Can I Get To Kona?

My cousin has this saying for me whenever we chat via Facebook.  It goes something like this:  I’ll see you in Kona one day.  Is she right?  I have no idea.  I haven’t even begun training for an Ironman as of yet.  I have put in my time to be good at the half-ironman and have 2 more scheduled between now and when I do plan on racing an Ironman.  I am going to race 70.3 Longhorn in October and 70.3 Puerto Rico in March.  This is all a lead up to Ironman Arizona.

Member of Powerbar Team Elite

I am sure there will be another 70.3 in there and most likely it will be Longhorn again as a training day for the full.  Now does this mean I will be fast enough to nab a Kona slot.  No clue, but what I do know is that I can’t get to Kona or even try to get to Kona without the proper motivation, inspiration, education and most of all coaching.

My success at 70.3 California was not just me training six days a week, or eating properly.  It all stemmed from a conversation I had with my wife and led me to hiring Coach C.  The conversation went something like this:

  • Me: I am a horrible swimmer.  I can’t get faster.  I feel like I am struggling out there.  I need to get better at swimming.
  • Karen:  Hire a coach.  Look here is a pamphlet for one. iRuniTri Multisport.  Just give them a call.
  • Me:  I don’t need a coach.  I can do this on my own.
  • Karen:  Whatever you say.

About a month if not more passed of me complaining about my swim and how horrible I was when I finally reached down for that pamphlet and called.

A meeting was established with this coach whose resume was a mile long and included such things as:

  • 2009 Longhorn Half Ironman 5th Age Group
  • World Championship Qualified
  • 2009 Toyota Open Championship, 1st Age Group
  • 2009 Austin Triathlon, 3rd Age Group, 7th Overall Female
  • 2009 Austin Running Club Series Age Group Winner
  • 2009 Austin Marathon, 1st Age Group, 6th Overall

That dude better hurry up because Coach C will pass him.

When I pulled into the parking lot there was a car pulling in at the same time and it had all the proverbial stickers on it.  Out comes this woman and she immediately greets me and figured I was her meeting.  We shook hands and she says to me immediately:  Check out this helmet I just won.  With that out came a viking helmet that weighed quite a bit and we both started laughing.  I knew right then and there I was going to hire me to coach me to my first 70.3 race.

We sat down and went over everything and there was a great vibe.  It was an effortless chat amongst friends to be honest and with every moment that passed I felt more and more comfortable.  One item she focused on quite a bit was that this was going to be online coaching and if I could handle that.  I knew I would have no issues but I appreciated the notion that online training wasn’t for everybody and that I would be most comfortable with being coached that way.

For a year I got text messages and emails and phone calls and I never once felt like she did not care about me and my progress.  As a matter of fact coach and I love texting so much we can have marathon text conversations about everything and anything.  Through this year she lost the title of coach and became a friend.

As a matter of fact I wrote this about my relationship with her:

“A coach is the one thing I will never give up in terms of triathlon.  You can take my sneakers and I’ll run barefoot, take my Specialized and I will ride my Trek road bike but do not take my Coach.  She is a counselor, motivator, inspiration and all around wellness guru for me.  I can say this with confidence.”

She is a rockstar on the bike as well.

This is all to say that if you are going to hire a coach that you do so with the knowledge of who this person is, what they’ve accomplished and how they coach. In my mind, you can only get this through an interview.  I am keeping Coach C for as long as she will have me.  I learn valuable lessons from her constantly and am not willing to give that up.

As I was typing this post I decided to check to see if there were any tips out on the internet that other people used and low and behold had an article on Finding The Right Coach.  The article can be found [HERE] and was written by Dave Scott for Triathlete Magazine.

This is just a small piece of the article, but I encourage you to read the entire article as it is enlightening as to the thought and mindset behind hiring a coach.


Assessing the Athlete/Coach Fit

A coach can be well trained and highly successful but often, due to no one’s fault, a coach/athlete relationship may not flourish. I’ve seen brilliant coaches that fully grasp the scientific applications of training but don’t have the empathy or awareness to connect with particular athletes.

To summarize, here are 10 key traits to look for in a coach:

  1. A combination of education and experience.
  2. An understanding of the fundamentals of workload.
  3. An ability to cross-reference key training indicators such as speed, heart rate, watts and perceived exertion.
  4. The ability to design a program for the full training year (periodization, micro-cycles, rest, etc.).
  5. An attention to the details of your training and the astuteness to recognize when it’s time to make changes (e.g., to recognize symptoms of over-reaching/training or mental burnout, etc.).
  6. An understanding of the biomechanics of swimming, cycling and running and the ability to prescribe drills and exercises to effect corrective changes.
  7. The knowledge of the principles of endurance nutrition and supplementation and the ability to prescribe a fueling plan that is tailored to you.
  8. Any advice and guidance for your individual race-day tactics.
  9. Excellent communication skills.
  10. A motivating personality that fits you.

