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How Coaching Helped Me Reach My Goals (and Can Help You, Too)

It’s You Can Do It Week here on FBG, so we thought it would be fun for each FBG to share a little something we overcame, conquered or faced — plus a haiku (or two). Hopefully our stories inspire you to try something new, face fears and, generally, just GO FOR IT!

I’ve been lucky enough to finish a number of athletic endeavors I never thought I’d even attempt. When I was in high school and had a hard time fighting through my asthma (and generally dislike of running) to run the required two miles in under 18 or 19 minutes in order to make the basketball team, I wouldn’t have believed anybody who told me I’d one day run a half marathon. And another. And another. Voluntarily, even.

And I definitely wouldn’t have believed that I would set my sights on a half Iron distance triathlon, but I have — that’s in the works for 2014, and after completing the Leadman Tri, I feel like it’s absolutely doable. But I couldn’t have gotten to this point without a lot of help and support, not only in the form of friends and family and training buddies, but also with a coach.

race photos

Most of these moments would never have happened without the help of a coach. Truly.

I’ve worked with my coach, Patrick, since I started training for the St. Anthony’s Triathlon in 2011. It was my first Olympic distance tri, and without a personalized training plan (and someone to both hold me accountable and talk me through the bad days), I don’t know that I ever would have signed up, and I’m certain I wouldn’t have finished anywhere near my goal time. I work with Coach Karyn on swimming once or twice a week, and that’s taken me from looking like Tarzan in the water to — dare I say it? — a real swimmer who has even competed in masters meets.

What’s funny is, when I tell people I work with a coach, they automatically assume I’m training to be an elite athlete, and, I mean, I hate to disappoint anybody, but that’s seriously not the case. I believe anybody who’s  interested in getting better at her chosen sport could benefit from working with a coach, whether it’s just for a few lessons or as part of a long-term training plan. And it turns out I’m not the only one.

Personal coaching is becoming more and more commonplace for everyone from high school athletes to senior citizens looking for something a little more active than shuffleboard. CoachUp is a nationwide service designed to pair athletes with specialized coaches in pretty much any sport, so they’ve definitely seen this trend emerge. Since working with a coach was so helpful for me, I thought I’d have CoachUp weigh in on a few things someone curious about personal coaching might need to know.

Who needs a coach? How do I know if a coach is a good investment?

Anyone who is looking to take their fitness, health or “game” to another level would benefit from the help of a private coach.  Even someone looking to spice up their day-to-day workout can benefit.

Some questions to help you answer  whether or not a coach is right for you:

  • Do I learn best in a 1:1 environment or in a group?
  • Do I feel comfortable asking personal or “silly” questions to my usual group instructor or a trainer at my gym?
  • Do I see results when I push myself without the help of a sports or fitness professional?
  • Am I able to make a new habit “stick” without help?

Who doesn’t need a coach? Or is this something that’s helpful for pretty much everyone?

This really is something that is helpful for everyone, all ages and all activities included. Everyone could benefit from having a little extra attention paid to their technique and form across all sports or fitness routines. Beyond form, a coach is there to help inspire and motivate an athlete through the physical challenges and difficulties. A coach is there to analyze a unique situation and then provide an athlete with the tools and knowledge to make improvements or changes to reach their goals.

What are some common misconceptions about personal coaches?

People think coaches are just for sports like basketball, football, soccer, etc. There are coaches for fitness, yoga, Pilates, dance, karate, paddleboard and the list goes on. You might typically see them as group instructors at a studio or gym, but they also offer their service as a private coach because they know the value of one-on-one coaching.

A great example to look at is yoga. Complex positions like headstands are often introduced at the end of a group class. You  might get at best 1 to 2 minutes of help from the instructor, or you might have stick around after class to get help while another class funnels into the studio. This is not an ideal learning scenario. That’s like explaining the Pythagorean  Theorem to a student while the next math class comes in; the student is not being set up for success or understanding.

How can I make the most of having a coach?

A coach has expert knowledge and years of experience to help develop a thoughtful plan for an athlete to achieve their goals.  To get the most out of a private coach relationship, an athlete must bring dedication, commitment and a positive attitude to their training sessions.

And now, for a bonus haiku:

Sweating profusely
Is Coach trying to kill me?
Next race, a PR

Have you or would you ever use a personal coach to help you achieve your goals? Why or why not? —Kristen

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