Since about December 31st, any conversation I've had with a fellow cyclist starts with one of these phrases:
"My training plan..."
"Nope, it's a rest day..."
"Nope, it's a weights day..."
"According to the race calendar..."
And the ever-poplular, "My coach said..."
Granted, I should probably hang out with a wider variety of people, but I always listen with rapt fascination thinking, "Wow. This person has a coach. This person must be so dedicated. I should stop hanging out with this person right now and find slower friends." Kidding. Mostly. Coaching and training plans have always been such an enigma to me. And after interviewing Coach Brian Friend, now I know why. I am NOT what he'd classify as a "coachable athlete". Read on to find out what category you fit into and where to go from there.
[303:]You grew up in Colorado and attended Western State, then went straight into the Marines. How did a former Marine get into bike racing and coaching?
Brian: I raced a little bit as a junior back in the mid 80’s. Team 7-11 was prominent and Greg LeMond had won the Tour de France, one day I realized that I never officially “quit” cycling just didn’t do it any more. After getting out of the Marines and living a sedentary lifestyle for several years I didn’t like the way my health was headed or the example I was giving my family. One morning in July I sat down to watch the Tour de France and the idea of racing came to the fore front. I whipped out my old bike and went for a ride, 14 miles. The first 7 miles were a slight down hill and I felt so fast and even though my knees were hitting my gut it was a blast, then I had to get back home. The return trip was entirely different and I almost had to walk my bike to get back home.
[303:] How long have you been a cyclist?
Brian: 11 years, and this is my 10th year racing.
[303:] How has your style of coaching changed over the years?
Brian: My coaching has changed from single minded performance based to overall lifestyle-based training. Meaning I look for ways to create a successful environment where the training and racing component work symbiotically with the athlete's overall life. For most of us, cycling is a hobby. If we treat it as if it is the only thing in our lives, this approach can lead to failure in multiple areas of life including on the bike. All of my athletes have jobs, families and other obligations. We need to find a way to balance everything and when we accomplish that, the results on the bike show up as well.
[303:] What does your ideal "coachable athlete" look like?
Brian: "Coachable" is the key word. I am looking for athletes with some cycling experience (ideally 2 or more years) that have a basic understanding that a structured training program is important to getting the most out of their cycling experience. Not all of my athletes race, many of them have turned to cycling for a specific reason and now want to take it to another level. They have identified a goal and that goal is what really drives them. I have some athletes that are working to complete their first century and others that are striving to become professional racers. Each rider has a specific goal in mind and I work individually with each athlete always moving toward attaining that specific goal.
[303:] What is unique about QuadZilla Coaching vs. other programs?
Brian: Perspective. My approach is not better or worse than others. There are so many great coaches to choose from. When I say "perspective" is what makes QuadZilla unique, I mean is that I have a background that is very similar to many of the riders that I work with. Many have come from sedentary lifestyles, most are very busy with family and business and most really want to accomplish something big. But I also understand that we will always need to work around limitations in order to create success. The best laid training program with the most disciplined athlete is still going to run across set-backs and in the real world it comes from all directions; like new jobs, injuries, lack of motivation, money, time and the fact that the Broncos are in the playoffs. You name it, life comes at us and in order to be successful we need to be able to be fluid and flexible.
[303:] What would be your top 3 recommendations to athletes who ARE looking for a coach--how do they find the perfect fit?
Brian: There are several questions you should be looking at and I've listed about 13 of them on my website. Here are my top three:
1) Do you need a coach and why?" Then interview your coach, make sure you understand the style of your prospective coach, understand the communication process and the systems. For instance, if you are a pure numbers person (and require a lot of technical data) you will need a coach that specializes in that area rather than being frustrated with a coach that uses data as a feedback marker. These are very different styles and it is important to understand that. You've got to interview your coach in the beginning and I think some of the most important questions to think about are.
2) Are you coachable? This is important to understand. I’ve seen athletes follow a coaching program until they see another athlete having success doing something different and then they spin off and start second-guessing their own program. This is a recipe for disaster and usually happens right after an early season group ride or a suffer-fest at Wadsworth worlds followed by a quick look at STRAVA. Coaches have athletes doing specific workouts as specific times based on defined goals and comparing yourself to someone else does not work. When I say "coachable", I'm asking can you give up control and have faith in the person you are hiring to help you achieve your goals? If this is hard for you to do, coaching may be a frustrating experience and a waste of money and time. Perhaps save your money and invest in some awesome equipment (like carbon fiber clincher wheels from C6 Cycling. ;)
3) How much customization do you need? Also very important consideration. For instance, I am a hands-on coach and customization is a key element to my athletes’ success. Because every one of my athletes has a bunch going on, we are poised for change. With weekly coaching calls we are constantly changing and reworking the schedule based on life events, fatigue indicators and general motivation. This may not be an important element for you and a different coaching style would be better suited.
[303:] Is there anything else you'd like us to know?
Brian: Last year Quadzilla sponsored a team participating in the Tour de Cure and with the help of several sponsors and some great riders we were able to raise just shy of $7,000. We will be participating again this year and expect to raise $20,000 to fight against diabetes.
*Does this sound appealing to you? Give Brian a call. Mention that you found him on 303Cycling.com and he'll give you 20% off any coaching package you choose. Bonus.