Follow by Email

Monday, December 31, 2012

Running as Fast as I Can

First HNF Sponsored Event December 31, 2011

"No matter how slow you go, you are still lapping everybody on the couch"- Russell Warren

Sometimes I don't sleep well, at least not well enough to have dreams. This week on vacation I 've been able to sleep in which means dreams.  I often have pretty strange dreams and a couple days ago I had a running related one.  I'm also watching Downton Abbey this week on my kindle. Downton Abbey is a WWI British drama and I am enjoying it immensely which may be why it figured in my dream as well.

I dreamed I was doing a speed workout and was running as fast as I could go. I looked to my right and saw the character Edith from Downton Abbey right beside me.  I thought I was running really fast, but she was walking quite slowly beside me. So despite my running as fast as I could, I was really quite slow.

Usually I don't have a clue what my dreams mean.  In this case I've been concerned about my running speed. I am just coming back from a 3 month lay off due to injury. The last time I had a long layoff due to injury my running times went from a 7:15 to 10:00.  So I have been wondering if I've lost even more speed due to my recent injury.

I  tried out a GPS watch a couple of weeks ago and my easy pace was 13:00. I had a problem before with this make of watch, so I have been wondering for 2 weeks if the problem was me or the watch.

I guess I will know for sure when I do a 10 K race at the end of January.  It is frustrating and worrisome to watch the effect the progression of my CMT has on my running.  I fell twice in the last week, so the reminder is always there. I wonder how much longer I can run and if I only run a 13:00 minute mile if I will even want to. I quite racing after my bike accident because of the drop in my running times. I was no longer competitive and my feet burned. I came out of retirement when I was diagnosed so I could raise awareness of CMT.

I remind myself I am lucky to even be running and preparing for an event like Boston. I try and remember how far Team CMT has come in the last year. Exactly one year ago today I wore the HNF uniform for the first time at a Half Marathon in the Dallas area. We have grown to 110 members. On almost any weekend we have a member participating in an event to raise awareness of CMT.  I never thought this little team would grow so big and do such great things.  So Happy New Year's to all my Team CMT members. You help me to stay inspired and to stay out there running.

*********
Chris Wodke
Founder & Manager Team CMT
www.run4cmt.com

Team CMT is a group of athletes and supporters working to raise awareness and to find a cure for CMT. We have almost 100 members in 17 states. If you wish to join us visit our web site.

CMT or Charcot-Marie-Tooth is the most commonly inherited peripheral neuropathy. It affects over 155,000 Americans (as many as MS).  It is a disease of the nerves that control the muscles. It is slowly progressive, causing loss of normal function and or sensation in the lower legs/feet and arms/hands.

Symptoms include; muscle wasting in the lower legs and feet leading to foot drop, poor balance and gait problems Atrophy in the hands causes difficulty with manual dexterity.

Structural foot deformities such as high arches and hammer toes are common.

Poor tolerance for cool or cold temperatures and many people have chronically cold hands and feet.

Additional symptoms may include fatigue, sleep apnea, breathing difficulties and hearing loss.



Thursday, December 27, 2012

Getting Out the Door

Mojo

"Once you learn to quite it becomes a habit."-Vince Lombardi

The key to being successful at anything especially athletics is consistency. To be consistent as an athlete you need to work out on a regular basis.  Working out nearly every day can be a challenge.  For me the toughest part is getting started. Once I am working out I'm fine, so I've come out with a few tricks to get out the door.

Partner
When I am in Texas I run with my favorite running partner, my nephew's dog Mojo.  He gets so excited to get outside, it is contagious.  His excitement and the fun we have running together get me motivated to get out the door.  Running with a partner or a group can be fun. When training for my first marathon I met with two friends every Sunday at 6am. There was no time to procrastinate like I do when I run by myself. Having this commitment got me up and running every Sunday morning.

Errands
I started training for Boston 2 weeks ago.  The long runs are always tough. I hadn't run for almost 2 months. So to help me get out the door I decided to combine the run with doing an errand.  I had Christmas cards to mail.  I took about 10 at a time and ran to the post office. It is about 1 1/2 miles round trip and by the time
my cards were mailed my long run was done.  Sometimes I take back library books at the beginning of a run. It is just the little trick I need to get me out the door.

