Paul Hayward - Life as a coached athlete: Part 2... Believe

Paul shares his thoughts on his second month of coaching with Tri Training Harder....IM Austria is fast approaching, keep reading to see how he is getting on with being coached, using Training Peaks and how it is still changing his mindset.

(If you want to read part 1 first....


it is)

“Coached athlete”. It is weird how that phrase still sounds strange now and can summon up so many different thoughts for me, from “

I am not a pro

” to “

am I good enough?

”, to even reactions from people (such as “are you going to win Austria now?”). However, if the first four weeks of my training plan has actually taught me anything it is that your training suddenly (and rightly) has real focus and you start to see results quickly, be it Strava records or even some swimming PBs, and the “stress (burden) of planning” has been completely removed. 

Focusing on riding and not worrying

So how does it work? Well before Tri Training Harder and Sorrel (my coach) my life mainly consisted of constantly checking my training plan each morning to work out what I was doing and watching heart rate zones constantly (with no idea other than “Zone 2 is key”) or how many lengths of the pool I had managed in 50 minutes.

Whilst this worked for Ironman Wales and seemed good at the time, I cannot lie - it was stressful and added pressure that I just did not need. It was another burden on me and meant that I was always worrying if I was doing enough hours or even how I was actually doing. This is not an easy pressure to have, as the race itself is enough of a worry, but when you see your friends, or even people on Facebook groups, posting how many hours they trained last week or how far their cycle was yesterday it is easy to fall into the trap of doubting yourself and your “training plan”.

All about the coffee, right Sorrel?

Fortunately this way of training and thinking has been turned upside down through being coached and having a “sounding board”. I am now in a world whereby all my forthcoming training sessions are delivered through Training Peaks (all Tri Training Harder coached athletes are given a Training Peaks premium account) and they are all set out for me week by week for the coming month. Fortunately Training Peaks has an app and this means that I can easily check my workouts for the week whenever I want, with a full description of what is required and what we are looking for and aiming for, and importantly on the move or when I have 5 minutes for a coffee (which is a blessing).

To record my training sessions I simply use Garmin Connect and these are loaded straight into Training Peaks. I then comment on how I got on, be it a swim speed set, Fartlek run or long ride,  and what I thought of the session. Through these comments and the data; Sorrel can have a look and confirm the good and the bad from each session (usually at 6am in the morning or 10pm at night!) and build me a picture of how I am doing. 

Feedback session - where's the coffee?

This “feedback” can range from telling me off for going too hard (and not understanding that “easy run” does not mean for me 8.30 minute miles - sorry) to being chuffed (and offering kudos / encouragement) for completing a speed swim set which was “brutal” or smashing the bike. In addition, this communication is supported through WhatsApp for longer chats, such as you want to switch sessions or they do not make sense to what’s going on, and means there is flexibility to the training and the plan. This approach means you genuinely feel that you are being supported each step you take and there is a method to it as the results come ringing in.

Being coached means I no longer need to think about what I am doing and how I am going to do it.  With my life at the moment, as with a lot of people taking on Ironman, any help you get is worth its weight in gold and means you can spend time doing other things like eating, sleeping, the occasional episode of Blue Bloods, or eating some more! But really means I can focus on the sessions, and not be burdened with the theory behind them.

Want to see the difference? Check my video of my swim analysis before Sorrel and as of a few weeks ago. Whilst the technical difference is apparent, breathing / strokes / posture, look at the difference in that guy swimming. He is actually believing he can swim and he has purpose.

If you met me at Christmas (or asked the person in the video on the left) I could not have believed that this was possible, not with me, but Tri Training Harder has allowed me to flourish and believe in myself, and my ability! I do not say this lightly, and it is making me believe that I will make that red carpet with Paul Kaye, and make it well.

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