Post-Season Review: Coach Edition

At the end of a season, it’s helpful to look back and evaluate how the previous season went through a variety of different lenses. Before setting new goals and moving forward, a comprehensive season review will help you set more appropriate, intentional goals. We (the coaches) review our own race seasons as we try to continue to improve as athletes, and we also review our seasons from a coaching perspective. As our sport and our athletes continue to grow and develop, it’s important for us to upgrade our knowledge, evaluate our success, acknowledge areas for improvement, and expand our perspectives. Below, you’ll find our answers to a few of the reflective questions that drive our continued quest to be the best coaches we can be, for you.

Coach Julie:

What is one thing you’ve learned about yourself through a coaching experience this year?  

I am happiest racing alongside my athletes.  Watching and supporting my athletes while racing is very important to me, but having the opportunity to pre-race and then race alongside them is so fulfilling.  The idea of being in the trenches together stokes my fire. 

How did your 2021 racing experience/s inform your coaching practices?  

Every time I race, I learn something!  I write a detailed race recap that includes the highs, lows, logistics, the wish list, the destination’s pros and cons, and the race itself.  The exercise helps me guide athletes in the future.  Every race is not for every athlete, so the more experience I have on the racecourse, the more I can assist.   The mental takeaways from the race are important in my coaching; I use my experiences when working with athletes.  When something works well on race day, I note that I will share with my athletes. 

Name a book you read or something you learned that has influenced your coaching practices this year.   

Investing in the Menopause for Athletes Course has given me invaluable insight into both men’s and women’s aging bodies.  I have applied so much of what I learned to my over 50 athletes.   This is an area I seed continued education with the goal of slowing the effect of aging on racing, reducing injury, and maintain muscle mass.  While the course focused on women, the connections have given me insight and knowledge on the effects of men over 55.  

Name an area of improvement for next year.   

Working with my athletes on their internal dialogue, helping each to understand how this affects training, racing, and day-to-day life.


How do you measure or interpret your success as a coach? Based on that measurement, how successful of a coaching season did you have in 2021?

For me, this mostly comes down to: “happy athlete = happy coach.” Triathlon is a journey more than it is a destination, and if my athletes enjoy the process, feel like they are growing and succeeding and are supported along the way, and can see their ‘wins’ both in training and on the race course, even when they’re less obvious than goal times and PRs, then they’re happy – and I’m happy. 

What is one thing you’ve learned about yourself through a coaching experience this year?

I think every time I’m on a race course, regardless of the experience, it helps me as a coach. Having a year off of racing due to covid reminded me how easy it is to forget the details of the race experience and how many of my race-week conversations draw on my recent race experiences, whatever they were. Being on a race course is such a visceral experience, and so much of my ability to relate to my athletes comes from experiencing those courses in just the same way that they do.

Name a book you read or something you learned that has influenced your coaching practices this year. 

In the fall/winter of 2020, I ran a training “experiment” with one of my athletes (you know who you are!) to test out the HIIT-emphasis that Dr Stacy Sims recommends in her book “Roar” for peri-menopausal, menopausal, and post-menopausal athletes. The 10-week training block looked really different from our usual training, and it produced some really fantastic progress for both bike and run. So for 2021, I incorporated those specifically designed HIIT workouts for most of my 45+ women to make sure that we routinely stimulate muscular strength and power development in training.

Name an area of improvement for next year. 

I have a number of athletes who are using HRV and continuous heart rate monitoring devices to better understand their training recovery and readiness status. I’m excited to dive into this world and get some personal experience with it. My hope is that I can then work with my athletes to incorporate and respond to their device’s feedback and in doing so help them be even smarter with their training hours.


How do you measure or interpret your success as a coach? Based on that measurement, how successful of a coaching season did you have in 2021?

One of the ways I measure my success is by the extent to which I’ve empowered my athletes to take ownership of their own journeys. I see my role as a teammate, a support system, and as a source of knowledge and encouragement, but this is not about me. During the race – in the middle of the darkness – I know I’ve done my job when my athletes are able to call upon the resources within themselves to respond to difficulty, make appropriate adjustments, and persevere. Hearing their stories about how they overcame obstacles in a way that they never have before makes me feel like I’ve had a successful coaching season.  

