Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Q&A with The Sheriff - Coaching GIVEAWAY

So you think you need a triathlon coach???

This represents the bulk of my training, pre-coach

y now, I think most everyone is at least passingly familiar with my triathlon coach, Anthony Bagnetto. Head coach at Anthony Bagnetto Fitness, long time friend, and very patiently tolerant of his nickname, The Sheriff. (Full story behind the nickname here, but basically he enforces my training, plus we were in Robin Hood together as children. Him as the Sheriff of Nottingham, me as his wife. It's funny. Go with it).

While I have only been a triathlete for a handful of months, Anthony has years of experience both as an athlete and USAT coach. Some highlights: Anthony was a competitive swimmer in high school, then moved to New York City after college in 2002 and became a strength coach & trainer. He was bit by the triathlon bug in 2006, and since has raced all distances - some of the highlights being 70.3 Montauk, Escape from Alcatraz, Ironman Wisconsin, and most recently USAT Age Group Nationals for the Olympic distance this year. This year he's already run the NYC Central Park Marathon and is taking on IM Lake Placid in July. He is a Level I USAT Coach, trains athletes of all levels, and was voted "One of NYC's 15 Nicest Instructors" on RateYourBurn.

What my coach secretly thinks about me.
Just kidding.  I'm way too awesome and he's too nice.

After my big foot injury last fall, I gave in and admitted I was in way over my head. I needed help, both get back on the triathlon wagon (time trial?), but also to do so without further injury. Anthony agreed to coach me. I've since sent him endless emails (three so far today), angry texts from messed up races, questions, some cake pops and some girl scout cookies.

 FTC disclaimer: Anthony coaches me for free. Or the joy of watching a crazy person fumble around. I'm still not quite sure. However all my opinions here are my own and are in no way influenced by this arrangement. Me being me, I would still say what I think.

Before I get into talking about my personal experience having a (totally knowledgeable, compassionate and awesome) USAT coach, let's do some Q&A with Anthony:

What do you love about coaching? Training and coaching are awesome and something that becomes more rewarding over time. As my clients get better, I get to watch them accomplish goals, fulfill dreams and in turn I become a better coach because of it.

What is the hardest part about coaching? The hardest part of the job is easily the shifting schedules and obligations of my clients and attempting to juggling those with their training and racing goals. Combining the two, in real time day to day and making the correct adjustments and decisions is very challenging.

Which sport is the hardest? For you, for your athletes? Generally, swimming is the biggest hurdle for the majority of my clients. Not just learning proper form and getting a feel for the water, but adjusting to the chaos of the swim start and learning not to panic around others. Luckily I came from a swimming background so that was not an issue for me. But I was just a naturally poor runner. I didn't enjoy it, I didn't want to do it. So of course, its what I ended up concentrating the most on and its where I have seen the most improvement.

What is the advantage of a coach over an out-of-the-box training plan? This is a great question and there are a handful of factors to address when considering one or the other. The largest and most obvious advantage is the ability to have someone who has more experience, depth of knowledge and vested interest in making you a better athlete, looking over every aspect of your training. Your coach is a dynamic resource you can use anytime you like for nearly any training related reason. Depending on your personality and experience in the sport, you can use their expertise in whatever way works best for you. This is often why coaches have different tiers of training. For those more experienced, time constrained athletes, a coach can simply be there to plug in workouts, make adjustments and do the heavy lifting so the athlete can concentrate on other things in their life. For a more inexperienced athlete, the coach can do all of the above and take on many more roles like confidant, guru, soundboard and above all, teacher. [CT here - I'm gonna add "marriage counselor and therapist" in here as well. See below]

An out of the box plan can, of course, be useful. But its very limited in the direction it gives you. It will attempt to adjust for different athlete abilities and an experienced racer can make those adjustments if they have the time, energy and inclination. Its not as easy for a beginner or time crunched client.

Is there a level/distance at which an athlete really needs a coach? Oly? HIM? IM? This is also a great question. And the quick answer is no. There are distances that require more knowledge, expertise and have less room for error (generally the longer ones) but a dedicated athlete with lots of time who is willing to endure lots of trial, error, and varying degrees of failure can self-train any distance. But, if you have bigger goals, less time, or simply want to make the transition into the sport smoother, than a coach at any distance will be recommended.