Competition
In the winter is is cold and it gets dark early. When I get done with work sometimes the last thing I want to do is workout.  Swim workouts are especially tough. I hate getting into a cold pool when it's cold outside. So I think about Nationals in May and wonder what my competition is doing. I think about them working out to be ready and that motivates me to not only do my workout, but do a complete workout.  I tell myself Beth Price is swimming today ( current National Champion).  No disrespect to Beth, rather the opposite. I know if I am going to win at Nationals I can't skip workouts. I know my competition is working out so I better be too.

Classes
Right now I am taking an indoor bike class. My bike leg is my weakest part of my triathlon.  I signed up for a five month long class. I never feel like going to class. Still I go every week because I've paid for it. The money is charged every month whether I show up or not. This class is tough.  Our cadence, watts and miles per hour are all posted on a big screen in front of the class.  Keeping up with everyone else is very motivating.

You may find different tricks to get you working out. It does not matter what you do to get you moving as long as you workout.

************
Chris Wodke


Saturday, December 22, 2012

My Most Memorable Christmas Gift

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal, It is the courage to continue that counts."- Winston Churchill

As I was getting ready for Christmas this year I was thinking about gifts I've gotten through the years. My most memorable gift was a pair of ice skates I got when I was 10 years old.

My parents never had a lot of money and with 7 kids buying gifts every Christmas had to have been a challenge. Most years we had piles of presents under the tree. I think most of the year my dad worked 2 jobs to pay for not only Christmas but for all the other expenses of raising a big family.

The Christmas when I was 10, my mom told me I could only ask for one present.  This year was different because my parents just could not afford more. My older brother is learning disabled. The school system was not offering much help so my parents were getting him help on their own. Paying for that help strained the family budget.  Money was so tight there was not even money for a Christmas tree.  We had two trees that year....we just did not pay for them. My dad sort of waited for the lot to close on Christmas eve and obtained two for us.

On Christmas morning under the tree was the most beautiful pair of ladies figure skates.  Even though it was the only gift I got that year I learned a few things from the experience.


Focus
When you have to whittle your list to one gift, you focus on the one thing you really want and you better make it count.  It takes that same kind of single mindedness to be successful as an athlete.  Whether its a cure for CMT, entry into the Boston Marathon or just working on my swim stroke focus is the key to success. I figure out what is most important to me and set my goal.  My goal was to run the Boston Marathon and I focused on that goal until it happened. I feel the same way about our fight to raise awareness of CMT and a cure. I won't stop until I get what I want. I also learned to ask for what you want and to go after it with laser like focus. I don't take no for an answer, when I think yes is possible.

Visualization
I learned to swim by watching others swim. I remember watching Peggy Flemming skate and I wanted to do that. So I asked for skates for my one present.  The day after Christmas we were going to be going to my grandma's house on Okauchee Lake. I knew I would get to try out my new skates. As I lay in bed that night I visualized every part of how it would feel to skate.  Well the realty was a little harsher than my picture. With my CMT ankles I could not stand on skates much less glide across the ice.  But that skill of picturing success has stayed with me. Before I ran the Boston Marathon last year I set a goal to finish in the top 3 in my division. I pictured my self standing on the podium and getting my medal.  I finished 2nd in my division and while there was no medal or podium appearance, visualizing my hoped for achievement spurred me to work out hard.  Right now I am visualizing another podium finish this time at Nationals in Austin.

Determination
Although my first skating outing was a disaster, I kept at it. Any type of sports for someone with CMT requires lots of hard work. It takes my muscles longer to learn and retain a skill than a normal athlete. I have to work much harder.  It was like that with skiing. I got up and fell down a lot,, but I mastered skiing and have been a member of the National Ski patrol for over 25 years.

In college I took up running to be a better skier. The running made my ankles strong enough so that I can after years of trying ice skate. It is just as good as I imagined all those years ago. While I won't be doing an spins like Peggy Flemming I can make it a whole hour with out falling.  I have given up skating for the last 2 years, even though I love it. I am so afraid of falling and breaking a wrist would interfere with training for Boston and Nationals. A small price I am willing to pay.

Funny I should remember that single gift over 40 years ago and what it taught me with such clarity. I was not sad I was only getting one gift, just grateful and appreciative for the gift I did get and I made the most of it. I learned it is challenge that changes you and you learn more from mistakes than success.

