Considering Coaching? Nationals Winners Weigh in on Their Coaches—Or Lack Thereof
Now that the season is over and you’ve most likely taken some time to think about your results from the fall and winter, and evaluated if you met your goals or not, you might be thinking about hiring a coach. We recently asked our National Champions a bevy of questions about their training, and one of them was “Do you work with a coach, and if so, why?” Below are some of their answers, and Cycle-Smart coach Jacob Fetty weighs in on the good and the bad. To find out more about how the National Champions trained, make sure you’re subscribed to Cyclocross Magazine, since Issue 20 will have much, much more, from favorite workouts to nutrition from the winners.
Sue Butler, 40-44 Women
I work with Kendra Wenzel. When I decided to try to be a bike racer and took a leave of absence from my job, I decided if I was going to do this, I was going to do it right. 100% in. Plus, I was no spring chicken when I started. I was 34. I hired her in the November of 2005 … I turned ‘pro,’ didn’t go back to work and really started getting serious. Considering I did my first bike race in 2003, I would say she actually made me a bike racer. I have been able to compete at the Pro/Elite level in three disciplines and have had some great results and some very memorable wins. I am very proud of what I have accomplished in a rather short period of time. It’s been quite a ride and I know I could not have done it without her. She knows her stuff.
When working with a coach you have to go all in like Sue has done. You have to trust that your coach is all in as well. When both parties are committed to the process and the professional amazing results can be achieved. –Jacob Fetty
Shannon Gibson, 45-49 Women
Not any more. I’ve been a coach, I’ve been coached. One of the best things about having a coach is objectivity because sometimes training too much feels like training too little, and vice versa. Especially in the middle of the season when you don’t know if you are tired or untrained from resting lots between races.
Not only do coaches help with objectivity but they also help with tempering the hyper-intrinsically motivated athlete, which can be no small task! –Jacob Fetty
Kathy Sarvary, 55-59 Women
I’m coached by Tom Stevens. About 15 years ago, I realized I had hit a wall performance-wise, and wasn’t getting any better. I was doing a weekly ’cross training workout with Tom Stevens and Kathi Riggert and told them what was going on, and they quickly told me my performance was flat-lining because my training was the same every day. I was just going out and hammering. I needed some structure in my training. They also pointed out I wasn’t taking enough rest, so it was impossible to improve. That’s all I needed to hear, I hired them on the spot … Seven National Championship jerseys and three Worlds jerseys: not a bad track record!
What a great success story! That is the power of a coach. Honest, objective and steeped with knowledge. Not everyone is destined to be a World Champion. What we all have in common, though, is the motivation and determination to do the best that is within us. A good coach will get that out of you. At the same time, a good coach will know it is not about the result, rather, it is about the process and be attentive to your growth and development during that process. –Jacob Fetty
Leone Pizzini, Masters 65-69
I never worked with a coach, just read and took some tips from cycling magazines and books and from my peers, incorporating what I felt would help me with my training and performance.
Russ Stevenson, Masters 35-39
I sort of coach myself. I am a USAC Elite coach (working with Peaks Coaching Group), so with the experience I have in the sport (14 years), I really don’t feel the need for a personal coach. Plus, if it ain’t broke, don’t…
Self-coaching can be tricky at times, especially when you are a motivated athlete. I would imagine that Russ is able to pull from his experience to create his workouts as well as to reach out to his peer group when he needs feedback. It is important, if you are self coaching, to still have a support system where you can solicit objective feedback. –Jacob Fetty
Emma White, 15-16 Women
No, I do not have a coach at this point. I have always talked with my older brother, Curtis [one of the juniors on the Worlds team], about what would be best to do before a workout. He has a lot of experience and if very helpful! My dad also helps with the overall planning and organization of things.
Coaching is not just about the workouts. It is so much more–mentoring, cheerleading, emotional support, occasional life coaching—just to name a few. It appears that Emma has solid mentor support system. –Jacob Fetty
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