Thursday, 24 April 2014 09:44
This November, Hicksville resident Marlo Signoracci will head to Florida for Ironman, a demanding, long-distance triathlon that includes biking, running and swimming. Here, she shares her story as she prepares for one of the most physically challenging athletic events out there.
Leadership, like coaching, is fighting for the hearts and souls of men and getting them to believe in you.
Why hire a triathlon coach?When I embarked on this journey, I knew I could not do this alone. I knew I would need someone to guide me physically, nutrionally and mentally.
At the end of last season, I raced my first 1/2 Ironman, Toughman. I did not achieve the results that I had hoped to achieve. My own efforts to improve my performance were not successful so I needed a change in perspective and training routine. After participating in a triathlon with him, several conversations which included the confidence to sign up for Ironman Florida, I engaged South Shore Tri Coach triathlete and Coach Anthony Beck.
There were three main criteria that I looked for in my coaching relationship: Trust, Specificity and Objectivity.
(1) Trust. I am not an experienced Ironman-distance triathlete. I only have one season under my belt, which included a Super Sprint, Sprint, Olympic and a ½ Ironman. In hiring Anthony as my coach, I had to be prepared to “throw away” my own biases and experiences to follow what he prescribed. Essentially, I had to take a “leap of faith.” My trust in Anthony as a coach is based on his own results, his reputation and my conversations with him. If I can’t trust my coach or second-guess what he is telling me, then why bother with a coach?
(2) Specificity. I went to Anthony with a clear goal: I wanted a training plan that would help get me to a level of performance in Ironman-distance triathlons. I wanted a coach who had “walked the walk.” Plus, I wanted a coach to whom I could ask questions about pacing, nutrition, etc. based on his own experiences versus something that he read in a book. The workouts that Anthony gives me are specifically designed to enable me to achieve my Ironman-distance race goals.
(3) Objectivity. As a triathlete myself, I can easily look at what I am doing and say “Do more of this” or “You’re doing too much of that,” etc., but I find it difficult to objectively look at myself. I tend to rationalize what I “should be doing” to what I “feel like doing.” Although the rationalization does not necessarily bring poor results, I was not improving so I would argue that rationalization does not bring optimal results. My coach also serves as a “sounding board” for my training, my issues and any questions that I have.
Those three factors served as the foundation for what I needed in a coach. There are some other factors that I considered as a well:
• Level of interaction and type of interaction: How much interaction did I expect from my coach? Do I prefer to communicate by email, phone or in person? Am I or the coach expected to initiate communication?
• Experience — athlete, coach: Has the coach worked with athletes with similar goals and experiences to my own? Does the coach have the knowledge and resources to provide me with the information that I need?
• Personality match: Is the coach someone I can talk to easily and understands my motivations, communication style, etc.?
• Philosophy: Does the coach prescribe to a training philosophy that I believe in?
Truthfully, coaching is not for everyone nor is every coach right for every person. As the athlete, I still have to do the workouts consistently (key word: me) and I’m the one who is actually racing, not the coach. The goal of the coach, therefore, should be to help me get myself to where I want to be with the understanding that I am ultimately responsible for my performance.
The final question that I asked myself before I hired my coach was: “How much is it worth to me to finish an Ironman?” For me the answer is “priceless.”