Siri Lindley & Mat Steinmetz: The Coaches

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  • Published Aug 21, 2011
  • Updated Sep 21, 2011 at 7:19 PM UTC

MS: That’s what’s great. Julie has no issue if I do something to try to make Rinny faster on the bike. It obviously doesn’t involve the coaching aspect, but it involves improving her position on the bike and making her go faster. Julie has no issue with that. They’re both such good friends that they want the best for each other. If Julie doesn’t win, she wants Rinny to win, and I assume it’s the same way for Rinny as well. It makes it kind of cool.

SL: Absolutely. I think the unique thing between Julie and Rinny is that they so appreciate having another athlete that is pushing them to be better every single day. Because when you’re looking to get out there and beat a Chrissie Wellington, you know you’ve got to find every way you can to become that much better in all three disciplines. And they want that from each other, so the better they get the more they can push each other and inspire each other. I think the dynamic is incredibly powerful. It’s really awesome that they have that friendship.

MS: To have longevity in this sport, it has to be fun. And if you don’t want to train with anyone, you just want to be by yourself – I don’t think that can last. I don’t think the longevity can be there. I mean obviously they want to kill each other on the racecourse, but they train together, they do a lot of stuff together. And it’s exciting for them. It’s not another long boring day out by themselves. They have someone they can talk to and kind of enjoy it.

SL: Totally. I love that they’re out there to help each other in any way they can, because that will only help themselves as well. And Craig of course – from early on, Rinny and Craig have shared a great friendship. And I think with any great coach/athlete relationship there’s a lot of collaboration that goes on. These athletes are getting advice, whether from their friends or from people like you and me, and being able to bring that to the table with your coach and say, “Hey, these are things on my mind that I think maybe could work.” Collaborating with the athlete – I do a lot of that with Rinny. Especially because both of us – going into our first ironman, she’d never done one before and I’d never done one before. I’d done all my own research and she’d done all her own research, and obviously we both had this great passion to take on this challenge. But there’s a lot of collaboration that goes into a relationship where both people are taking something on for the first time.

MS: Definitely. As a coach, I feel like my role is more of a filter than anything else. If they’re getting these ideas, I definitely want them to come through me. As a coach you have to be very open-minded. You can’t dismiss everything that is presented. But I know during Kona race week I want my athletes to stay away from everyone else. I mean they may have had three days of rest, and then they do one workout, and some other athlete sees them and says, “You’re doing that this close to Kona?” I think they’re kind of just expressing their insecurities onto your athlete. I think as a coach you’re definitely a filter and it’s also a lot of psychology. It’s a lot of making sure that they’re making good decisions, not emotional decisions. And even though you’re emotionally involved with their success, you’re always trying to make good decisions that are unbiased and where you’re not emotionally attached to the decision.

SL: Absolutely. My biggest thing is, there are probably a hundred different ways to achieve the same success. But the best possible way is to choose one path and follow that path, to be committed to that path. That’s something that both Rinny and Leanda have been great about, following the plan to a “T”. Taking in the information from other people, but like you said, bringing it to the coach. And I’ll either say, “Ok, that’s great, we can work it in but it’s going to have to fit in with the way that we do things,” or I’ll just straight out say, “No, that’s not going to work. It totally goes against our philosophy and is going to throw us off our rhythm.” So it’s important for them to have that voice, and they may bring in something that can help you change things for the better. But a lot of athletes get caught up in listening to ten different people and all these different ideas and they try to put it all together with the plan that they’re already doing. That’s where they fall apart.

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