The Difference Between a Good & Great Coach

When I think of successful coaches, I visualize sideline leaders who ooze charisma, bark orders, and demand excellence.

Vince Lombardi. Pete Carroll. Pat Riley (sorry, I'm a Lakers die-hard). Gene Hackman's character from "Hoosiers."

All these attributes point to one-way communication. A leader speaking or dictating to his/her followers. I was reminded this morning there's another quality that separates a great coach from a good one: A good listener.

I was feeling a little deflated after my morning spin at home proved to be deceptively difficult. I couldn't understand why 45 minutes of riding on my trainer in the big chain would be so much more sweat-inducing than when I'm actually cycling on the road. Besides literally spinning my wheels, was I metaphorically doing the same? Worse yet, was I regressing? Were the multiple two-a-day sessions catching up with me?

When I arrived into work, I already had an email waiting in my inbox from Coach Gerrardo. Not only was he reading my blog (thank goodness someone else is!), but he wrote to offer some perspective after reading last night's Into the Wild post. Gerrardo reminded me that we're primarily training for the LA Marathon right now and not to worry too much about Ironman for the moment. In other words, don't get lost in the forest amidst the trees (if you read the Into the Wild post, this is a particularly fitting analogy). He also mentioned it's OK to cut a few workouts short. It's more important to have fuel in the tank at the end while putting in a bit less work than hitting a wall but finishing the workout.

Gerrardo's words were exactly what I needed to hear. I felt refreshed and energized for my lunchtime lifting session (upper body: lats, chest, shoulders, abs).

Gerrardo's desire and ability to listen made a difference in my mental outlook -- which is vulnerable at these early stages of training. It also reinforced that I made the right decision choosing Valley Coach over some of the other reputable coaching options online and throughout the Southland.

Tomorrow, I plan to blog about another pair of coaches, Shannon and Shannan. Were it not for them, I wouldn't even be able to consider an Ironman. Before I do though, I've got an hour of running and 2,700 yards to swim.

I'm ready for it. Thanks to a great coach.

349 days and counting.