Having CMT has been like that, I've never asked "why me". I've seen the CMT and the ability I do have as an athlete and I will take the lessons I learned when I was 10 and apply them to my fight to raise awareness of CMT and to find a cure.
Have a Merry and memorable Christmas

Chris Wodke
Founder & Manager Team CMT

Monday, December 17, 2012

Boston II


I just finished week 1 of training for my 2nd Boston Marathon. In just 17 weeks, if I am lucky I will be lining up once again on the starting line.  I have decided this is going to be a different Boston experience.Getting to the starting line is no sure thing. About 20% of runners training for a marathon don't make it to the starting line due to injury. I limped into my first week of training. So this Boston will be different because I am starting on injured legs.

I've been injured since just after last year's marathon.   I ran the Paratriathlon National Sprint Championship on bad ankles. I competed all summer hoping they would get better. I finally stopped running in mid-September to finally get treatment.  After being looked at by a about a dozen medical professionals, an ultra-sound and MRI, I was diagnosed with a cyst on the right ankle. The doctor has tried unsuccessfully to drain it. I am getting physical therapy and it is getting a bit better.  It could be worse. I thought it was tendinitis or a tear.

That still leaves the left ankle. I noticed the problems started when I switched to clip less bike pedals. I think it is due to the ankle instability that comes with CMT.  I asked my therapist about how to deal with it, and he said experiment to see what works.   So I have been taping my ankles with hope that it will add some stability.

So it may be time for another look at my bike fit. I am biking twice a week so it is possible this is causing the problem.  I am treating it with home ultrasound and keeping my fingers crossed

Last year there was quite a bit of publicity surround my Boston run. While I will be happy to do any interviews,  I won't seek them out.  The notice I got did put pressure on me to perform.  I felt like I was representing the whole CMT community. Some one at my CMT group told me, "We are all counting on you."

I feel like I proved myself last year and this year I want to enjoy the experience.  One thing that won't change is I will still be raising funds for CMT research.

The course was brutally hot and honestly it was a tough day. It was a fight to finish. I am hoping to enjoy the experience a little more this time.  The Boston fans are the best and I plan on having a good time.  If running 26 miles of hills is a good time. So I am running this one for me and if I happen to raise a little awareness for CMT and some funds for research it will be a bonus.  No pressure on myself this time.

Last year I set a goal of finishing  in the top 3 in my division. I accomplished that. I am going to train hard, but not be too concerned about the results this time.  I plan on training hard, but maybe with just a little less intensity than last year.  With any luck 17 weeks from today, I will be enjoying my latest Boston Marathon finish.

***********************************************
Chris Wodke
Founder & Manager Team CMT


Team CMT is a group of athletes and supporters working to raise awareness and to find a cure for CMT. We have almost 100 members in 17 states. If you wish to join us visit our web site.

CMT or Charcot-Marie-Tooth is the most commonly inherited peripheral neuropathy. It affects over 155,000 Americans (as many as MS).  It is a disease of the nerves that control the muscles. It is slowly progressive, causing loss of normal function and or sensation in the lower legs/feet and arms/hands.

Symptoms include; muscle wasting in the lower legs and feet leading to foot drop, poor balance and gait problems Atrophy in the hands causes difficulty with manual dexterity.

Structural foot deformities such as high arches and hammer toes are common.

Poor tolerance for cool or cold temperatures and many people have chronically cold hands and feet.

Additional symptoms may include fatigue, sleep apnea, breathing difficulties and hearing loss.

In 2012 Chris finished 2nd in the Mobility Impaired Division of the Boston Marathon was the National Champion in the Physically Challenged Division of the Para-triathlon National Sprint Championship in Austin Texas.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

