OPEN SERIES - WEEK 9: Why a Coach Is Key

First off, congratulations to all the athletes who, over the course of the weekend, completed 17.1. What a way to kick things off! Now we just have to get our backs to recover so we're locked and loaded for this coming Friday and a new challenge ;)

On Friday, some of you, for the first time, completed a workout with a "judge." Now, at Kingfield, our judges are really acting more as rep counters and "encouragers." In some cases, they are also coaches. If you were fortunate enough to have one of the Kingfield coaches as your judge, you likely got a little taste of what it's like to be coached through literally an entire workout. They may have paced you, monitored your rest/work, and kept you moving (even when you didn't really want to move). Today, I'm going to briefly discuss how this can be beneficial, as long as you, the athlete, keep an open mind and allow yourself to be coached.

In my opinion, I find that even having my reps counted helps me through a workout. If you had someone doing that for you on Friday, you likely had a bit of an advantage. It mentally allows you to focus on breaking down the work you have remaining or to just keep moving as opposed to counting. How many times have you lost track of reps in a workout and then end up doing extras because you don't want to cheat yourself? I know it's happened to me and I know what a relief it is to not have to think about counting.

Secondly, your judge can also break down sets for you. I know with many of the athletes I worked with on Friday, we broke things into sets of 5-10 reps. Mentally, this is more manageable than 40-50 reps. Four to five sets of 10 reps sounds a hell of a lot more doable than "You have 47 reps to go! Great work!" Also, when you're chunking work into sets, you will have rest time. I use this term loosely, because in the middle of a  workout "rest time" amounts merely to a couple big deep breaths without completing any required work. It's still going to burn when you get back to the movement but you likely bought yourself a little more oomph on your next set. The amount of rest depends largely on the athlete and can change as the workout goes on. A pretty standard rule of thumb to start out with is to rest about equal to what you work. As you get more tired, you'll find that this ratio will change but the closer you can keep it to 1:1 (or lower) the better when it comes to breaking up sets (It is a totally different animal when transitioning from one movement to another; more on that next week).

Third (I alluded a bit to this above) it's good to have a plan but sometimes our plans break down. How do you adjust? Do you get upset with yourself that you're not moving at the speed you wanted? What do you focus on? As a coach, I tend to work my athletes into smaller sets with slightly shorter rest. Just like counting to ten is easier than counting to forty, counting to five is easier than counting to ten. Sometimes, though, "strategy" has to be thrown out the window. Your only goal now becomes keep moving, and that is OKAY. 

Here's my challenge to you: this week, when the workout comes out on Thursday, sit back and think about it. You'll have strengths and weaknesses within the workout (albeit sometimes disproportionately one way or the other). Decide what you think is manageable. Then talk to a coach, present your thoughts and ask for their input. They've done this enough and coached you enough to know the best approach for you. Finally, talk to your judge. While you're warming up, tell your judge what you want and what your goals are for the workout. Do you prefer they just count? Do you want them to manage rest/work for you? Do you want them to help you out or just cheer you through? If they're not an experienced coach, tell them beforehand what signs you give that you're getting fatigued (aside from the obvious ones) and need to change course. This communication can make the workout that much more doable for you. And then, trust them. Trust that they are doing their best to keep you pointed towards your goals. If you do, all you will have to do is move. Don't think, just move.

And sometimes, that's the best approach we can have. Good luck this week! We're looking forward to it!

-Coach Caitlin