What is one thing you’ve learned about yourself through a coaching experience this year?

I seem to be always learning that I can do a better job modeling my own advice. As I was preparing for Ironman California (a flat course), I started replaying my old stories about how I’m comparatively slower than other athletes on the flats, due to my size. One of my athletes asked me a version of the question that I often ask them: “How will you change your language about how well you race flat courses?” 

I felt proud that my athletes know that how you speak to yourself creates your reality and that they know it well enough to recognize it and call it out when language is creating a block.  And I was also grateful to be held accountable and given an opportunity to step up and practice what I preach. Unfortunately, Ironman California was canceled so I didn’t have an opportunity to embody my new fast-on-flat-courses self, but I’ve officially retired my old story and I’ll be ready to go when the next flat race presents itself. 

How did your 2021 racing experiences inform your coaching practices?

Every time I go through something challenging, it better enables me to support my athletes through their unforeseen challenges. 

The way this season ended for me leaves me with a lot of emptiness. I realized that I only truly feel fulfilled when I’ve had an experience where I’ve completely emptied my tank. In Ironman Coeur d’Alene, I did what I could in the (101 degree) heat but not being able to hit the speed that I trained for, my body wasn’t taxed the way it would be if the conditions allowed me to go just a little bit harder. Then Kona was canceled. Then IMCA was canceled.

I feel off heading into my off-season. Something is missing. I know that this experience will help me relate to my athletes who have to end their seasons on the wrong note or have to deal with an injury or something that leaves them feeling empty. It’s unsettling. I’m still trying to give myself space to have the freedom of an off-season but I can’t help but find myself wanting to fill this void. I want to stay close to my race weight, I want to keep my fitness pointlessly high, I want to continue numbing my feelings with exercise. I know that I preach about how important rest and recovery are, and I also know that sometimes it’s hard to convince yourself that you deserve it.

Name a book you read or something you learned that has influenced your coaching practices moving forward.

I am constantly reading books on a variety of topics, but this year I went down a rabbit hold of researching and learning as much as I could about the concept of flow and how that relates to endurance. A flow state can be described as an experience of complete immersion in an activity, where we are so involved in what we’re doing that nothing else seems to matter. The experience itself is so enjoyable that people will do it at great cost, just for the sake of doing it. 

Because of the tremendous boosts in productivity, creativity, decision making, motivation, and endurance that come from flow states, I’ve been interested in learning how to create the right conditions for flow to arise for my athletes. 

Here are some of the books I’ve read on the topic:

  • Flow: Living At The Peak of Your Abilities by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi Ph.D.
  • Mapping Cloud Nine: Neuroscience, Flow, and the Upper Possibility Space of Human Experience by Steven Kotler
  • The Art of Impossible: A Peak Performance Primer by Steven Kotler
  • Living in Flow: The Science of Synchronicity and How Your Choices Shape Your World by Sky Nelson-Isaacs 
  • Leap to Wholeness: How the World Is Programmed to Help Us Grow, Heal, and Adapt by Sky Nelson-Isaacs

(The books by Sky Nelson-Isaacs are my favorite.)

Name an area of improvement for next year. 

I am always trying to get better at balancing how much to push my athletes and how much freedom to give them to own their own triathlon journeys. It’s easy to find this balance when athletes are in alignment with their goals – meaning their goals are personally meaningful and they fit within the context of their lives. It’s difficult when the alignment is off – meaning their goals require habits that are not present, their goals are not motivating enough to create momentum, or the reality of what it will take to achieve their goals simply doesn’t fit into their lives. 

If my job turns into simply trying to motivate my athletes to get the work done, then I’ve failed somewhere along the way. Moving forward, I want to level up the way that I help my athletes navigate the dedicated pursuit of their goals with the freedom to make adjustments as they change and grow as humans. Letting go of a goal that no longer inspires you is not failure. Creating space for your moment-to-moment growth to inform your long-term aspirations is how we keep the fire burning.

NYX Endurance

Our mission is to develop an endurance community that empowers each member towards both individual and collective potential. At NYX Endurance, we believe in the relentless pursuit of better. We believe there is no success without suffering. There is no progress without perseverance. There is no light without darkness. #embracethedarkness