Coaching Philosophy

So, I am through with Part 1 of the coaching certification I am working on and one thing is becoming very clear. As I work through the questions, and now heading into the practical section, the areas I am getting incorrect are the areas where my personal feelings, experiences, do not mesh with the conventional wisdom presented in the course sections. I knew going in that I would not fully agree 100% with everything I was going to read, so this was no real surprise, but I am finding that, like most things, I have a hard time putting my own beliefs aside in order to “answer the questions correctly” so when presented with a question I drift to what I believe to be true, and not necessarily the correct answer according to the curriculum. This is a necessary in order to pass the course, which I did, but probably with a lower grade then I would have had if I had gone back and looked up the answers when I was confused. Since I was able to take the Part 1 Test twice, I figured I would answer them the first time without resorting to the “open book” and see how I did, then if needed take it again. Since I passed I have no need to go back, which means (1) I retained what was taught pretty well, and (2) most of what I feel to be true actually does match. But what doesn’t?

Part of the course teaches that through the course of your coaching career you will develop your own philosophy. Since my beliefs are based on what I have personally experienced in the 5 years I have been training and competing, and are focused on the types of people I want to coach, my philosophy is geared in that direction, and doesn’t always jibe with the coaching principles outlined, which tend to be toward the elite age grouper. I will more than likely not coach that level of athlete. The people I will be coaching are probably going to look like me, or at least what I looked liked when I started.

So, as I work through the final section, I have started thinking more about what my philosophy currently is, and this is what I have come up with as of today. These may or may not change over the next years as I gain more experience.

The basis is the same as the mantra on the back of my shirts, and what we say at the end of the Back of Pack Endurance Podcast; Swim Calm, Bike Strong, and Run Steady. But what does this mean to me, and how do I express that to a coaching client. This is what I have in my head right now:

Swim Calm

  • Importance placed on the mental aspect of the swim and developing form
  • Speed comes as the athlete becomes more comfortable with form and being in the water
  • Time in the pool builds confidence
  • Racing builds confidence
  • Do what is needed during a race to maintain calmness, including starting in the back and to the side and not getting in the middle of the scrum. Use the rules as you need to. If you need to stop and stand (if you’re able) do it. If you need a rest, grab a kayak or buoy. You cannot win a triathlon in the swim, but if you go out too fast or get panicked, you can ruin the whole experience.

Bike Strong

  • Weekday training based on intense intervals over long rides
  • Longer rides on the weekend based on saddle time over speed, i.e. getting the body prepared for being in the saddle 4-7 hours.
  • Again, speed comes as endurance builds
  • Train to the course of your “A” race

Run Steady

  • As heavy athletes, the run can be a painful experience.
  • Form over speed
  • Run/walk intervals, gradually increasing run sections over time as the body allows. Emphasize walking is not defeat.
  • Zone 2 training on longer runs.
  • Brick sessions after all bike rides, even if it’s just a light ten minute walk/jog
  • No runs over 70% of race distance. This is due to injury and recovery issue. As heavier, or older, athletes a long run of 20 miles can create a recovery need of 3-4 days afterwards, which is 3-4 days of no training. By keeping training to a manageable distance the athlete is able to train to the plan and reduces injury occurrence.


  • This is the place I really deviate from what the course teaches. I do not believe in the high carb needs taught in the course. I believe we can train our bodies to be fat burners even during a race, by training in the same manner.
  • Fat adaption during training should result in the ability to race with minimal need for carb intake
  • Real food only
  • Nothing … NOTHING processed … this includes gels, gu’s, etc.
  • As Dawn Blatner teaches, no C.R.A.P. This stands for no Chemicals in the ingredients, no Refined sugars or flour, nothing Artificial – including sweeteners, and no Preservatives. In other words … REAL FOOD

This is just a start, and I know some reading this are not going to agree. There are still proponents of calorie counting, calorie in-calorie out theory, 65-70% carb eating, etc. If that works for you, fine … have at it … but I know as a heavy athlete it doesn’t work this way, and most of the others I know in my same situation react the same.

This is a “to be continued” post ….

6 thoughts on “Coaching Philosophy

  • February 25, 2016 at 6:28 pm

    Which coaching cert. Program did you select?

    • February 25, 2016 at 6:29 pm

      Ironman University

  • February 16, 2016 at 5:39 pm

    Um, hate to be the downer here, but if you tried to eat food with no chemical compounds in it, you do realize you would starve to death inside of three weeks right? 3 days without water, 3 weeks without food… Have you ever seen the chemical makeup of a banana? !

    Google “James Kennedy chemical composition of a [insert fruit here]”

    Everything the growing body needs except high fructose corn syrup…
    Bgddyjim recently posted…The Politics of Cookies and ChemophobiaMy Profile

    • February 16, 2016 at 5:45 pm

      By chemicals I of course mean added. Everything is made of chemicals but those added by man is a no-no.

  • February 16, 2016 at 5:04 pm

    I like where you are going with your philosophy and of course you are not going to agree with everything you read. You are a different person and athlete, but what I wouldn’t do is discount the knowledge. A good coach sometimes will have to put aside their own philosophy to do what is best for the athlete. If the athlete is not getting results based on the coach’s methodology then the coach has two choices; find what does work for that athlete or find them a different coach. I personally love when this happens because I then am forced to research and learn new training techniques. Basically, coaching is not about the coach. It is about the athlete and their goals, and their philosophies. We are just there to make sure they have the opportunity to succeed as we abide by the first rule of coaching. “Do No Harm”. That might actually mean, changing things up to train against what we believe in.

    • February 16, 2016 at 5:44 pm

      Agree 100%

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