When you can't afford a coach

Judy Coates  Chicago Team CMT member


Maybe hiring a coach isn't in your budget. Maybe you just like doing things yourself. In Either case there are alternatives to improving your performance.  Here are few ideas.
Triathlon Club
Tri Wisconsin here in Milwaukee sponsors a beginner triathlon class. The class includes a training plan, nutrition ideas and seminars on bike repair, transitions and wet suits.  A local vendor came the night we talked about wet suits so we could try them out in the pool. 
This group also publishes a weekly newsletter listing local group classes offered by member coaches.   I found my Compu-trainer class through their newsletter.  Last April they offered a swim clinic with video swim stroke analysis. They have a Wednesday night running group.  They have a Facebook site where members can communicate. If you have a training question or want to know about a race someone will probably know the answer.
The club brings in speakers. Last Saturday I attended a seminar on sports nutrition by registered dietician Monique Ryan.  It was free for members.  Monique does one on one nutrition consulting, but we got lots of good advice for free and a chance to buy her book if we wanted to learn more.
Membership in Tri Wisconsin also gets members discounts in some local races, discounts at local running stores and discounts with some national level vendors. My membership more than pays for itself in discounts.   Check in your area for a club you can join, some activities may be open to non members.  Finding a local triathlon club in your area to approve your triathlon skills.

Running Club

Check your local running club for training opportunities. The local Milwaukee running club, Badgerland Striders offers beginner and intermediate racing classes. I took the beginner class and we did track workouts where we learned about speed training, did tempo runs,  and learned about weightlifting and helpful stretches.  The last event in the class was a 5 K race. Doing track workouts is a lot more fun when you have company.  The Striders also sponsor weekly fun runs. They have a message board on their web site and a Facebook page. If you have a training question or need information about a race you can usually get a quick answer.

Running/Biking/Triathlon Stores
Most of these shops sponsor rides/runs.   Check with your local area to see what group activities are going on.  Most athletes are happy to help if you have an equipment or training question.  Working out with a group can be a great way to find experienced athletes to ask for advice.   Sometimes these training groups are pretty intense so check the pace they will be running or riding.  If you are really good you might be asked to join their sponsored team.

Group Training

Many coaches will offer group training. This can be a way to get the coaching you need, while splitting the cost with a group.  Joy Von Werder does this with her Train to Tri groups in Florida and Playtri in Dallas where Morgan Johnson coaches offers group session.    There are two local groups in Milwaukee offering group session, P3 and Tri Faster.  P3 has an Iron Man training group, offers classes and one on one training.

Classes
Taking a class can be a great way to improve running, biking or swimming. You get a group rate and some feedback on the specific sport. 
My bike leg is the weakest part of my triathlon. So I decided to take an indoor class this winter.  It will keep me fit through the winter and I am getting correction on my pedaling technique. I also got a VO2 analysis as part of the class to help plan my workouts.   Check your local YMCA, Health Club, Park and Rec department or local community college. 
The Milwaukee Public School system has a continuing education department. Two years ago I took a triathlon class with them.  The coach was a swim coach at the local high school and the class included feedback on your swim stroke.  It was fun to train with others and I worked harder when with the group than I did on my own.  They are offering a class again starting in January.
The same group also offers a Master’s swim program for triathletes.  The class includes coaching and workouts to improve performance.  They have a less intense class for beginners.
Check with your gym, YMCA, community center or school system for classes.

Books/Videos

Books or videos can be a great alternative for the time crunched athlete. You can get your information on your schedule anywhere.   Do a search on Amazon for ideas. One of the great things about Amazon is they make recommendations for other items based on your current and past searches. You can pick up used books for a fraction of the price of new. If you are a Kindle user, most books  have a Kindle version. Here are just a few ideas from books I have used or are on my Amazon wish list.

Complete Triathlon Guide published by USA Triathlon
Hansen Marathon Method- Luke Humphrey
Chi Marathon- Danny Dreyer and Katherine Dreyer
Chi Running- Danny Dreyer and Katherine Dreyer
Cutting Edge Cycling- Hunter Allen
Sports Nutrition for Endurance Athletes- Monique Ryan
Triathletes Training Bible- Joel Friel
The Athletes Guide to Recovery- Sage Roundtree
Swim Secrets for Swimmers & Triathletes- Shelia Torimira
USA Triathalon Training Series-DVD

Magazines
I have subscriptions to Runners World, Biking, Women’s Running and Triathlete Magazine. All of these magazines have articles on training plans, nutrition, workouts and other advice. I am still using a marathon training plan I got from Runner’s World many years ago. These publications can be a low cost source of training information.  Try out there plans and adapt so it works for you. I get a weekly email newsletter from Runners World full of training tips.

