January 26, 2010

The bad, the good and the great

Think back, reflect on the best teachers or coaches you ever had. Chances are, it wasn't what they taught you that made you love learning from them... It was likely their personality, unique way of delivering information, ability to lite a fire in your belly and make you work harder than you ever though possible.

I had many coaches between the ages of 5 and 22. Some were bad, some were good, and a few were great.

The Bad
Lets start with the bad coaches. They didn't necessarily write a bad training program and it wasn't their inability to deliver a training session. In general, what made them bad coaches was their lack of passion and dedication. It was all about ego, all about them, and not about developing great athletes.

The Good
The good coaches were kind of in between. They wrote a good program, had a lot of experience and knowledge, they cared about the team and loved coaching. But something was missing. It seemed like they facilitated an environment that catered for mediocre results. It was OK if someone didn't show up for a training session, it was just fine if athletes were always late, and the athletes never got to have any input in the general program, races or training sessions. There was no commitment, no connection, no high performance attitude. It may work for some, which is why I classified them under the good, not bad category. It didn't work for me though, as I was seeking greatness.

The great
I had a handful of great coaches while I was racing, but there is one that made the most impact. When I was 18, a running coach told I can keep doing what I was doing and be a good runner, or I can make some changes and become a significantly better runner. I didn't really think twice - I jumped with both feet into a training program that completely took me out of my comfort zone... and it payed off.

That coach had this amazing ability to get the most out of me. He gave me feedback without sugar coating anything and without BS. He was passionate about running, coaching, going faster, and he was tough: It was either GO time, or GO HOME time. He didn't only make me a better and faster runner, he continuously made me step out my comfort zone, he innovated and he engaged me in the process, which is something that made a world of difference. He had a 'go out there and WIN' mentality that I loved, and I ran faster and faster as a result.

Now, go back to the top of this post and read the first paragraph again. If you are an athlete, what kind of coach are you looking for? Obviously, a coach that I classified as bad or good may be classified as a great coach by another athlete! If you are a coach, what kind of attitude do you have towards coaching?

One thing to remember though, is that there are no right or wrong answers here. For example, the coach I classified as great, had the same attitude towards training and racing as me, which is why it worked, but I am pretty sure he would have scared away a beginner runner and they would have classified him differently than I have...

Take home message here? If you’re an athlete looking for a coach, do your homework to find the right coach for you. Ask a prospective coach the right questions and find the right coaching fit. The same thing applied if you're a coach!

January 21, 2010

Coconut/banana cookies

These little cookies are grain & gluten free, but so good! The recipe that follows is my second try at making these. The first try tasted great, but the texture wasn't right... so I went back to the drawing board, added a few things and viola! A significant improvement! Try them and let me know what you think :)

What you need
  • 1/3 cup coconut flour
  • 2 tbsp almond flour
  • 1 ripe banana, mashed 
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 3 tbsp non sweetened almond milk
  • 1 tsp hemp hearts
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • Unsweetened shredded coconut, for rolling
How to
  • Pre heat oven to 375 degrees
  • Combine wet ingredients well and add to the dry ingredients. Mix well
  • Create little balls with the dough and roll in the shredded coconut
  • Place on a cookie sheet and flatten with your fingertips
  • Bake for ~10-12 minutes
Mine looked like this:

Back on the bike!

I took a Stevens cross bike for a test ride today. I decided it would be a great idea to try out a cross bike while coaching the boys (Leif, Kamal, Derek & Nick).

It was awesome!

I haven't been riding much (OK, at all) for a few months because I was trying to pick up my running miles, but last week I jumped back on my trusty Scott for a very short ride. It felt awful! I felt uncoordinated and just couldn't get comfortable. It felt like it has been too long since I rode my bike: kind of a wake up call! I really love riding bikes, so I decided that I need to find the balance between achieving my running goals and my love to anything with 2 wheels and no engine.

On Tuesday morning, I headed to Horus Bikes in Vic West with Leif as they will be helping him out with a bike, and there it was. A beautiful Stevens cross bike (you may have seen Katie Compton ride one of those), their top of the line model... all shiny and pretty... in my size too! You can't go wrong with German engineering, right? So I took it for a spin today and rode some of the Mt Doug trails with the boys, while they were warming up and cooling down. It was so responsive! It did everything I wanted it to do and since I haven't done cross riding or mountain biking for a few years, its not my technical skills, its definitely the bike! I will take it for another spin tomorrow and then take it back... :( I really want to get it, but my bank account might not be able to handle that one right now!

A recipe for gluten free/grain free coconut cookies coming in the next post...


January 13, 2010

Questions, questions, questions...

Every now and then I get a random email from someone I don't know very well asking training related questions, or get asked questions when I run into people at a race, at the clinic during a bike fit, etc... The questions are typically along the lines of 'what should I focus on leading up to my Ironman race?' or 'how many hours a week should I run?' and 'what intensity should I train at?'. My answer is typically 'I don't know', solely because I don't have all the information I need about the person.

I have said it before, and will say it again, this time in bold & capital letters:


Obviously, some principles remain the same. The human body adapts to stress in a similar way, you are not as unique as you may think you are... In saying that: the other stresses in your life may not be the same as your friends/training buddies.

Someone who does not work and has all the time in the world to train & recover from workouts will get a different answer than someone who has to juggle work, family and other commitments. Than there is age, goals, schedule, family, priorities, training & racing history, health issues, etc...

All these factors are things I need to know before giving you an answer. I don't like making assumptions and you don't want to get an answer based on assumptions (Oops, this is an assumption too. Maybe you do want to get an answer based on assumptions? If that is the case, post your question on a chatline/forum instead of emailing me...).

I have written a couple of similar posts before, here and here, and something tells me this is not the last post on this topic... I don't do anything generic, not training plans and not answers to questions. I will, however, answer your questions if you answer mine first :)


January 4, 2010

Update & running training camp!

It has been almost a week since I posted my Do-Not-Do-List for 2010, and so far I have made some progress. For example, instead of checking my email every 5 seconds, I have managed to reduce the frequency to only every 10 seconds. Progress, even small, is a good thing, right? and old habits seem to die hard. I calculated that if I reduce the frequency by 5 seconds a week, I might check my emails at a 'normal' frequency by the end of the decade. Hmmm... Haha.

I will also resume the work on the new & improved website this week. I contacted the company that started the work last fall and we will pick thing off where we left them. I'm pretty excited about it!

As for everything else? Its in the works...

If you have set some running related goals for the new year, we have the camp to get you jump started! Scott Simpson and I are running a technique focus running camp in two weeks. For more information, either email me or go here! It will be a great camp!