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Siri Lindley & Mat Steinmetz: The Coaches

  • By Triathlete.com
  • Published Aug 21, 2011
  • Updated Sep 21, 2011 at 7:19 PM UTC

MS: Exactly. And then you don’t know if your plan worked. They might be doing secret workouts and they say, “Hey this didn’t go right.” As a coach you think: What went wrong? Maybe they had an easy run, but instead they ran hard, and then they’re tired for the next session. That communication has to be there. I agree with what you said – you want to give the athlete a voice. You don’t want to push them to forget everything they know and do things your way. Because they know how their body feels more so than we do. But they do get so much information coming in. And obviously these athletes have been successful in the past by doing certain things, so you want to listen to them. But you want to incorporate some of those ideas into the plan, versus changing the approach week to week. You want to pick a direction and then be somewhat adaptable.

SL: Absolutely. And if a coach doesn’t give their athlete a voice, that’s when mistakes happen. That open communication is the key to any great successful coaching relationship. If an athlete is doing secret training and not telling me about it, the first thing I do is think: How did I get this wrong? I really felt confident about this plan, it totally should have worked, it should have never resulted in this result, so what did I do wrong? And that could be so potentially dangerous, because I may go back and change something that would have worked great, because I didn’t know they were doing the easy things flat out hard, or doing extra workouts. But if the communication is there – I mean with Rinny, we just had a really big weekend of training, and she told me the one thing she did differently was an hour run off this huge long ride. I’m like: Rinny, you can’t do that. Because that totally throws off the balance for the next day. And she gets that, she knows – but that’s always going to happen at times. But when the athlete at least communicates that, then I can go back to the table and look at what we have for the coming week and make adjustments now that will support what happened on Saturday. As long as the communication’s there, you won’t get into any trouble. It may not be ideal, but you can work it out without having it create problems.

MS: That’s what’s great about working with a professional athlete who doesn’t necessarily have to go to work Monday through Friday. You can be very adaptable. It’s funny, too, because Julie and Craig do a lot of riding together, so I get both of them kind of telling on the other one. For example, this weekend for Julie was supposed to be a long ride up in the mountains, nothing crazy. And I get reports from Craig that she’s crushing everyone. She’s dropping people on climbs. So it’s good to have that information. But also, someone like Julie, unless she’s feeling all fresh like on a race morning, nothing ever feels good to her. I’m going to hear, “Oh man, I’m smashed, I’m tired.” So it’s also good to get a report from someone else saying she’s killing it.

SL: I don’t know about you, but with the majority of my athletes, when you’re in a hard training block and you’re working towards a massive goal, it is rare that you feel good. But the performance is there, and they’re getting out of the session what they need to be getting out if it. But when you’re in a big block it is hard to feel fresh and amazing – it doesn’t really happen.

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