With the growth of triathlon has come a growth in the number of coaches available to help you achieve your personal best. Shop around carefully, check for USAT-certified coaching credentials and ask for references. You’ll be a better athlete for it.


As far as #10 goes Coach C has all that and then some.  Her motivating personality was on full display this weekend at Ironman Texas.  I was in T2 and watched her come in off the bike.  As I was running back to get more bikes I high-fived her and yelled to keep going.  She smiled like only she can and then let out a Whoop!!!! and chugged along.

Yes she ran the Turkey Trot in the cold pushing her daughter with a broken hand.

She was dehydrated and finished the marathon on 100 calories, but she finished and that is the motivation I need.  Plus she also nabbed herself a Kona slot so now my mantra is no longer:

Those who can’t quit, and those who can do.

It is:

Coach C ran a marathon on 100 calories and qualified for Kona.  Are you telling yourself you can’t run another 800?  Swim another 200?  Pedal for another 30 minutes?


Yes, she motivates me and that is why I am honored to have her as my coach.

Do you have a coach?  What are your coaches traits that you really connect with?  Will you consider hiring a coach?


Print Friendly

Related posts:


  1. Matt Oravec says:

    Nope. I am one of those “un-coachable” people. I don’t listen well to people and cannot be told what to do.

    Stubborn? maybe. Determined? definitely.

    My other problem is that I know a lot of people with coaches around here… in my opinion (up here) the coaches are in it for the money. None of the athletes have produced nearly any results. I know the athletes personal goals and they are no where near achieving them.

    If this was just one or two coaches up here, I would say it isn’t a good way to view it in general up here… since it is more like 5 or 6 that I know, I have formulated my opinion and cannot be persuaded otherwise haha. The other issue is that I would need a coach that is faster than me… this would allow me to believe that they know what they are talking about… but when I am beating all of the “experts” up here in races on no experience and only a few months of training, it makes me believe that they don’t know what they are doing.

    NOW, that being said, I know coaches outside of the Cleveland area and would consider them if I were to ever want to qualify for Kona. I don’t care to qualify for Kona though. I know I can finish any race I start no matter my training, it’s just a matter of how much pain I am setting myself up for ;)

    I hope this did not come off wrong… but that’s just my opinion on it. I have had issues with coaches through high school and college sports too… which is why I know how I would be with one now.

    Your coach sounds flipping awesome though, I would need a “friend” to motivate me, maybe then I would listen to them!!!

  2. MissZippy says:

    I think coaching has a time and a place (and I am one). I think coaching is great for new athletes, those training for a specific big goal (like qualifying for Kona), or those who want to raise their game to a higher level. Like you said, the important thing is finding the right fit. Some relationships work, some don’t. I trained with Troy Jacobson for several years when I first got into triathlon and he was great. He lived and trained nearby and I had the advantage of his looking over my shoulder on many workouts. He got me through my IM and many other important events. Eventually, though, I got to the point where I realized I kind of knew what I was doing and it was time to go it alone. So to sum it up–a time and a place for coaching, in my mind!
    MissZippy recently posted..Tuesday TidbitsMy Profile

    • Matt Oravec says:

      I think you summed it up much better than I did. I probably sounded like an idiot and you sounded eloquent haha. :)

      I do agree with your statement Amanda.

  3. adena says:

    I couldn’t imagine doing anything without my coach. She is amazing and the clinics and teams she runs are top notch as well. Plus she makes me laugh til coffee snorts out my nose. Then there are my real life coaches, who are there for me day to day, not that Nancy wouldn’t be but you guys keep me motivated and laughing.

  4. Shutupandrun says:

    She sounds simply amazing and I can see why it was a good match.

    And, yes, you will be in Kona racing one day. I have no doubt in my mind. Sooner than later.

  5. Self taught… but I believe I am going to be seeking “specialty” help in each discipline so I can make my run at a Kona slot in the 2015 season. How’s that for long term planning?? Four years to Kona. People start dropping like flies when you get to the 60/65 age group… and it only takes around 11:30 to qualify.
    That’s the plan and I’m sticking to it.
    robert shuler recently posted..RACE REPORTMy Profile

  6. Mandy says:

    First of all, yes, I will see you racing in Kona someday. For sure. If I ever go, it will be via a lottery slot I think though.

    This is my first year with a coach. I got one to get me through IM. I wasn’t sure I was doing the right thing when I first made contact, but I have to say that my swimming has improved by leaps and bounds, and my biking and running are better than ever as well. I think it is really thanks to her guidance. She is really giving me confidence and guidance as I head into races that I wouldn’t have otherwise.