What are some of the most common mistakes you see relatively new athletes making? The most common class of mistakes I see new athletes making are usually intensity and volume based. Since this is a new and exciting endeavor, athletes are usually very excited to make huge gains as fast as possible at any cost. Their hard workouts are too hard, their easy workouts are too hard and their volume in the beginning is too much. This can last without consequence sometimes for weeks, but eventually one of two things happen: burnout or injury. Burnout can mean mental fatigue or physical breakdown with workouts becoming executed more and more poorly. And injury can happen anywhere in the kinetic chain where unknown weakness lie. [Me again. He's talking about me. And probably some other beginners, but... me.]

For me, having a coach has made a world of difference in my training, as well as my day to day life.  First - I tend to be a worrier.  Do I run or rest when I'm sick?  How far should I go?  Which drills are best?  Hills or speedwork?  All these are no longer my problem.  I punch in what days I'm available in Training Peaks, and Sheriff does all the thinking for me.  I just have to execute.  It truly takes a lot of stress off.  Especially when I hit bumps in the road, like flare ups of my foot injury, my sore shoulder, or other stuff like having to work late and missing workouts.  Furthermore, I have confidence that I'm not going to overdo it.  I hurt myself last year doing too much.  I still can't put my finger on what exactly the activity was, or where the breaking point was, but I'm 100% sure it won't happen again.  Not when Sheriff is monitoring every tweaked muscle, ache, and physical weirdness I experience.

At the finish of IM Wisconsin
Which brings me to the next benefit - psychological support.  Let's face it - there's only so much triathlon information your husband, friends, and family can absorb gracefully.  While I try not to smother him in emails, having a dedicated person that actually cares as much about my shoulder pain, the exact pace I ran this morning's run, and my balance in the pool is really helpful.  (This is the marriage counselor part.  Jedi has a lot less whining, hemming and hawing to listen to.  He's the Sheriff's biggest fan).  You don't get this kind of benefit from a training plan.

Furthermore, athletically I am actually doing really well.  My overall run pace has dropped at least a minute since last year.  I'm more comfortable and fast in the water.  True, I attribute a lot of the latter to my Total Immersion class, but I give the Sheriff credit for making sure my lazy self gets suited up and into the pool twice a week.  I'm 100% sure I would not be taking on my first half marathon in a week with as much confidence as I am without Anthony's coaching.  Every workout I do now is targeted.  Purposeful.  Not just putting in the time or miles.  The expense of a triathlon coach, in my mind, is completely worth it because of the increased efficiency and support you get out of your training experience.

So do you want some of this??

Anthony has kindly agreed to donate an hour's consultation to one of my readers.  A $50 value - the purpose of this session would be to gather your information, training history, goals, and give overall advice and planning for your upcoming season.  Session can be via phone, Skype, or whatever media you're comfortable with.  This is a great opportunity to check in with a seasoned coach and make sure you're on the right path the season.  You can also send him follow-up questions for anything not addressed.  Enter below and good luck!!  Also be sure to head over to Sheriff's website to peruse his options for ongoing coaching.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Official Rules:
  • You must be 18 years of age or older and is limited to U.S. residents only
  • The sweepstakes will run from 3/5/14 at 12:00am EST through 3/12/14 at 12:00am EST
  • In order to enter to win you must use the Rafflecopter to earn entries.
  • The winner will receive a one-hour consultation valued at $50.
  • The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning.
  • The winner will be selected at random on 3/13/14 and will be notified via email. Winner will have 48 hours to respond to email  If the prize winner forfeits or does not claim the prize, prize will be re-awarded, in Sponsor’s sole discretion.
  • All entrants are bound by the official rules of this giveaway.
  • All entries are verified by myself.


Courtney Fields said...

AWESOME!!! I started training for my first HIM this week and I'm writing my own training plan. I have a few that I'm working from, one where the volume and intensity surely would have killed me and another that I looked at and "I do all this same level of work in my off season..?" I'm trying to find a middle ground and an expert to help look over my plan and direct me on what will and won't work in it would be AMAZING!!

Miranda Greenhalgh said...

Courtney you and Anthony would get along great. Plus, both upstate NYers, so we know your stomping ground! Which IM did you register for?

Kathleen Pietrovito said...

Awesome giveaway!

Jessica McAlear said...

This would be great. I definitely need help with my swimming technique. Doggy paddle anyone?

Kristine said...

Great giveaway! New to your blog and am following asap!

Kristine said...

Oops hit enter too quick. Doing my first tri on June 7. Cannot wait!

Molly Eastman said...

Inspiring. All around fitness support is appreciated.

Amanda said...

This is great! I'm doing my second half IM this year and I need all the help I can get. I think I need a lot of help with running. Great giveaway! Thanks!

Kimmay said...

I'm actually in the market for a coach now, would be interested in hearing his opinions! I really need help on my running. Great giveaway, thanks!

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