Earlier this year one of my friends was trying to convince me to compete in a triathlon. I began to think to myself that I need to try something different and to challenge myself. My friend has done several triathlons and is currently training to compete in an Ironman triathlon. With his encouragement, I decided to go ahead and give it a try. Once I told him I was going to do it, he told me that I needed to sign up or I wouldn’t follow through. I put off signing up for about two weeks because of my busy schedule and I was traveling for work. Upon my return, my friend again asked me if I had signed up yet. My response was “No, not yet.” He commented that if I didn’t sign up soon, it wouldn’t happen. So the next day, I finally made the commitment and I signed up for the event.
I was already in good enough physical condition to go out and complete in the bike and run portion without much training. However, the swim portion had me a little nervous. About three weeks before the triathlon, I met with my friend so he could coach me on swimming techniques and advise me on his best practices from his past experience. His guidance helped tremendously. Not only did he give me some pointers, but he also swam with me to show me how it was done. He also took time to practice an open-water swim with me before the competition so I could experience it prior to the event. If you have never done an open-water, long-distance swim, it can be intimidating and overwhelming. This wasn’t about physical conditioning for the race, it was about mental conditioning.
On August 23rd, I competed in my very first triathlon. It was a “Sprint” level of competition which required that I swim ½ mile, bike 12 miles, and run 3 miles. The help I received from my friend and coach was huge for me. When the race results came in, I didn’t finish first in my age group, but I did finish in 9th place with a time of 1 hour and 33 minutes. A pretty good result for a first time participant and considering there were 33 people in my age group that competed.
As I look back on the experience, I was able to carry out the personal conditioning and accomplish my goal. The most valuable part of the preparation was my friend and coach. He provided me with much mental help in preparation, he offered a road bike to use during the race, all while he trained for the “Olympic” level of the same event. He was highly supportive; he helped push me to enter the race and motivated me to do something new in my life. He made this event easy! This is one role a coach can serve. A coach can provide experience, motivation, verbal and tangible support. Most importantly, a coach helps people figure out how to do things, and empowers individuals. A good coach will let go of control and let individuals learn, execute, and do things on their own. Hopefully we all have a coach like this in our lives and at our workplaces. With a little effort and energy, a coach can take a good team member and push them into a higher performing team member. Then it can become contagious. After my triathlon, my wife, with two of my sons, competed in a mini-triathlon only 1 week later. Coaching can really inspire people to do new things and to set goals that will raise personal worth and development and enhance the results of any organization.