Some of you will know I’ve stepped down as head coach, and some of you may have not even met me or knew I existed! I’ve been lucky to be surrounded by a group of extremely knowledgeable and passionate coaches, so it’s very much been a team effort. We are lucky to have a large number of qualified coaches in the club (10 level 1, 10 level 2 and 1 level 3 British Triathlon, 4 triathlon activators, 2 British Cycling coaches and 2 England Athletics coaches!), expecting two new British Cycling coaches and two new triathlon coaches in the autumn.
One of the challenges of a club of this size (currently 200+ adult and 50+ youth members) is to provide appropriate coaching for our members at both ends of the spectrum: those new the sport and keen to dip their toes into the water of triathlon for some fun and enjoyment, and those at the sharp end of competition, heading off to World Championships representing GBR. Not only that, but triathlon gives us a range of distances from supersprint right up to ironman distance. It’s not an easy task to achieve! I like to hope we achieve our goal, providing something for everyone.
One of the things I’m proud we have achieved this year is getting our coached open water swim coaching (affectionately known as COWS) running regularly throughout the open water season, as well as 4 novice sessions for British Triathlon. We’ve introduced the immensely popular MyRide sessions, regular Sunday road rides and trail runs, and a weekly presence at the track for focused run technique and fitness. I have also organised coach education, with workshops by Fiona Ford from Swim Smooth, and open water swim safety skills and first aid education delivered by Susan Reynolds from Blue Response.
None of this would be possible without our wonderful volunteer coaches- don’t forget all our coaches turn up in rain and wind for the love of the sport, and the satisfaction of seeing you turn up, train, improve and achieve things you maybe didn’t think possible. The coaches all want to train and race as well. If you’ve learnt something or achieved something thanks to our coaches, do remember to share it with them at the next opportunity!
What have I learnt as Head Coach? Although I achieved a few things, there were lots more things I would have loved to integrate but ran out of time in the day. Yet again I remind myself that what I think could be possible with my time, and what is actually achievable are different things. I found it’s impossible to coach regularly and focus on your own training plan. My training became ad hoc and unfocussed. I decided to enter sprint distances this year as it was easier to fit in around unstructured training. Somehow that plan worked and I enjoyed not having to worry about time or distance when training, I could just enjoy exercising and being outside (or inside with music for MyRide). I think it’s easy to forget when we have a very structured training programme that we do this to enjoy it- none of us are professional athletes trying to make a living from sport. Sometimes it’s nice to leave the Garmin/Polar/Suunto at home and go and enjoy the scenery and social time.
Lastly, a big thank you to cycle lead coach Rick and run lead coach Ian, and my right-hand man Sir Chairman Swickers and of course ALL our amazing coaches. I won’t disappear completely, I’ll still be along to coach and train (with or without my Garmin).