Friday, December 26, 2008

Time For A Change

I never thought that I needed a Triathlon coach. I’ve been in and out of this sport for a long time. When I started doing triathlon in 1983, the approach was simple we just trained with specialists in each sport. I swam with the college swim team. I rode with the area cyclists, and ran with the college cross country/ track runners. This, unfortunately, also was the first time I experienced the overtraining syndrome. Back in those days, more was more and the triathlon magazines were filled with articles on how much the top athletes in the sport were training. To achieve those levels you had to be able to reproduce what Scott Molina, Scott Tinley and Dave Scott were doing. It was not very sophisticated but I probably did a lot more intensity and volume at one time than I needed to do. I, like most triathletes, tended to push myself beyond my limit. A coach would have been a good idea back then if I had one.

With that said, when I embarked on my return to triathlon in 2005 after a long layoff, I began to look for a coach to help me reach my goal of completing my first Ironman. A very demanding job and family kept me from overtraining. The internet was filled with great information to help me. Gordo Byrn’s site and forum was my favorite. I trained on my own up until eight or so weeks before the day of my first Ironman in Florida. I was clueless on how to handle the nutrition, pacing, and approach the race. I needed some help. I needed a coach!

I ran into an old friend, Dave Latourette (pictured in both pics above) at the Degray Lake half ironman in 2005. He was the announcer at the race. He’s a really spunky guy with a great personality. I had raced with him before in shorter races back in the 90’s. I knew he had done quite a few Ironman races and even had raced in Kona several times. I mentioned to him about my upcoming Ironman and asked for his advice. He gave me some tips and mentioned that he was a coach and that he could help me with the final build to the race. I hired him on the spot. Eight weeks later, I picked up 5th in the 40-44 age group at Ironman Florida, a podium spot, and qualified for Kona. That began a three and a half year relationship that cumulated in top ten age group finish in Kona in 2007.

Dave is not only is a good coach but a great friend. I have referred him a number of clients who also have achieved great things in the sport.

Not many coaches are there for you in the meat of your “A” race. Dave was there riding his bike along side me at mile 24 of the marathon of an Ironman Hawaii giving me encouragement in Kona in 2006 and 2007. I was digging deep and my body was saying quit, Dave was there to motivate me and keep me on pace to finish strong both times.

Last year my motivation was low. I had some chronic aches and pains. My hours at work had increased and I just couldn’t get myself out the funk I was in to get out the door to train. My performance suffered. Dave advised me to take some time off. It was good advice from a good friend and coach.

A few months ago when my motivation began to return, I felt I needed to make a change in my training. During my downtime, I began studying and using performance computer modeling. Unfortunately, I also felt I needed a coach who was familiar with using models intimately. Training with these models take the junk out of training. A busy guy like me needs the maximum “bang for the buck”. So I chose to move on to someone with experience using this type of training. I thought who better to be my new taskmaster than Dr. Phil Skiba, who developed the software “Raceday” and is the owner of Physfarm . It’s a different approach, and the workouts vary a bit from what I was doing with Dave, but I’m enjoying the change of pace thus far.

I called Dave to tell him a few days before I made my change. He understood my feelings but it was still hard to tell him the news. It’s hard to let go of something that worked and move on to something new.

Dave still coaches my wife, Dana, and a few other Oklahoma superstars like Chuck Sloan, and Amanda Erwin.

I just want to say …Thanks Dave. We had a great ride!

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