It’s never nice when a client has to stop working with you for whatever reason it may be. Recently I found out that one of my long term clients, Russell P had to move to another city. I thought as a result I’d take the opportunity to write a quick tribute to him, because the way that he approached his training made my job really easy, but can also serve as an example to anyone out there who wants results on how to get them with some help from a trainer if you feel you need it.
Listen to and Trust your Trainer
When Russell and I met, he had been training for a marathon and managed to get Achilles Tendonitis. At the time I was working for a chain gym and he asked for someone with a running background and who knew about injuries. As luck would have it, I do well with both. At our first meeting Russell outlined his training program and one of the first things that I did was cut his mileage in half immediately. Now, Russell had eight weeks before running his first marathon so he thought I was crazy.
But, he listened. We strengthen and mobilized his ankle and got him back into a regular running rhythm and eight weeks later he completed his first marathon. It wasn’t fast, but it was done. Russell was simply trying to do too much too soon and his body was fighting back – quite common with runners.
Two years later running the same race (where he beat his old marathon best by over 30 minutes) we had a goal established that he probably could have tried to push more, but he chose to listen and just hit the numbers we had talked about, which is what brought him success.
Russell could have easily done something else or told me that he was doing what I asked and done something else, but that’s not like him. He has always trusted in the process. We do get input from each other, but the whole point of having a coach is to have them tell you what to do to succeed.
Just Show Up
I can probably count on one hand the amount of times Russell and I missed a session with a last minute cancellation. Even if he was hung over, tired or just generally stressed he still always showed up. Sometimes we wouldn’t get the best out of him that day, but what we did was always better than doing nothing. Once he committed to a race, it was there and 100% done. Before he decided to leave we had his goals planned out into 2016.
He was also excellent at following his programs without overdoing it or doing anything silly. If we had an off day planned, he took it – or if he had to make up for a run he missed he put it there. He never did too much again after that first injury.
Over time we even learned that we had to factor in two weeks after any major race in order to let his body rest and gave him time to recover and do nothing for a while. This should never be a problem for any coach because all you’re doing is giving the body what it needs after a big performance, which is recovery.
My point is that 98% of any success is just showing up. Many time it would have been easy for Russell to text me and say he couldn’t make it, but his training and progress were a priority that he made time for and as a coach this is something that makes it a lot easier to get results.
Any good coach will be able to plan out a schedule for a client, but Russell was especially good at thinking ahead and long term. Not only would he plan for what he was going to do workout wise when he was away, he made it a priority or scheduled workouts with friends while he was travelling. His family lives in England and even when he was over there for a week he still got his workouts is because he planned what days he was going to do them ahead of time.
We also planned his race schedule year to hear with one big goal (last year it was riding a bicycle from London to Paris, this year it was a ½ Ironman triathlon) and didn’t change it. He already has his priorities scheduled into 2015 and is committed to the process. There are little goals along the way, but the main focus can’t be month to month – it was to be one event and I always prefer if it is an annual goal, not a bunch of them (maybe twice a year at most).
Doing this ensures that your focus is always on the main event you have prioritized. It doesn’t mean that you can’t do a 10k race on your way to a marathon goal of course. And that brings me to my final point:
Roll With The Punches and Be Realistic
Sometimes life gets in the way. Russell and I at the beginning of the season had a ½ Ironman triathlon scheduled for the end of his race season (his first). However, the way that the summer fleshed out and with many work and life changes we both mutually agreed that it wasn’t a good idea to push for the distance when the training he was able to do would have resulted in a less than 100% result. He still completed his first Olympic distance triathlon with flying colours and hit all of his goals along the way.
Sometimes you need to assess if your life can really manage to get you the training that you need. I run into this quite often with fitness competitors who have jobs, families and lots of stress and have a hard time sticking to things. Health and well-being in my opinion should always be the top priority, and things like races and shows aren’t going anywhere any time soon. If you have to put a goal off temporarily due to something getting in the way – do it.
Want to do a ½ marathon but couldn’t get in your long runs? Try setting a PB at the 10k distance instead. You can still get a fantastic result and maintain your training and health, while also lowering your stress at the same time and taking pressure off so that the training that you can manage to get in isn’t wasted.
I hope that this brings some perspective into your own training. I’ll miss working with Russell on a regular basis a ton (we’re going to work together coaching virtually in the new year), not only because we have had a great relationship face to face but also because of all of the reasons labelled above that makes doing my job well so much easier. If you have a trainer take a look at the list and maybe there might be one thing that you could honestly say you can step up and improve a bit. I’m sure your coach will thank you for it and be able to get your results to you that much faster.
Also, if you’re reading this and are interested in coaching, my virtual services are available for the month of December at a 20% discount – five months for the price of four. Contact me for more details. Have a fit and healthy holiday season!