Well, I am on a roll this week! After a few months of intensive studying I was delighted on Friday to receive confirmation that I had passed the second part of my Ironman Coaching Certification and am now a certified coach!
In my true style I had kept the fact that I was studying for this on the low down.
So how did this all come about?
Well all credit to my cycling friend Giovanna for approaching me a few months ago to ask if I would consider coaching her in her endurance cycling pursuits (plus some running and swimming). Despite my passion for developing people as part of my nnoodl business, my initial reaction was a mix of excitement coupled with self doubt.
I recognised that I have extensive experience in endurance sports from my own years of running marathons, taking part in long distance triathlons, open water swimming competitions, and of course my Andes challenge, but the fact that I wasn't 'qualified' didn't sit easily with me. However, seeing myself as an 'aspirational coach' and with a very good understanding of the science of coaching from my own experience, we set off on our coach/athlete journey. The next person I have to give credit to is Tom Frearson, my own triathlon coach, who suggested I might like to take undertake the Ironman coaching programme to solidify my credibility. Huge thanks to Tom for being so encouraging in this area, it really made me think I could do this.
The programme is seen as the gold standard in endurance sports education. Designed and developed by best triathlon coaches in the world, it is made up of some really intensive content covering the science of coaching, the kinematics of the swim, bike and run, sports nutrition, strength and conditioning, creation of training plans and more. I felt like I was back at school! There are scenarios and questions as you go along. but the first part of the certification process was a 50 question exam which you have to get over 75% in to progress to the second part. It felt hard, but I managed to get 94% and was delighted to be able to progress. This was where the hard work really began though.
I had to review a 27 page athlete questionnaire and do an assignment which essentially planned all of the factors for her to complete a full Ironman event. This was 14 pages of setting the overall volume and intensity of training for a 25 week plan, including the finer details of sessions, nutrition, hydration and strength and training plans. Scenarios were thrown in for good measure to assess how you could adapt and communicate around your athletes changing demands. I felt like 'Jane from Texas' was a real person and found myself waking up thinking about how to change her training microcycles to accommodate her 'B' race and ensure she didn't aggravate an old running injury. It felt all consuming for a while and I procrastinated and went back and forth changing things.
For this element you have to achieve at least 80% to pass, and it is common for the assessment to be sent back to the student to make corrections. Well, can you imagine my delight to receive my 'Congratulations' email from Ironman University to say I had achieved 93% !!
I think my school days biology teacher Mr Coates would be equally surprised given that my friend Shirley and I were notorious for 'having a right carry on' in his class, leading to me not doing so well in my biology O Grade. Ah but these are changed days!
I am particularly keen to develop my knowledge around working with females and understanding how our hormonal changes affect our muscles and ligaments and all manner of other things which can affect performance. There is in fact another course on this area in progress, but that is for another blog!
All of that and I haven't even given an update on my 'Latin American Pentathlon' progress. Well, understandably after last weekend, I was on an easy week, with instruction to just 'do things I enjoyed'. It turns out that pretty much is swimming and cycling, as I still managed to rack up 125km on the bike and 4k swimming.
This would have me at the small city of Camiri in Bolivia where the 65,897 inhabitants are known as "Camireños." Camiri is situated on the banks of the Parapeti River in a small valley surrounded by rolling hills on the east, north, and south, and by the Aguarague mountain range on the west.
But for me this week, it was mostly about kicking back in the Serpentine and enjoying some downtime!
Denise Yeats is an events director, communications consultant, endurance athlete and avid adventurer.