The start of the year has been a flurry of change and action for my team and me as we forge new relationships with sponsors and one another.
The timeline of this reshuffling and reorganisation has been of no coincidence. The first and most important priority for me, especially leaving a coaching relationship like the one I had with Brett Sutton, was to find someone else whom I could work with and who could suffer me.
The first time Brett and I parted ways, in 2010, was in very different circumstances. I had been suffering severe plantar fasciitis for 10 months and was fed up of being in pain and injured. Cortisone wasn’t going to work for me this time nor running through pain every other day.
Brett encouraged me to take a break from the grind for the fascia to heal but disagreed that I should go to anybody to massage or manipulate my foot. I knew we were past that point of damage that rest would heal – I needed therapy. In order not to disrespect my coach’s opinion and maintain honesty between two friends I resigned from Team TBB and left Brett’s instruction.
This time things were different. Our relationship was more respectful and more honest. My relationship with James was no longer a factor in the coaching relationship and we worked hard to maintain that compartmentalisation. Brett and I were on the end of an incredibly successful debut Ironman year. My memories of Frankfurt hinge around Brett’s support of my performance on the side-lines – shouting and instructing me manically as only he can. There were fewer arguments, more discussion and ultimately a better cohesion between us.
Brett was supportive and understanding of my mistakes in Hawaii. We didn’t fall out over coaching. I left for very different reasons.
When considering changing coaches there are a number of considerations to figure in. I concluded quite quickly that it was time to move away from the workhorse mentality of training and back into my former racehorse mentality of racing. It was an opportunity to embrace my talent whilst concentrating on different strategies of training and recovery from a new voice.
When I was a young triathlete I was once labelled as ‘uncoachable’. This is an utterly ridiculous statement and although I was aware of this at the time it still echoes in my ears. I think I am probably one of the easiest athletes to coach in the world. When a coach has my trust I will do anything as and when they instruct. It comes from my totalitarian swimming coaches and my (possibly Freudian) attraction to authoritative figures. It does however take a lot to gain my trust and respect and to a bad coach I would be pretty ‘uncoachable’. I was very worried I would never respect a coach as much as I did Brett; nobody seemed to be able to make as much sense as him. Nobody- bar one.
Team Member 1 - Siri Lindley
I knew Siri Lindley for two things:-her success in female coaching, unmatched in Iron Distance in recent years and that she is always super positive and supportive of her athletes whatever their achievement. Being of ‘glass half empty’ persuasion I wasn’t absolutely certain that I could handle the optimism and excitement Siri spins on every circumstance. I worried about it a lot.
A few glasses of wine allowed me to adequately express my reservations and negativity very honestly one night in Hawaii. We chatted and discussed and it came to light quite quickly that we are made from very similar moulds albeit at different stages of our personal development. I realised that it would be ridiculous to only surround myself with people who always have the same perspective as oneself and that different characters often succeed together because they bring different perspectives to the party and balance one another perfectly. Every Pooh needs a Piglet and every Eeyore, a Tigger.
As James says 'What would Pooh be without Eeyore?' :)
Siri wanted to coach me as much as I wanted her to. I felt appreciated and accepted immediately and found it very easy to begin our partnership honestly and openly from the outset.
I look forward to working with Siri in person from May when I will base in Boulder with Team Sirius for the summer preparation for Frankfurt, Mont Tremblant and Hawaii but at the moment we are setting down the foundation of principle and approach in our training, it is different and totally exciting.
Each day this week I will introduce my followers to another member of my team and what they bring to the table to accelerate my performance and career. None is more important than another in the whole picture. Siri and my team are truly leaving no stone unturned whilst I do what I do best - train and dream.