Wailani's is dedicating blog posts for the month of Discover December to focus on inspiring stories of fitness- so you can get excited about new alternatives to include in your New Year's resolutions. Before I kick off Discover December with a truly amazing athlete and triathlon coach, Anne-Marie Alderson, let me tell you a little about why she inspires me.
For anyone that knows me, I was training for a marathon before my first child was born and never thought I could do a triathlon because I don't own a bike-I've run into a parked car, ongoing traffic, and a fire hydrant- sad, but true. Thus starts my complete awe at anyone that excels at running, swimming and BIKING!
More importantly, I personally know Anne-Marie from the Tepper MBA program at Carnegie Mellon University. Despite a demanding degree program and career, Anne-Marie has formed her own coaching business; pursuing her passion for supporting healthy living while working full time - you know I'm going to get behind that. And, she recently had an amazing biking experience in Hawaii on a cycling touring vacation - what's not to love?! The best part is that Anne-Marie is equipped to help you achieve your training goals no matter what your location or experience level!
Alderson Endurance and Wellness - Triathlon Training
I entered the world of triathlon in 2007 when friends I met through a local running club thought it would be fun to enter a triathlon together. I was a bit intimidated by my new road bike with its ultra-skinny tires and seemingly endless combinations of gears, and the prospect of a 1.5km swim in the Schuykill River in Philadelphia was downright frightening, but I gathered my courage and dove head first into the world of triathlon.
I quickly became addicted to triathlon. My first season involved a lot of trial and error - triathlon wasn’t as popular in 2007 as it has become today, so there was a lot of improvising: how to train, what kind of gear to use, what to eat while training. Some of these learning experiences were frustrating, but what I didn’t realize was how useful this information would be in the future!
As I become more serious about racing triathlon, I started working with a local coach. This was extremely beneficial for me, as it took the guesswork out of how I should train. I felt confident that I was doing quality workouts serving a purpose, and not simply “junk miles”. My passion for swimming, cycling, and running was something I loved to share with others; I could literally talk for hours if someone asked me a simple question about how to prepare for their first triathlon. Sometime in 2011, I started to consider becoming certified to coach triathlon myself.
In the spring of 2013, I obtained my triathlon coaching certification from the International Triathlon Coaching Association (a division of the National Exercise Science Trainers Association) and formed my own business, Alderson Endurance and Wellness. Due to having a full-time job at a Pittsburgh biopharmaceutical company, rather than develop my own brand at the present time, I chose to work as an Associate Coach with the already-established Pittsburgh-based endurance sports coaching company, Steel City Endurance. This has been a beneficial arrangement for me because not only does it provide name recognition for attracting clients, but it has also has allowed me to learn from the other coaches: we share interesting training articles and workout ideas, ask each other questions when we’re uncertain how to handle something, and bounce new ideas off one another.
Triathlon coaching entails developing customized training plans for clients that are tailored to their goals and their individual level of fitness. Being a triathlon coach is different than being a personal trainer in that I am not present for the clients’ workouts. The majority of my interaction with clients is via web, email, and phone. Thanks to technology, I can provide the same level of coaching to clients whether they are here in Pittsburgh or in Florida.
When I start working with a new client, I create a high-level training plan to designate the different phases of training for the year (early season preparation, endurance base development, build, or peak) and then develop specific, detailed workouts in increments of 1-2 weeks as time progresses (this allows for tweaks to the training plans as needed). For assigning workouts and receiving feedback, I utilize a web-based service called Training Peaks. Training Peaks allows the client to log in to an account I create for them and view their assigned workouts. They can then record comments about how they felt during the workout, outcomes of the workout after completion (such as average pace or interval splits), and even attach a file from a GPS device or heart rate monitor if they have such a device. I check the post-workout comments and data after they have been added, which allows me to see how the client responded to a workout and how I should structure future workouts. This also gives me the opportunity to provide encouragement, feedback on the workout, or suggestions for the future.
My favorite part of coaching is interacting with clients and providing advice on things like choosing a race, racing strategy, gear suggestions, and nutrition. Coaching is one of the most rewarding things I’ve done in my life so far. I love being able to share my passion for fitness and health and help others find the same passion. I find inspiration in watching my clients grow and improve – not only in terms of gaining fitness and being faster, but doing things like overcoming anxieties about swimming in open water. In the future, I hope to gain additional certifications to further expand the coaching services I can offer.