USAT Membership

I have a United States Triathlon (USAT) membership.  The USAT publishes an internet news letter with tips on workout plans, nutrition, training tips and just about anything you would want to know about participating in triathlons. They also post their vendor deals in this newsletter. You get the newsletter free as a USAT member. They also sponsor webinars on training topics and host a blog with contributions from USAT coaches.  Team CMT member Morgan Johnson is one of the contributors.

Internet
You can do a search on training plans and get what you are looking for from a variety of sources. Some are free, others are offered by coaches for a fee.

DC Rainmaker
This blog has extensive product reviews. Almost too extensive they get so detailed.  This triathlete also does race reviews, publishes how to guides and trip reports.  If there is a product on the market he has reviewed it. He also makes recommendation on products to buy.
http://www.dcrainmaker.com/

Team MPI
Has an online site with coaching tips; you cans sign up for on line coaching and get their free email newsletter.  I subscribe to this site, there are lots of others out there.
http://www.teammpi.com/

LinkedIn
I belong to a number of groups on the site for runners and triathletes. In addition to lots of people selling products and services, you will find members posting training tips or posting questions.  The members are great about offering advice on all aspects of training

Facebook
Team CMT
If you are looking for advice, post a question on the Team CMT facebook site. We have lots of experienced athletes and coaches. One of us can probably help.

They have a facebook page and offer webinars, live chats and articles on triathlon training.

***********
Chris Wodke
Founder & Manager Team CMT
www.run4cmt.com

Team CMT is a group of athletes and supporters working to raise awareness and to find a cure for CMT. We have almost 100 members in 17 states. If you wish to join us visit our web site.

CMT or Charcot-Marie-Tooth is the most commonly inherited peripheral neuropathy. It affects over 155,000 Americans (as many as MS).  It is a disease of the nerves that control the muscles. It is slowly progressive, causing loss of normal function and or sensation in the lower legs/feet and arms/hands.

Symptoms include; muscle wasting in the lower legs and feet leading to foot drop, poor balance and gait problems Atrophy in the hands causes difficulty with manual dexterity.

Structural foot deformities such as high arches and hammer toes are common.

Poor tolerance for cool or cold temperatures and many people have chronically cold hands and feet.

Additional symptoms may include fatigue, sleep apnea, breathing difficulties and hearing loss

Saturday, December 8, 2012

A Milestone for Team CMT




"After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb."- unknown

It was a year ago this week  I flew to Philadelphia to meet Allison Moore, President of the HNF.  Allison drove down from New York just to meet me and talk about a partnership. I connected with Allison through Facebook. I tried to recruit her sister Kim Farren when she posted a fundraising message for the Richmond Marathon and Kim connected me to Allison. Allison and Kim are sisters.

I loved Allison from the moment we met. She shares the same passion for raising awareness of CMT through athletics As a CMT affected athlete she understand the challenges of battling CMT and trying to stay active.  Allison is so committed to this cause she does not take a salary from the foundation and works full time on HNF work.

She offered financial support and resources to promote our cause.  I knew by joining with the HNF Team CMT would be in good hands if I was not able to support the team. Managing a team of our size takes money and time. HNF offered support and resources to help grow the team.

It has been an eventful year. Although the mission of the team is raising awareness, members have started raising funds.  The HNF currently supports research at the University of California Davis Medical School, the University of Southern California and Dr. Chetlin's research on exercise and CMT at the Medical School of the University of West Virginia.  So far the team has raised $29,000 for research and HNF programs.

In addition to research, and Team CMT, the HNF runs Camp CMT and the school program Arlene on the Scene to educate kids about CMT.

We've grown to 108 members in 24 states, Canada, Vietnam and Iran.  The CMTA has an awareness month, Team CMT raises awareness every month.

 Members have participated in events every month this year all around the United States and in Europe. I am awed and humbled by the accomplishments of the 24 athletes on this team with CMT. We have athletes doing Iron Man competitions, and marathons.  Things medical science says we can't do.
We have three team members that have qualified for the Paratriathlon Sprint Championship and two team member with qualifying times for the Boston Marathon. This team has raised awareness to a degree I never imagined with I started this team.

Last month we introduced Team CMT kids and we have our first team starting in Dallas.  Morgan Johnson will be leading a group through Playtri.   I am looking forward to many more groups in the future. I want to make CMT as well known as MS.  No one with CMT should get a blank look when they tell someone they have CMT.

