Tim Ansell reflects on his time in Boulder at the Training Peaks Endurance Coaching Summit
My reason for make a pilgrimage to the mecca of endurance sports, Boulder was to attend Training Peaks University (TPU) and the Endurance Coaching Summit.
What can I say but WOW? How inspiring! Just being around other coaches and listening to amazing inspirational speakers was incredible. The enthusiasm is infectious, driving you to implement, make changes and to develop as a coach. I was taken aback by the willingness to share, help, support each other to develop our coaching or business.
Training Peaks University
Training Peaks University is a must for those coaches using Training Peaks. There are so many positive things you can take from the course: you are shown short cuts; how to interpret the metrics; guidelines on and what to look for; make you more efficient; how to clean the data (i.e. power spikes); and, how to check if the athlete has achieved the prescribed workout in the right zones. Depending on the level of athlete the group of coaches were coaching meant we all had different depths of analysing required. Nevertheless, we all had something to learn. The opportunity to ask questions and share experiences is invaluable in a collaborative environment such as ours.
There were also optional workshops, such as ‘Fundamentals of Coaching’ with triathlon coaching legend Joe Friel, ‘WKO’ with Cody Stevenson, ‘How to turn your part-time hobby into a full-time business’ with Jen Rulon and ‘Data informed planning’ with Nate Wilson. There was something for everyone depending on your specific requirements, whether it be coaching or developing your business.
I chose, ‘Strength & Conditioning for the Endurance Athlete’ with Jess Elliot. Jess is the owner and founder TAG Performance LLC. The workshop talked us through the fundamentals of S&C. Also took us through a structured warm up before moving through various techniques and specific progressions / regressions that we could apply to our athletes. It was a very hands on clinic where we could practise the different exercises.
The two takeaways for me were 1) how to assess your athlete and 2) how to build your athlete to ensure they are resilient and robust enough to cope with the demands and stresses of the training you are prescribing. Both takeaways help me to ensure I can get my athletes to the start line in the best condition possible to achieve their goal.
The Endurance Coaching Summit
The summit was split into two well-structured days of Round Tables, Keynote Speakers and Applied Science Breakouts. We were divided in half and given a blue or red pass to help move us around the summit with ease and ensured that one area was not overloaded with coaches and gave everyone an opportunity to listen to exactly what they wanted to.
You couldn't do everything so a few moments were needed to review the schedule and make some informed decisions as to how to achieve as much as possible to develop yourself as a coach. However, you always have the comfort that everything was filmed so you can always review it when you get home. I side-stepped the developing business presentations for the moment. However, I got very much drawn into conversations during lunch, as this is a very important area for some people - the big question "So, how much do you charge?"
There were two keynotes at the beginning of each day:
Day 1, Stacy Sims: The Female Athlete "Think Performance, not Pathophysiology" and the author of "Roar". An amazing and passionate speaker encouraging us all to embrace the sometimes taboo subjects such as menstrual cycles, the menopause and how these can affect the training of female athletes. If you coach a female athlete: be brave and start having these conversations you maybe surprised and encouraged by how receptive this could be and start you on the road to building a better relationship and improving the performance of the athlete.
Day 2, Alex Hutchinson: "The Curiously Elastic Limits of Endurance" and the author of "Endure" Alex was both humorous and engaging to listen to describing his own experiences together with the interviews with the various athletes, companies and scientists while writing his book. This took us someway to understanding the growth mindset and the limits we put on ourselves that get in the way of achieving those stretch, stretch goals!
The round tables were exactly 'what they say on the tin'. There were 12 round tables again depending on the reason you, as a coach, were there in attendance, was it business or coaching or a mix of both. They were 30mins in duration, hosted by knowledgeable people within their fields of expertise and you dropped in to whichever one you decided to do. To give you a flavour of the topic's : The Art of Coaching, Small Business Accounting Basics, Training Plans, Gut Dysfunction in Endurance Athletes, Run Training Analysis, The Role of Virtual Cycling in the Evolution of Coaching, Grow your Brand through Social Media and of course we had our very own Philip Hatzis hosting : Putting a Price on your Time.
The Applied Science Breakouts took place in the exercise physiology department of Colorado University, which is a state-of-the-art experience. However, it meant that yet again, decisions had to be made as there were 5 topics and only 4 could be attended across the two days.
The applied topics included: ‘Managing Energy Levels’, ‘Gait Analysis’, ‘The Science of the Bike Fit’, ‘Determining Training Zones’ and ‘Swim Stroke Analysis’. They were around an hour in duration with professionals in their areas of expertise. The main focus was on how to analyse, assess and implement what you are seeing and hearing from your athletes. Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS) came across very clearly: coach what you see and don't try to fundamentally change the movement pattens of the athlete, to move the athlete to something that you believe is the model way of moving. This could lead to injury, and frustration on both sides of the relationship: develop the athlete and leave your ego at the door!
Outside of the formal proceedings, there was time to mix and engage with other coaches, athletes and of course our hosts from Training Peaks, during the Welcome Event and Happy Hour. At these times you could forge relationships, develop new ones as 'Networking' is a big part of our business. You can always learn and hear new ways to coach, analyse the data and engage with others to understand the next big development to hopefully make our busy lives easier. It really was a week not to be forgotten.
There was also the cycling in the week leading up to the summit, where I certainly found my legs and my heart which seemed to be beating faster and louder than I've ever known. I haven't cycled at altitude before and now I know personally how this can affect you. The location and the scenery of the Flatirons was just simply amazing and will stay with me forever – although some of the climbs were tough enough without the altitude as well! My visit to Pearl Street Mall and the experience of watching an American College Football game at the university, talking with the locals in Starbucks, the local cycling shop or the local coffee shop that roast their own beans were all great experiences and I really want to come back soon.
This truly has been two weeks never to be forgotten: there were plenty of first time experiences and lasting friendships.
Until next time…