On Being Coachable

It’s been instructive to have a triathlon coach for the past couple of seasons. I’ve said in the past that it’s smarter to learn from other people’s trial and error than rely solely on your own, and having a coach who can see my Garmin is wonderful for making me stay accountable to the training plan. Having a local coach who watches my workouts, whether it’s putting eyeballs underwater to critique my swim, riding slowly to assess my bike fit and pedal stroke, and hollering at me to start pedaling because “this is not social hour!” has been invaluable.


And while watching my husband coaching the kids preparing for the upcoming iFly tunnel competition,



(if you haven’t flown in one of these tunnels, open a new tab, and get yourself signed up for a beginner flight at the closest tunnel right now!!! Okay, carry on….)

and talking with one of the mothers of a couple of the kids, I started thinking: “What makes someone coachable?” I think of myself as a health coach for my patients, but being in the person-being-coached role is a changeup for an opinionated professional female (I’m pretty sure that’s redundant.). I asked my husband Chris, whose main work role is coaching and teaching things that the average person would consider rather alarming. His answer was “they want to be there.”

So I looked for more specifics, and found this excellent article:


To save you the trouble of clicking, here are the 5 traits:

1)Humility, realizing that you can’t do it on your own. My previous line about learning from other peoples’ experience is in the article, so when I started to read the article, I knew I was on the right track.

2)Action Bias, which seems redundant, given I’m getting coaching for a sport, which kind of assumes physical action. But it also means doing the assigned work, getting your tuckus out of bed in the morning and/or off to the evening runs after a tiring work day.

3)Purity of Purpose, which is actually kind of a hard one. Watching the kids, they clearly have different agendas. Some of them want, more than anything else, to get better, and they are the ones who get better. Other kids have more reasons for being there, which can be harder to work with. Some of them just want to have fun and play. Some of them want to win every single time. Some of them want to please their parents. Some of them are there because their parents think it’s a good idea. Jeff and I talk about goals every season, and he definitely questioned me about my goals and motives before we started working together last year. My goals are a little bit of everything, which I know makes me a challenge. I want to get better, I want to place every now and then, I want to enjoy it, I want to be able to do other things too.

4)Willingness to Surrender Control. This also requires that we surrender certainty. Which leads into the final trait,


It’s been a harder season this year; I was spoiled last year by a random gap in the competitiveness of my age group, so at most races, other than the Smithfield Sprint Tri, where I also got to see my tri sisters on their first podium, my “want to win” goal has been stymied.


But my “getting better” goal is clearly coming along, and I’m still enjoying the training, and still finding plenty of time for crossttraining (i.e. hiking, paddleboarding, wind tunnelling, tree climbing) and recovery (i.e. wine and beer and good food tasting, and the intermittent massage). So thank you to my coach, and here we go, into the final two weeks before my last big race of the season,


Please follow me on live tracking on race day, September 27th, starting at 8:58. My race number is 3044.


One comment

  1. So many spiritual lessons here too!

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