This team has done much to raise awareness. We have climbed that small hill. We still have allot of work ahead of us to find treatments and a cure for CMT. I don't think Team CMT could have a better partner.


***************

Chris Wodke
Founder & Manager Team CMT
www.run4cmt.com

Team CMT is a group of athletes and supporters working to raise awareness and to find a cure for CMT. We have almost 100 members in 17 states. If you wish to join us visit our web site.

CMT or Charcot-Marie-Tooth is the most commonly inherited peripheral neuropathy. It affects over 155,000 Americans (as many as MS).  It is a disease of the nerves that control the muscles. It is slowly progressive, causing loss of normal function and or sensation in the lower legs/feet and arms/hands.

Symptoms include; muscle wasting in the lower legs and feet leading to foot drop, poor balance and gait problems Atrophy in the hands causes difficulty with manual dexterity.

Structural foot deformities such as high arches and hammer toes are common.

Poor tolerance for cool or cold temperatures and many people have chronically cold hands and feet.

Additional symptoms may include fatigue, sleep apnea, breathing difficulties and hearing loss.



Thursday, December 6, 2012

Selecting a Coach

Di Billick of Indiana



"Those who say it cannot be done, should get out of the way of those doing it."- unknown

I wrote in my last blog about some of the advantages of hiring an athletic coach. So what should you look for when choosing a coach?  Here are some things to consider.

Location
Are you ok with email or phone coaching?  My coach lives in Florida and we do all our coaching via email.  Many coaches will do their coaching by phone.  If you are someone that needs face to face interaction, then pick someone local.  If you are looking for a triathlon coach the USAT has page with a map of locations for their certified coaches.  http://www.usatriathlon.org/audience/coaching/contents.aspx

If you are looking for a running or strength coach you can check with your local gym for recommendation, local running club or triathlon club.   Badger land Striders is the local running club in Milwaukee and Tri Wisconsin is the local triathlon club.  Both have listings for local coaches in their newsletters.  We have two USAT certified coaches with experience with working with athletes with CMT.

Morgan Johnson
Dallas, Texas
http://www.playtri.com/

Joy Von Werder
Winter Springs Florida
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Train-to-Tri/196058501165
Joy is my coach and Morgan coaches teammate Joyce Kelly. Both of us have qualified for the Para triathlon National Sprint Championships in Austin in May.

Special Needs
As an athlete with CMT, I have issues which affect my athletic abilities. It is important to get a coach that understands any special needs you might have like CMT.  Because of my CMT I cannot run every day without getting injured.  I hired a coach last February to help me get ready for Boston and Nationals.  I paid $60 for an initial consultation where I shared my limitations.  He put together a training program that had 3 consecutive days of running. He also did it the next time he put together a program even though I had reminded him of my limitations.  Needless to say our coaching relationship did not last long because not only did he not listen to my needs, he did not accommodate them in my training program. My current coach Joy Von Werder does understand the needs of a CMT affected athlete.  Morgan Johnson also a Team CMT member and USAT certified coach has experience working with Joyce Kelly a CMT affected athlete.

Goals
What are your goals as an athlete? When you interview a coach, do they really listen to what you want to do rather than try and sell you on their service?  Can they help you meet those goals?  What do you need to work on?  Is your goal to run faster, have a faster bike leg, be more confident in the swim or have better transitions? A good coach will not promise to help you achieve unrealistic goals.  They should not promise you to help you qualify for Boston, if you are not currently running the needed mileage to support that type of marathon program.

Education and Background
I like to have someone who has been or is an athlete themselves. They know what it is like to complete and the preparation needed.  Look for someone that had an education in athletic training, exercise science, exercise physiology or something related. For triathlon training look for a USAT certified coach.  If looking for a coach for other sports look from US Cycling, US Swimming or USA Track and Field.  If looking for nutrition information look for certification as a Register Dietitian (RD). Other types of certification could include National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) or American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) for personal trainers.

