Coaching your spouse/significant other (part 2)

This article is the follow up to my wife, Dame Stephanie’s five part blog, “Can She Do As She’s Told”.
If you haven’t read her posts yet, please do. They provide great insight into the trials and tribulations that an athlete goes through during a training plan, as well as some great humor.

As a brief reminder, I agreed to write a 12-week training plan for Dame Stephanie, per her request. After a prep week, she did Full Frontal to establish baseline numbers. Part 1 from my side, was written when she was one-third of the way through the plan.

Now for part 2.
The real fun, for me, started when she did Half Monty and significantly improved her FTP and MAP. I was very excited for her. Her initial glee over the increases was slightly mitigated by the fact that her key workouts were going to be more intense. I knew she could complete them, but she wasn’t so sure. This was the time for encouragement and support, sarcasm had to take a chill pill, for the most part.

Over the last half of the plan, Dame Stephanie worked hard and succeeded in completing most of her workouts. During her midplan call with her coach (a conversation with me), she expressed that she was undergoing a significant amount of stress from work and home (not with me but canine related). I listened and asked her how she would like me to support her. After she rolled her eyes and indicated that I was treading a fine line, I told her the plan was a set of guardrails and if she wasn’t feeling like a hard workout or doing a ride to coincide with her strength training, that was ok. I assured her that if she stuck to doing 80-85% of the plan, it would work. I gave her permission to listen to her body and adjust workouts based on how she felt. Of course, if you read her stuff, you know she didn’t dial down any of the intensity. she just skipped some of the rides on her lifting days.

Last Sunday she came to the end of the plan. She told me to stay away from her until she was on the one- minute effort at the end. I tried to use my stealth skills acquired in my army days, but her radar nailed me, and she threatened to eviscerate me if I didn’t leave the room immediately. Over the course of 31+ years of marriage I’ve learned when to heed her warnings and this was a good time to use that acquired skill set. The Full Frontal test went very well for her. She buried herself in each part of the test and ended up exceeding her goals for MAY 2021. She beat her 8-month goals in 12 weeks. YES! I was struttin’ around saying, “If you just do what I tell you all the time, you’ll be golden”. Of course, she rolled her eyes, and said, “I think not”. It may have been a completely different phrase, but that’s what I heard.

So what did I learn?
I learned you can coach your spouse/significant other but as a coach you have to constantly remind yourself to listen and not just blurt out what you might say as a partner. Fortunately, I’ve had the opportunity to learn that lesson many times. Good coaching is a mixture of science and the art of communication. Being a positive support system for the improvement of your athlete, life partner or not, is paramount. We actually had a great time with this plan. She’s even asking me for advice on post plan workouts. Back to struttin’.


@Coach.Spencer.R and @DameSteph thanks to you both for sharing! I really enjoyed following this adventure.