Wednesday, September 10, 2014

What's Your Personal Best?

Hey readers - apart from my local Alaska Tri Aspire development squad here in The Philippines, I coach online at any given time ~10 age groupers spread around the globe! Some of which I connected with over the TeamTBB coaching while others was simply word-of-mouth or getting a random message over Facebook or meeting at a race!

This past August I had a couple age groupers succeed using very different paths into the sport - both of which I have been coaching for quite some time & never meet in person, yet ;)

Triathlon is a great sport in the sense that you’re PERSONAL BEST is not exclusively quantified on how you stack up in the overall results or in your age group, often, the road towards race day can provide an athlete with much more tangible returns than a podium or best time.

When TeamTBB coaching started-up in 2010, american Don Herron from Kansas was one of the first ones to sign up as a long time fan & poster on the team forum - I have been coaching him every summer ever since. Don has been racing since 1981, competed in over 300 triathlons of all distance/formats, one of the founders of the Kansas city tri-club in 1992, coaches youth triathletes & organizes one of the longest running youth triathlon's in the USA!

Let's just say: Don has paid his dues to the sport all the while accumulating many race t-shirts ;)

At the end of the 2012, at age 58, Don was diagnosed with a disk herniation in his lower back from the regular wear's & tear's of life. It gave him very serious back pain & leg numbness, often worst the day after a good workout. Since he works as a lawyer, it mean's he has to spend a quite a bit of time sitting at a desk, of which is very destructive for the lower back...

He was advised by ‘specialists’ to get surgery…But over a Skype talk, we discussed various alternative & non invasive approaches to healing his back & returning to competition. He bought an inversion table, put heat on his back/leg religiously & became more conscious when he had to sit for long duration's!

It took about 2 years of micro adjustments, I included a lot of walking in his run training, doing most of his heart-rate training on the swim, joining aquabike races & slowly re-built his fitness…then just last month, Don won his age group in 2 consecutive local events, including one in a sprint finish in the final 600m! In both races, he used his strength on the bike & a sound walk/run approach to show what he’s made off!

While many would have thrown in the towel, especially during those first few triathlon's back where he got passed a lot on the run during his walk/run intervals, Don simply keep going at the sport that he loves, where being on the podium is good, but maintaining his health was greatER!!!

~Make a way or make an excuse~

The 2nd story comes from a French athlete name Damien Leonardi from Paris who I started to work with in early 2012. On our first Skype talk, one of his first questions was if I coached athletes who don’t do Ironman's, as he was looking to complete his first Olympic distance!

Over the next few years, Damien gradually moved up distances as he managed to get stronger & fitter, on low but quality volume, of which is a rare commodity with neo-triathletes, as many have the habit of grabbing the sport by the throat from the get go!

As he neared his first Ironman distance event at Challenge Vichy , Damien battled with some plantar fasciitis where his performance on the run became a bit question mark? After feeling his way through it & taking the safe options, the former national level breast-stroker managed a solid 9h49 finish, getting 3rd in the 40-44 age group & finishing 33rd overall in front of his enthusiastic family!

Crossing the finish line!

Damien with his kids post race!

At the end of the day, your personal best may come in a different package than the others crossing the finish line - it can come in the form of over-coming adversity or in a flawless execution, with everything in between.

It will how-ever, often be sum up similarly: the self satisfaction after paying your ‘dues’ to the process, which is individual, relative & only quantifiable by those who are cognitive of the up-and-down's sport can throw at you!

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