This month, we profile Art Fresquez. He’s the founder of Wild Hare Triathlon Coaching and is a UESCA Running Coach, USAT Triathlon Coach and ASCA Swim Coach. Art has a unique coaching model and one that is applicable to all athletes – regardless of the sport.
We at UESCA took a lot from Art’s Q & A and we’re sure that you will to!
What got you into coaching?
After a few years of competing in triathlon, I felt I needed to give back some of my time and efforts. Volunteers truly make the races possible and I felt it was time I did my part. As such, I volunteered to be in a kayak during a 1/2 distance triathlon as race support. During this particular race, we were forced to pull a competitor out of the race because he missed the time cutoffs and it was apparent he was struggling with his swim. As a person with a swimming and running background, I felt that I could have helped him achieve his goal and I thought what a pity it was to spend all that money on a race and not be able to complete it. It was then that I decided I would get all the pertinent certifications and create a client-focused business built on the basis that their goals are my goals. Wild Hare Triathlon Coaching, LLC does not market itself towards the athlete looking to podium hunt. Rather, I focus my efforts on the underserved market of those who simply want to achieve goals they once thought impossible.
Based on your coaching history, what are some common mistakes you see athletes doing in their training?
The tendency to go too hard, too often. The toughest headwind in coaching seems to be convincing an athlete that going as fast as they can all the time is not a good strategy for success. But, if you can get them through that initial shock of going slower sometimes, they start to see the method and why/how it will be successful. I accomplish this by explaining each workouts purpose and why it is in the plan. I invite questions as I want the coaching experience to be more of a dialogue than me telling a client what to do.
The other common mistake I see during the trust-building phase of the client/coach relationship is that clients tend to have many well-intentioned voices giving conflicting advice. What works for one person will not necessarily work for another and that comes back to building the client/coach trust relationship.
What traits do you feel are most important for coaches to have?
– Willingness to admit they may not be the best fit for a particular athlete. Not all coach/client relationships are a good fit. A good coach recognizes that and is willing to help the athlete find the right one if it is not him/her.
– Flexibility. A good coach must be willing to adapt their plan to fit the client’s need, not their own.
– Continuous learning. A good coach should be willing to continuously study and learn their discipline. Education does not stop at a certification
– Honest. A good coach needs to be willing to have the easy and tough conversations with their clients in an honest and appropriate fashion.
How important is your personal triathlon/running experience to your coaching practice?
Very important. I race in many types of events and distances and have seen much. Moreover, I have experienced failure and success. That is very important because when I speak with a client, they need to know that this isn’t just theoretical for me. Many times, I have experienced what they are going through and know how to change course to avoid poor outcomes. For example, I have personally been overtrained. I know the signs and symptoms because I experienced them – it is not just something I read about. I know what it is like to not be able to get myself from the bedroom to the living room because I was so exhausted. I know what it feels like for the six months it took me to recover with all the second-guessing and fear. And, it is because I experienced this that I do my best everyday to ensure that others avoid what I went through. On the flip side of that, I know what it feels like to go through personal hell and finally achieve your goals. Never give up! You and you alone are responsible for making it to your goals and you and you alone bear the responsibility if you choose to quit along the way. But, that being said, getting help along the way is always a smart idea.
Additionally, when I race, I wear my company branded kit, which means I need to conduct myself in a fashion worthy of the brand. Every time I put on that jersey I need to be cognizant that I am representing more than just myself and people are watching. Who do people see when they see a Wild Hare Triathlon Coaching kit? That is what I always need to ask and be accountable to.
Which you do you prefer – working with beginners or seasoned athletes and why?
As mentioned above, I prefer to work with beginners. They tend to be the forgotten ones by coaches which is sad because if you capture their attention, you help to grow the sport and make someone’s life better for it. Seasoned athletes generally are already motivated and may just need some different structure or small changes. Helping an athlete from the ground up and watching them succeed whatever their goal may be makes it all worth it.
Lastly, swim – bike – run… which is your favorite?
Depends on the year. The run has definitely been the biggest challenge for me last year. But my favorite has got to be the swim. In the open-water, it is much harder to hide your faults. It is said you cannot win a race in the swim, but brother, you can certainly lose it! There are many programs that do not emphasize a sound swim base because it is such a small percentage of the overall race. In my opinion, that logic is faulty. If you are not comfortable in the water, you will burn much more energy than you should which will become amplified during the bike and run. Think of your average, “I am afraid of open water” triathlete. They spend so much worry and energy putting that first toe in the wate, just wishing it was done. But if they train at it, they can learn to relax a bit more which optimizes their stroke, saves time, and makes the whole experience more enjoyable. Yes, the swim is most definitely my favorite.