Philosophy
What is your coach’s approach to training? I had a running coach that did not believe in rest days or stretching. He believed that because the elite athletes he coached did not take rest days or stretch much.  I hate stretching and following his advice set me up for injury. I did adjust my training to include stretching and took rest days because I needed them. I learned a lot from this coach but my training philosophy did not always match with his.
Experience
How much experience does you coach have? Does that experience match with the goals you are trying to achieve.  If you are a beginner triathlete, you may not be a good match with someone training elite athletes. You may be better off with a coach that specialized in working with beginners if you are getting ready for your first triathlon.  My goal is not only to get the Nationals in Austin, but to win the National Championship in the T3 category. My coach is helping me to do the things I need to do to be ready for this type of competition.  She has also qualified for this event and knows what I need to do to be successful. She like Morgan Johnson has in interest in working with physically challenged athletes.

Chemistry
This is one of the more important factors. Do you mesh? Do you click? Do you communicate well? You have to communicate well to have trust in your coach. If you don’t have trust it can be difficult to take their advice.  I knew right away when emailing my coach we were a good fit. Sometimes you have to be with someone for a while before you know if it is working.
 My coach Joy is a huge help with dealing with pre-race anxiety.   A lot of racing and training is mental.  She gives me coaching and advice in places where I really need it.  She also understands what it means to be an athlete with CMT. For me that is huge. She knows what I am experiencing and the challenges I face.
 I also know she has my best interests at heart.   When I had to file an appeal of my Nationals results last year, Joy went to bat for me with the USAT and appeared at the phone conference. The support she provides goes well beyond work out plans. She is actively working to help me achieve my goal of winning a National Championship.

Services
What do you need and what do they offer?  Some coaches are very specific to one sport. Some offer VO2 testing, bike fit, gait analysis. Some only offer workout plans. Some have once a month phone chats. I am more needy then that. I talk to my coach 5-6 days a week via email.  Not many coaches provide that kind of service or will do it for all their athletes. Your goals will help you determine if their services are a good match for you.

Cost
One on one coaching is not cheap.  The coach I hired last year, had two fee schedules. One was $60 a month for just a template workout plan. Once a month email coaching with a customized plan was $200.  Coaches with experience coaching elite athletes get $300 or more.  Some offer camps and other services for their monthly fee. You have to determine what you can afford. There are alternatives to one on one coaching which I will discuss in a future blog.

Questions
If you are thinking of hiring a coach you will want to talk with them to get a feel for their style, determine if they can help you and if you are a good fit. Here are some questions you may want to ask;
·         What is your fee and what does that include?
·         Is the workout customized for me?
·         What is included in your services?
·         How often will we communicate?
·         Can you work with someone with CMT ( or other challenge you may have)?
·         What certifications do you have?
·         What types of athletes do you work with (beginner, elite, pro, senior, youth, challenged, etc.)
·         Are you a current or former athlete? What is your athletic experience?
·         What is your educational background?
·         Do I need to sign a contract?
These questions will help you get an idea if this is the right coach for you. You may select one like I did and find you aren't working well together.  You do what I did and move on to another coach.  Coaching can be an investment and may not be in your budget. In a future blog I will talk about some alternatives to one on one coaching.

************************

Chris Wodke
Founder & Manager Team CMT
www.run4cmt.com

Team CMT is a group of athletes and supporters working to raise awareness and to find a cure for CMT. We have almost 100 members in 17 states. If you wish to join us visit our web site.

CMT or Charcot-Marie-Tooth is the most commonly inherited peripheral neuropathy. It affects over 155,000 Americans (as many as MS).  It is a disease of the nerves that control the muscles. It is slowly progressive, causing loss of normal function and or sensation in the lower legs/feet and arms/hands.

Symptoms include; muscle wasting in the lower legs and feet leading to foot drop, poor balance and gait problems Atrophy in the hands causes difficulty with manual dexterity.

Structural foot deformities such as high arches and hammer toes are common.

Poor tolerance for cool or cold temperatures and many people have chronically cold hands and feet.

Additional symptoms may include fatigue, sleep apnea, breathing difficulties and hearing loss.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Should you hire a coach?