    That all said, I don’t see myself being coached after my IM. I like so much of it, but financially, I can’t really keep a coach on year round, even though she ROCKS. Like Miss Zippy said, a time and a place for sure.
    Mandy recently posted..Muttley Monday – First MeetingMy Profile

  7. Molly says:

    I can see you at Kona. Seriously.
    Molly recently posted..Nishiki vs GTMy Profile

  8. Nora says:

    Can you get to KONA?? HELL YES!!!!!!!! I don’t have a coach.. never have and prb could use one but it’s not affordable.(mamarunsbarefoot)
    Nora recently posted..Feed MeMy Profile

  9. Angela says:

    My first attempt at getting a coach was not the best experience and didn’t work out. It was a case of the coach being very well qualified, but we just didn’t communicate in the same ways or with the same amount of detail, so I decided to abandon ship and start over. But, I definitely like the idea of a coach and plan to find another one after my 70.3 race next month. I think a coach could be the thing I need to step it up a notch!

    And, you certainly are not lacking on motivation or dedication – I expect we’ll read about a Kona slot in your future!

  10. MIchael says:

    Kona??? Absolutely without a doubt…you’ll be there someday! You’ve got what it takes….I know it!

    I wish I had a coach. That would be so awesome, maybe then I would actually get better, but that’s not in the budget or on the horizon for anytime in the near future. Maybe someday.
    MIchael recently posted..First Outdoor Ride with Clipless Pedals and Weekly Training RecapMy Profile

  11. Jeff Irvin says:

    Good for you that your coach is providing you with what you need … this is what it is supposed to be about.

    I don’t need motivation or some one to push me. I am pretty driven and have no problem putting in the work. What I really need is someone to write my training plans. I am quite sick of doing that right now. I really do not ever want to make up another 24 week tab spreadsheet.

    So to summarize: I need someone to drop an email with training at the beginning of every week. See that is the problem – when I type that out it is so simplistic that I cannot justify paying some one for this service!
    Jeff Irvin recently posted..Ironman Texas Race ReportMy Profile

  12. Your coach sounds awesome! I think it’s great that you found a coach that helps you reach your goals!
    I’ve thought about getting a coach, but for now, I don’t have the finances for it. Plus, I feel I can reach my goals by going it alone. I agree with Amanda though..there is definitely a time/place for a coach.
    Aimee (I Tri To Be Me) recently posted..Life HappensMy Profile

  13. Yes! You are so dedicated–I have to believe Kona is within reach. Your Coach sounds amazing. What an amazing resource to have!!

    I have never had a coach…I pick Mel @Tall Mom’s brain a lot, but I don’t have a “coach”. Would be fun to have that level of accountability!!

    YOU so HAVE Kona J!
    Jess @ Blonde Ponytail recently posted..My Weekend in PicturesMy Profile

  14. I love my coach because he sincerely cares about me. He knows how to motivate me and push me in a positive way. He is encouraging and supportive.

    There’s something to be said for being able to pick up the phone and ask an expert a really important question pretty much any time/ any day.
    The Green Girl recently posted..The First Los Angeles Angelman Syndrome Foundation National Walk Was A SuccessMy Profile

  15. Jill says:

    Kona, here you come!!! I know it’s in you, you’ll get there!

    I think a coach is a valuable resource and someone there to run ideas off; I’m one myself and I had a trainer/coach for years. But the economy sucks enough that I had to give it up and it took a VERY long time for me to feel good on my own. But one day I hope to go back to one.
    Jill recently posted..Never rely on the girl with the mapMy Profile

  16. Chuck says:

    Nice post Jason. I am definitely thinking about it- but more as someone I can be accountable to. I don’t have Ironman aspirations yet, I’m too young and have too many minute things I need to work on. If I were you I would really think about doing an IM after only 1 year at 70.3. Had to say, but besides that, I SUPPORT YOU 100%!

    I am going to keep looking for a good coach- does yours know any in Florida by any chance??

  17. lindsay says:

    1) yes you can get to kona :)
    2) i have thought about getting a coach… but i’m cheap. and i kind of want to “make it” w/ my running on my own. yes, i realize i don’t know it all, trust me! lol. i also feel like coaches are for ‘good’ athletes or triathletes. i certainly see how juggling a tri-training schedule can be difficult to figure out alone, so i totally see how lots of triathletes get coaches. but for (*my*) running, i just feel like it would be a waste of money i guess. i hope this doesn’t come across the wrong way. i totally am excited for you and your coach! i just don’t know about me and a coach, is what i’m trying to say i guess.
    lindsay recently researchMy Profile

    • Jason says:

      Not coming across the wrong way. You are more than entitled to your opinion. Just like eating a vegetarian diet. Doesn’t work for everybody. For me the greatest point is that I don’t have to think. I just need to read my training plan and go do it.

Speak Your Mind


CommentLuv badge

%d bloggers like this: