“Data Driven” or “Heart Driven” Athlete?

This past week, I was in Boulder, CO at the Endurance Coaching Summit (ECS), that was put on by Training Peaks and USA Triathlon. I needed to get my CEC’s (Continuing Education Credits) for my USA Triathlon Level I and this knocks out 12 out of the 15 credits, I need to get every two years AND I was heading to Boulder, CO. Win. Win!

The conference was at the University of Colorado – Boulder. What an amazing venue, tons of coaches, along with Pro Athletes, Influencers and people wanting to learn about triathlon and how to improve as coaches, business owners and athletes.

The Man. Dave Scott. 6 x Ironman Triathlon World Champion. He was the first speaker and his talk really hit home.  He talked about technology now to technology back in the days that he won his Ironman Triathlons, especially his first Ironman Triathlon in 1980. Dave said this…

“The technology that I had in 1980 Ironman Triathlon was “Can I do this?”

Then, he pulled out his bike that he used for the 1980 Ironman Triathlon. No aerobars. No Power Meter. No Garmin, Polar or Tom Tom.

After Dave spoke, I took this thought with me throughout the whole conference and started thinking about my athletes, my coaching and my business as well.

During the conference, I learned about:

  • How to Grow a Racing Team
  • Strength Training & the Triathlete from a Strength & Conditioning Coach from UCB
  • Nutrition from the Gatorade Sports Institute
  • How to Grow my Coaching Business
  • Getting into the mind of athletes through Sports Psychology
  • How to Grow my Coaching Brand even more so!

As you can see, it was an AMAZING conference. As you know about conferences like this, you take in what you want to take in and how it applies to you and your business.

The final “Good Bye” was from the owner and co-founder of Training Peaks, Gear Fisher and Dirk Friel.

Gear’s talk was short and sweet but hit home and tied into Dave Scott’s talk very well. Gear said:

“The #1 need that a triathlete wants from their coach is feedback.”

As an athlete myself, I couldn’t agree with them more. I value the feedback that I receive from my coach.

Then a lightbulb came on during my VERY long travel home to San Antonio (Denver flight canceled. Slept in airport. Ticket to Austin. Tried stand by on Southwest Airlines. Opted to buy a new flight to guarantee, I was getting home.) Here was my “Ah Ha” moment:

Athletes need feedback from their coaches

Coaches need feedback from their athletes

Plain and Simple

Going back to Dave Scott’s chat…there is SO MUCH technology that we, at athletes, forget about what is going on in our mind and in our heart.

Data Driven Scenario:

Scenario #1 as an Athlete:

  • Athlete does workout.
  • Garmin, Tom Tom, etc, is uploaded to Strava, Garmin Connect and Training Peaks.
  • Athlete uploaded their workouts.
  • Done

Scenario #1 as a Coach:

  • Coach gets an email notification from Training Peaks.
  • Coach reviews the workout. Makes some notes and observations BASED on data, power, pace, heart rate.
  • Coach responds back to athlete and gives feedback BASED from what was uploaded to Training Peaks.
  • Coach gets an email or text from the athlete responding back to the feedback email that “They had a TERRRIBLE workout and that is was hard, humid, hot, etc. Their training is going to shit and will they be ready for their race?”
  • Coach reads email or texts. Shakes his/her head and calls their athlete to get them off the edge.

Heart Driven Scenario:

Scenario #2 as an Athlete:

  • Athlete does workout.
  • Garmin, Tom Tom, etc, is uploaded to Strava, Garmin Connect and Training Peaks.
  • Athlete uploaded their workouts but also made a comment of how they were feeling during the workout. That maybe they didn’t have enough nutrition or they felt that they bonked at mile 80 on the bike. Maybe they had an AMAIZNG workout and explain the reason why. For example: Their nutrition was spot on. (You get my point).

Scenario #2 as a Coach:

  • Coach gets an email notification from Training Peaks.
  • Coach reviews the workout. Makes some notes and observations based on data, feeling, observations from the athlete because the athlete put more information in Training Peaks than just an automatic upload.
  • Coach responds back to athlete and gives feedback to the athlete whether it is an email, a text or a good old fashion phone call.
  • Coach is happy that the athlete is seeing progress or is noticing that the athlete isn’t fully engaged or that they can afford to be pushed a bit more or that they are getting sick.

As a coach, I will admit, scenario #2 has GOT to be the easiest for all of us. Why? It is based on communication and OVER communication. As an online triathlon coaching business, I would MUCH rather find out what is going on with my athlete right then and there. NOT when the athlete has a melt down before a workout or a down day, etc.

As an athlete, I will admit, scenario #1 is WAY much easier to upload the data and be done. I get it 100% but I also need to let me coach know what is going on with me not only body but my HEART and SOUL!

Let me ask you that question again:

 

Are you a Data Driven or a Heart Driven?

You decided. It is a delicate balance and you should figure out what works BEST for you.

Let me ask you another question: 

What is going to make YOU a better athlete?

Dave Scott and Mark Allen did darn well without data. They won from the heart…