Let’s get started!

Hi and welcome to the first issue of Steel City Endurance’s Coaching Corner.  My name is Suzanne Atkinson, and I’ll be your virtual coach for the 2012 Pittsburgh Triathlon. My goal for you is to make sure that you feel fully prepared to participate in this year’s triathlon or adventure race regardless of your previous experience in triathlon.

You may be curious who I am and why I’ve decided to help Friends of the Riverfront in this way.  I have been involved in athletics as long as I can remember, as a teenager & college student I swam, played soccer, volleyball,  ultimate Frisbee and began mountain biking & racing.  However, during medical school and residency I recognized that I no longer had time for all my different sports and interests. While I continued running to stay in shape, even time for that was rare. I noted a triathlon coming up and decided that “cross training” would be ideal for me.  I took part in my first triathlon with little preparation.  While I finished and enjoyed it, physically it was a struggle.  Without a plan I simply guessed at what to do…and I didn’t do it very well!

The following year I wasn’t consistent. I gained weight, I worked late hours and herniated a disc in my back.  Surgery improved the pain, but I had gained weight and lost a lot of fitness. Getting back into swimming for therapy re-awakened my confidence in my body and myself.  I lost 20 lbs, began running again and decided to try my second triathlon.  I followed a plan that I found online, and 8 months later completed my first International Distance triathlon and felt fantastic.  Over the next year, I hired a coach, won a lottery slot in the Escape from Alcatraz triathlon and finally became a coach myself.

My number one objective as the official coach of the 2012 Pittsburgh Triathlon is to make sure that every single person participating in the race feels prepared for race day.   From goal setting to planning your training to the day to day mechanics of preparation, I’ll be helping you.  Monthly articles, weekly blog posts, seminars and hands on skills clinics will help you get the most out of your limited time. Let’s get started

What’s Your Motivation?

Before you read any further, just take a minute or so and mull over this question.  Why did you sign up for the 2012 Pittsburgh Triathlon & Adventure Race?  Your first response to “Why?” may be something along these lines, “I need a new challenge”, “I want to get it better shape”, “My sister did one last year and I want to prove that I can do it to”.

Here’s where this starts to get interesting.  Let’s go one step beyond the answer you just came up with. One athlete gave me an answer along these lines, “My son does triathlons and I wanted an activity that I could do with him”.   I asked him if he could explain that to me a little bit more.  Why was it so important to him to find an activity to share with his son?  Then the story behind the story came out.  It turns out that his son was on active duty soldier serving in Afghanistan.  He and fellow soldiers at the base were training for a triathlon scheduled after they returned from duty.  My athlete signed up for the same event, and it was this bond with his son that created his underlying motivation to train.

Now that is a powerful story.   You story may be different, but it should be no less motivating for you!  When you can identify your “story behind the story” it’s easy to find the will and motivation to stick with the goal you’ve set for yourself.

Share your Motivation

If you are not certain of your motivation behind signing up for your first triathlon, I really encourage you to dig deep, find it, and share it with us on the Pittsburgh Triathlon Facebook page. Stating your goal and your motivation publicly will further forge your commitment when motivation is weak.

(http://www.facebook.com/pages/Pittsburgh-Triathlon-and-Adventure-Race/99047139625 )

In the next article corner I’ll discuss some basic mechanics for swimming, which is can be a troublesome activity for a lot of people.  Until then, please take a  moment and share with us your reasons for signing up for the 2012 Pittsburgh Triathlon.

-Coach Suzanne

Suzanne Atkinson, MD, founder & head coach of Steel City Endurance, LTD is a Level 2 Certified USA Triathlon & USA Cycling Coach.  She works with endurance athletes of all abilities from first time finisher to elite amateur and in all distances from Sprint to Ironman Distance.