As we began on our journey in Winter of 2016-2017, Reese’s parents made it clear that he was lacking interaction. From a coaching perspective I knew that there were options for us to use that would help alleviate the problem of being 1000 miles way. While local coaches are fantastic and I would strongly urge everyone to seek one out, sometimes they get wrapped up in just a traditional sense of coaching which includes a stop watch and vocalization at practice. While this is needed, I wanted to provide Reese with another perspective which included interactive technology and advanced performance tracking. Below is how we achieved this.
Quite possibly the easiest solution to not being in person was utilizing the software Skype. Since early 2017, we have set up weekly calls on Skype so we can not only talk, but be held accountable, presentable, and respectful to each other. We put a premium on listening to each other which can be visualized over the video feed. Every Monday at 4:00 PM we have spent 30-60 minutes going over Reese’s training, his plan of attack for the next week, his weaknesses, his areas of strength, and then possibly most important, just getting to know each other outside of sport. To form a strong relationship with a coach/athlete, you need to be more than just sport. This is something that I am passionate about so I always ensure that we discuss fun activities outside of training that either himself or I are going through at the time. Training simply off data can de-humanize a person, so by keeping that human element in there is critical for the connection and trust on both sides of the relationship in my opinion.
STRYD Power Meter
The best advancement in the sport of running has been the power meter. Reese’s father Rodney was supportive of the idea and what it could mean for his son, so he was able to purchase one of them through our business and we haven’t looked back since. While Reese is out training with his friends at track practice, he is going through group activities or running intervals. While he has a sense of how it feels, the only data that he can go off of is his pace and times. At the end of the day, a fast pace is whats needed to win national championships, but there is a lot more that goes into pace other than just tracking seconds and speed. By looking at Reese’s power numbers and intervals, we were able to identify a threshold value and anaerobic value. Trying to describe these ideas to a 12 year old has been challenging, so instead we focus on feelings in the body. Do you feel like your legs are on fire? Do you feel like you’re gasping for air? Okay good, thats exactly what the numbers indicate… what if we pace it like this, how does that feel? These conversations went on for 4-6 months. Reese had to take a step back in his mentality to take 3 large steps forward. Luckily for me, he was willing to try.. and together we worked through the difficult times of slower results or not winning events. Over the past 8 months, the stryd power meter has been one of the best tools we have used as it gives me exact data on what he is doing and how to best inform his decisions going forward. I will discuss more on how it won him National Championships in Part 3
This may be the key that unlocked Reese’s 2017 potential. We have recently started using ZWIFT which is an interactive cycling software. Reese pairs up his power meter to his computer, I do the same thing, and we both have avatars on a screen riding together. While this is great for anyone of any age (I personally use it for all of my indoor cycling training), it was especially effective for a 12 year old that enjoys video games. Again, his father approved of the software and helped set it up, and we have been using this over the past several months to teach Reese specific pacing strategies and execution. While on ZWIFT we will get on a call and set up speaker phone so we can ride, see each others avatar next to each other.. and talk over the phone. It has been our “ah-ha” moment in terms of getting that hands on feel while being 1000 miles away. We are literally training together in unison regardless that we are in separate garages in Texas and North Carolina. In Part 3 I will discuss our training protocol for teaching Reese pacing tactics in his races.
As I alluded to in Part 1, we utilize the training software TrainignPeaks and WKO4+ (behind the scenes). It allows all of Reese’s workouts to be uploaded so I can view them, ensure he is getting in the training required (but not too much, he is only 12 years old) and give feedback on what I’m seeing. This mixed with all of our other technology has allowed for a customized approach to every workout he does.
In Part 3 of this series I will discuss specifics into Reese’s training approach and how we have worked to improve his performance.