PC Division National Championship Medal- 2012
Capitol of Texas Triathlon

"Efficiency is doing things right. Effectiveness is doing the right things." Peter Drucker

Have you been trying to figure out a workout plan you should use for a running event or triathlon? Trying to get into better shape or get faster. All of these can be reasons to hire a coach. Based on my experience here are some ways you can benefit from hiring a coach or trainer;

Injury Prevention
One of the biggest benefits of hiring a coach is they can prevent the over-training that can lead to injury. Especially when starting a training program, you feel fresh, you are excited and you want to work hard. It is very easy to do too much and get hurt.  A serious injury can ruin all your efforts and cause you to miss an event you trained weeks and months to do. They do this by helping you to develop a training plan and sticking with it. They will find out how the training program is going and make adjustments if you are getting sore or tired..
Proper Technique
I am a self-taught swimmer. How do I know I have the proper stroke unless I get someone to look at it?   A coach can watch you run or swim and provide feedback.  A coach can watch you as you lift weights and provide correction on your form. Not only will you be a more efficient athlete, but one less likely to get injured.

Advice

A good coach is also an athlete or at least a former one. They’ve raced and can share their advice on transitions, race day prep, race strategy, nutrition and a host of issues. If they don’t know themselves more than likely they know someone that can help you.  I know my coach has helped me to be better at race transitions during the triathlon.   She has given me a race day triathlon list so I don’t forget anything important on race day. ( If I don’t forget the list)  The advice needed will be different for each athlete. A good coach will find the areas you need help and adjust them. Much better than trying to figure out everything on your own.

Accountability
If you know you will be reporting to someone you are more likely to complete workouts.  That can be good motivation for getting through a training plan.  I know if I am paying someone to put a plan together I am more likely to follow through.

Reaching Goals
Whether you want to finish a marathon, qualify for Boston, finish an Iron man event or get faster a coach can help. They can give you specific drills to get faster and be more comfortable over whatever distance you plan to cover.  A good coach will find out your goals and devise not only a workout plan but specific workouts to reach your goals. 

One of the things I am working on is my swim stroke. My coach has suggested equipment to use to get better and she suggests workouts to do in the pool. I never would have figured this out on my own since I have very little swim training.

 I had my best season as a runner when coached by Milwaukee running coach John Herod. He taught me about speed work and tempo runs. I consistently placed in my age group in local races because of the things he taught me. Things I still use as a runner today.

A coach can save you time. Sure you can put together a training program, having a coach do it may save you valuable time.  I write up a plan and have my coach review it.   I like the planning part and have a good idea of what works for me.  I use my coach for cycling and swim work outs and to review what I have put together. A coach will help you do things right and make sure you are doing the right things to meet your goals.  My coach Joy Von Werder, helped me place 1st in the PC division of the National Championship last year in Austin. I will be going back this May and hope to place first in the T3 division this time, which would mean a spot on Team USA.

Technology/Tools
Technology is constantly changing and can be confusing.  A coach can help you sort through it all.  There are some good tools for runners and triathletes and a coach can help you pick the one that will benefit you the most.   One of the first things my coach suggested was a bike computer with a cadence meter.  It is an essential piece of training equipment for cyclist and I didn’t have one. Thinking about a GPS watch, heart monitor, and power meter? A coach can help you sort it all out.

Confidence
One of the biggest challenges is managing your own fears and doubts. A good coach prepares you mentally as well as physically.  I talk with my coach quite often about how workouts are going and she is especially helpful when I get discouraged or frustrated with my CMT limitations.  She helps me with race selection and can tell when I need a break.   I get nervous right before a race and go over detail after detail. I ask lots of questions to get everything straight.  My coach walks me through it all so I can be calm by race day.

There are lots of options out there for coaching and in a future blog I’ll discuss how to find a coach and some options besides one on one coaching.

Chris Wodke
Founder & Manager Team CMT
www.run4cmt.com

Team CMT is a group of athletes and supporters working to raise awareness and to find a cure for CMT. We have almost 100 members in 17 states. If you wish to join us visit our web site.

CMT or Charcot-Marie-Tooth is the most commonly inherited peripheral neuropathy. It affects over 155,000 Americans (as many as MS).  It is a disease of the nerves that control the muscles. It is slowly progressive, causing loss of normal function and or sensation in the lower legs/feet and arms/hands.

Symptoms include; muscle wasting in the lower legs and feet leading to foot drop, poor balance and gait problems Atrophy in the hands causes difficulty with manual dexterity.

Structural foot deformities such as high arches and hammer toes are common.

Poor tolerance for cool or cold temperatures and many people have chronically cold hands and feet.

Additional symptoms may include fatigue, sleep apnea, breathing difficulties and hearing loss.