM Germany!
Mark Harris - (M35-39) 15:52, first Ironman and he is already signed up for IMC 09!
Bert Heeringa - (M50-54) 16:22, first Ironman... well done :)
Suzie Cutt - (W40-44) 16:34, 3rd Ironman, after a 9 year break from the sport.
Suzanne Bate - (W35-39) 16:47, first Ironman, after a fantastic year of training.

Each and every one of these athletes had a different goal coming into this race, and in a day this long, things don't always go as planned... but all of them finished happy with what they have achieved, as they should... :)


September 6, 2008

"It doesn't get easier, you just go faster"

A great quote by the great Greg Lemond. If you do not know who that is, chances are you stumbled across this blog by accident and you will never make the same mistake again... or perhaps you are interested in learning who that is? In that case, go do your homework and come back afterwards... ;)

I think that quote is a great reflection on the kind of athletes I attract... the kind that a quote like that puts a smile on their face and makes them nod their head in agreement... the kind that wants to push their limits and take it to the next level.

Not all of us are born with the ability to become an elite level athlete... so the mindset I refer to means different things to all of us. For some it will be to move from participating, to competing. For others it will be moving higher in classification in their age group, and then perhaps placing in their age group too. Then there are those who progress from competing at the age group level to the pro level and from rookie pro to seasoned pro...

So if your goal is to get faster, it does not get easier; not at training and not at racing. You work hard, then you race just as hard :)


September 1, 2008


I love my athletes. I really enjoy working with each and every one of them, and apparently it goes both way. We had a team party on Sat eve and they completely surprised me with some goodies. They went to the troubles of getting me a swimming parka jacket and got my logo embroider on the back and front. I haven't had one of these jackets since my swimming days, and that was a while ago... it will keep me warm and dry during those winter track sessions, where I nearly freeze to death! THANK YOU :)

I also got a Lululemon gift certificate (I will definitely put it into good use!) and a couple of cards that made me cry (yes, I wear my heart on my sleeve). I was lost for words, and that is something that does not happen very often...

So this is to all the athletes I have worked with this season - THANKS. YOU ARE ALL AWESOME!!!!!

Help an athlete get to Kona!

Adam O'Meara had a great day at IMC this year. He finished second in his age group (25-29) and got a Kona spot! Go to Peninsula Runners and buy a raffle ticket (or two) to make his trip to Kona possible... :)