Monday, November 7, 2011

Letting Them Beat You Occasionally: A Coach's Journey (Part 2)

Another Coaching Milestone occurred whilst I was working with a fellow trainer, Enrico Varella in Singapore.  One of my hobbies is competing in triathlons – Olympic and Ironman distances.  Enrico was a very dedicated bodybuilder and athlete, however he could not imagine swimming, riding and running in a one event, let alone competing in an Ironman race. After much coercing and convincing him that any one can do it – as long as you are willing to put the work in – he started to train for a short distance race. Over the next six months, I would send words of encouragement and training programs but he seemed to have hit a plateau. So, the next trip I was in Singapore we linked up for a run after one of our workshops.

The goal was to complete a 10km run. We aimed to run along the East Coast of Singapore for 5km then turn around at the halfway point and run back. After about 2km, I noticed he was taking it very, very easy and lagging behind. I asked,  "What are you waiting for, a taxi?" You have the ability and fitness to make the 10km easy. He informed me that he had only run 10km, two other times but very slow.

So, I set him a challenge: he was to turn at the 5km mark and run back to the start point, I would run 5.5km and chase him to the finish. Enrico would run 10km, and I would run 11km all up.  Last one back had to buy dinner.   We got to the 5 km mark and he turned for home, I bid him farewell and headed for the 5.5km mark.  As I ran off I noticed his pace had increased considerably. So I gave it all and ran as hard as I could. With 1km to go I had closed the gap to within 100 metres and started to yell out, "I'm closing up behind you!" Enrico lifted the pace like a man possessed. I reduced the gap to 20 metres and backed off to allow him to cross the line first very exhausted. He had run a PB, the fastest 10km ever for him.

Since then he has gone on to complete 11 Ironman races and is highly recognised throughout Singapore for his rapid progression and dedication towards training. Sometimes we have to set ourselves challenging goals to stretch and achieve our real potential. Sometimes we need to take a loss to have a win also. Well done Enrico, it was a pleasure buying the dinner. You are an IRONMAN!

EV: Thanks a million - mate [shakes his head in disbelief]! What was it like to qualify, and complete Kona?

CH: Fantastic, the whole journey was very fulfilling. It was a sense of achievement and closure. After all the years of hard training and sacrifices made by my loved ones and myself, it was nice to achieve the goals I had set.

EV: Do you think triathletes need coaching?

CH: Yes, definitely. There is so much to learn about the sport. I have a different coach for Swimming, Riding and Running. Other aspects that need attention include nutrition, equipment selection, mental aspects, (mind control), race tactics, tapering before a race, post training and race recovery, physiology, maintaining work/life harmony and most important of all, your loved ones.

EV: How can triathletes get on a coaching program?

CH: There are many different means available for triathletes these days, ranging from triathlon magazines, the Internet, online coaching, tri clinics to personal coaches. I think it is important to seek out a coach who you respect and is able to tailor the coaching program to suit your individual needs. You need to be considerate of your work, family, mental and physical situations, and adaptable enough to adjust the program accordingly.

EV: Thanks, Fox for the interview!

Ironman World Championships 2005, Kona, Hawaii – 10 hours 38 min
2002 Forster Australian Ironman – 10 hours 32 minutes
2005 Forster Australian Ironman: 10 hours 2 minutes
2010 Ironman New Zealand: Sub-11:00
2010 Ironman Western Australia: Sub-11:00
Australian Defence Olympic Triathlon Championships - 2 hours 2 min 35 seconds
1st place: Fuji-Xerox Singapore Open Water Swim 2006 (1.5km)
1st place: Fuji-Xerox Singapore Open Water Swim 2007 (1km)
2nd place: OSIM International Triathlon (Singapore) 2007, 45-49 years
And many more!
Craig Holland provides Leadership Training and Motivational Coaching to develop your peak performance mentally and physically. He can be contacted at [Editor: I have since progressed into a Boston Qualifier, sub-3:30 marathoner, ultra-marathoner, and aiming for my 12th Ironman finish in March.]

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