Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A Bit of Last Minute Coaching

I met a guy called Simon Gowen pretty late into my training. My first contact with him was purely as a radio listener. His show, "The Simon Gowen Show", is a weekly occurrence on LA Talk Radio. It was brought to my attention on one of the LA Tri forum posts. At first, I thought it was a one off featuring the topic of triathlon but I later found that this was the central topic for the show. What a great way to talk about the sport. It's something that I can listen to at work without taking me away from the tasks I need to achieve. As the weeks went on, I found that I was picking up many tips and the focus drew more and more to the Malibu Triathlon. Special guests like Ian Murray (who did my bike fit), Chris Foster (A local Pro), and Brooke Davison (A female pro who was flying in for the Malibu Triathlon), all gave pointers that would ultimately improve my race.

One day, an email came through saying that Simon was to do a talk at Triathlon Lab at their new store in Santa Monica. Unfortunately, I would not be able to make it over that way but I sent some members of the Sony Pictures Triathlon Team over there to check it out. The feedback was great and to top it off, one of our members, Felicity, managed to have a chat with Simon and asked if he would come and talk to us as a team. After some minor arm twisting, Simon agreed to do a lunchtime talk about the mental preparation for the race.

He was a big success and I feel like I gained a lot from what he had to say. The big breakthrough however was the fact that Simon would be training up at Zuma beach in Malibu at the same time as us and asked us to join him. I was intending to do some in and out practices before my main swim but Simon took this a step further and made a full In and Out clinic for us. This may sound basic but getting in and out of the ocean is a fine art. Doing this at race pace is even harder. That weekend, Simon taught us to race.

As a major bonus, Simon also agreed to allow me to tag along with him for the ride on the bike course. He said we were going to do it at 80%. This, I am assuming was his 80% as I quickly ended up pushing it very hard. This wasn't helped by the fact that he put me out in the lead and shouted encouragement and instructions of how and where to attack the course. It also helped to learn good places on the course to drink. This is something I have not done well before so this was encouraging.

The bike was feeling great after my proper fit from Ian Murray. My worries about it not being racy were removed straight away when we managed to finish the ride in 46 minutes. This was 3 minutes better than my previous best and we needed to stop for a stop light and the closed barrier at the turn around point. All very encouraging.

We didn't do the run after the ride as normal and instead, Simon got me to jump straight back into the ocean. This was our ice bath. Getting the muscles into that cold water was lovely and I could feel my whole body relaxing and cooling down. I need to remember that one. I haven't felt so loose in years.

I felt like Simon had helped me out so much that day and I believe I was so much more prepared to race.

To add to this, I had had steady communication with Ian Murray. He has been giving me lots of tips on little things I can do to improve my racing. He is also a great swimmer so as well as the bike fit, I intend to get Ian to look at my swim stroke. Anything to get me faster in the water would be a real bonus and I hear that Ian is one of the best in the business, especially with triathlon specific swimming. Unfortunately, I don't think I will be able to get my stroke looked at before Malibu but it is on the cards for a future time.

I'm also considering getting Simon to coach me on a casual basis. I have a tight weekly schedule so my time is limited but hopefully he may be able to help me with my running speed.

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