Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Junior Development Program

For those that don't know who I am let me tell you a little something about me.  I have raced bikes since I was 12 years old.  I started racing with my brother in Hawaii.  When we moved to Virginia Beach I was 17 years old and got on the Tidewater Bicycle Association Junior Team.  Their coach, Peter had just recently died.  Pam Zimmerman took on the responsibility of driving us around the country and mentoring us the best she could.  At the age of 19 I was pretty much done with the sport and took up weight lifting.  I became a firefighter in 1999 where I thought my weight training was being put to good use.  I did very little aerobic training at this time.  In 2002 I started breaking away from weight lifting and got into running.  Right off the bat I started running half and full marathons.  I simply had a goal of a sub 4-hour marathon.  For someone at 200+ pounds, this was a big accomplishment for me.  It took 5 attempts in a 2 year period to get my 3:54 marathon.  That was it for me.  I then decided to try my hand in triathlons.  One season of swimming, cycling and running, I fell in love with the bike again.  In 2006, at the age of 30 I started racing again.  I got my old junior team back together and we formed the Virginia Beach Wheelmen.

Before I became a firefighter I thought I wanted to be a doctor.  My first few years at Old Dominion University were spent majoring in Biology and minoring in Chemistry.  A drop in medical field desire and some other distractions like marriage and starting a career in the fire service saw my formal education start to suffer.  I changed degree programs to applied mathematics and then finally Exercise Science.  Once I settled on Exercise Science, I became focused and motivated.  I finally graduated with my Bachelor's Degree in 2009.  Also in 2009 I became certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist through NSCA and started training athletes at HybriFit in Virginia Beach.  In 2010 I got my Coaching License (Level III) from USAC and started coaching Junior racers in the area.

My career in the fire service has taught me one very important lesson:  Mentors Make the Difference.  If I look back at my life I see that I had some very good mentors.  My parents were extremely supportive as was my brother.  In cycling I seemed to have good mentors, but never a coach.  I never had a coach that truly evaluated my style, skills and abilities and focused training and racing towards me.  When I was weightlifting, my mentors and coaches were magazines and word of mouth quick gains from other people in the gym.  Never focused.  Running was the same way.  No coaches to get me on the right track.  In the fire service, many times your mentors are your coaches.  I had some very good "fire coaches" and that has shown in my very focused and thus far successful career.

Obviously I feel coaching at a young, or any age for that matter, is vital to success.  You can read, listen and ask all the questions you want from experts, but unless the plan is tailored for you, success won't come as easy.

I have started coaching junior racers in the area.  Unlike many coaches, I will take young athletes at the age they can first get their racing license, age 10.  I am currently working with two athletes of this age.  The most important aspect here is not a training plan, it is skill development, comfort on the bike and above all fun.  Most of the time a coach can get through to kids better than parents can.

For the older athletes one of my specialties is strength training.  Not just any strength training but functional, cycling specific strength gains.

I am really trying to build on this junior development program.  If you know of any junior racers who would be interested please send them my way.  The more juniors this program has (to a limit of course) the more fun and beneficial it will be for all.
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