Part 1: Introduction:
Reese Vannerson is the 2017 12 year old AAU national champion in the 800 meter, 1500 meter, and 3000 meter events. Over the past year, I have been lucky to work with such a talent, but its had its fair share of ups and downs in terms of efficiency. Throughout this 3 part series, I will take you through our introduction, tactics, tools we use, and methods for improving. The goal of this series will be to inform the reader on how to maximize their racing and correctly select guidance, even if they aren’t located within your town.
It would be ignorant of me not to mention the help Reese gets on a local level. Reese is part of a track team in Sugar land Texas, goes to swim practice with a local youth group, has access to a local cycling network for indoor training, and has a great support crew in place. While I feel what we have done has positively impacted Reese in his endeavors, it takes a village to create a champion. Reese’s parents have gone above and beyond in providing him with training groups in order to constantly push him and strive for the goals he has set.
I met Reese at a Mind Right Endurance camp in June of 2016. He was a young 11 year old and my colleague Jeremy Brown had been advising him in a couple of his endurance disciplines. Over the course of camp we were able to ride together for many miles, get to know each other, and start to form a bond that would be re-examined in Winter of 2016-2017.
When Winter rolled around in 2017, Reese’s dad Rodney Vannerson, Jeremy Brown, and myself got together to identify that Reese and I would be a good fit given we both had goals of excellence in endurance athletics. At that moment, we decided that I would oversee Reese’s development in terms of overall management of performance. Reese would still have his track coach, still have his swim coach, but I would oversee cycling and eventually look over all of his data from a performance aspect.
To initially get started, we set up his TrainingPeaks account which allows any endurance coach to program in workouts and have his/her athlete upload their training files. Essentially, a coach will go in and write a workout (run 4 miles for example) and if the athlete does the workout and records it on a device (a watch), it can be uploaded to show the coach GPS files, heart rate, speed, elevation, etc. Depending on what the watch does will depend on how much data you can receive. For reese, this meant that I would see his pace, power (Stryd running power meter), heart rate, elevation, and cadence. On the bike I would see his heart rate and power meter as well. Having these tools available, we focused in on a plan that would help Reese maximize his racing and aim to set personal records and hopefully achieve his goal of national championships.
Talking with a 12 year old will make you re-think how you coach an athlete. Having worked with more experienced athletes (ages 22-60), I had developed a certain type of dialogue that I was comfortable with. Within the first 5 minutes of talking with Reese, I knew that I was going to have to change the way I coached. While challenging, I was excited for this change of pace as I felt it would bring me back to the roots of coaching and also allow myself to learn throughout the journey as well. If you think you understand something in depth, try discussing that topic with a young adult, I bet you will have a new outlook on the material and it will give you a new perspective as well!
So, Reese was on board, I was learning on the fly, his parents trusted in me as a coach, and I knew I had a job to do. In part 2 of this series I will touch on the technology we have used to help Reese (while being 1000 miles away) work with me 1-on-1 and see actual improvements that have led to his development as an athlete.
Part 2: Technology of Coaching an Athlete 1000 miles away.