Working with a Personal Coach (by Peter Wrotek)
Damian Chlanda - Personal Cycling Coach
“Working with Peter was a great pleasure and big inspiration at the same time. It’s so hard to handle 4-5 workouts a week, family (2 kids and wife) and a full-time job!” – Damian Chlanda
Most amateur cyclists taking part in epic races such as “Mazovia MTB Marathon”, “Poland Bike Marathon” or “Kresowe Marathons”, met some athletes from the “Wysportowani Racing Team” on the podium. A lot of them were interested who was helping with the preparation of them for this season.
Anyone competing in epic MTB races like “Mazovia MTB Marathon”, “Poland Bike Marathon” or “Kresowe Marathons”, was sure to see riders from “Wysportowani Racing Team” on the podium this year. Many were interested to know who was coach of these riders. Piotr Wrotek shared with us an extensive opinion about the coach, who watches over the form of competitors. “From the cycling point of view, 2016 was for me one great scrubbing over the bottom. Work and strong family turbulence did not let me spend a lot of time riding. Meanwhile, the overall form was weak, my weight started to rise (I reached up to three-digit score (kg)), and the belly was growing, At the end of 2016, when I became a member of WRT, I got the opportunity to “try” working with Damian. I only risked my time, so I quickly called him. We started our cooperation in mid-January or so.
What were my concerns?
In my cycling life, it was my first experience working with a coach. First of all, I was afraid that I would not manage, because of the time that would have to be devoted. I don’t have much time due to my work and two young children. Additionally, I was afraid that the bar would be hung high from the start, which could quickly discourage me and the enthusiasm would cool down quickly. The third concern was that it may be necessary to invest in expensive equipment in order to be able to monitor work effectively during training and races. My fears quickly turned out to be groundless.
On my own initiative, I started with performance testing. I didn’t want to invest in a power meter from the start (I don’t have one still). The training was to be based on heart rate zones. Performance tests helped to precisely define the zones and gave an answer to the question, where to begin? The most important stage at the very beginning was to answer, what I actually want from this season. What is my goal? When it was clearly stated, all that was left was to give me into the hands of a coach and trust that he knows what he is doing.
What a time saver?
When it comes to time spent on training, I have the impression that I do not spend much more time on the bike than I did in previous years. However, the difference is that each time I go on a bike – it’s the same amount of time, but much more efficient. Now I know exactly what to do and how to do it.
Not equipment, but a head
With heart rate zone based training, you don’t need to invest the national average in power measurement or other accessories. I know that some people will want to discuss this, but in fact, a mobile phone and heart-rate monitor will be sufficed as a minimum. Therefore, expenses on equipment should not be an excuse.
Damian, from the very beginning, knew what type of clay he is dealing with. In fact, I did not have to explain or justify anything. It seems to me that this distinguishes good caregivers, mentors, and teachers, that without words they are able to show a kind of empathy and put themselves at least for a moment in the place of the athlete. My coach didn’t require any huge effort from me at the very beginning and it looked like a slow familiarization of the body with cyclical and regular training. The important thing about all of this was that I didn’t get only a plan. Along with a plan, I have received many explanations as to why we do something like this and not the other way. It is much easier to force yourself to make an effort when you know what the goal is and what sense it has.
Once one of my training colleagues told me that the worst thing about this “training” is that you basically lose a lot of pleasure in cycling. You stop cycling and start training. Luckily, in my case, this switching hasn’t taken place. It is known that if you train e.g. five days a week then the probability calculation itself will show that there will be better and worse days. In all of this, I gained absolute confidence in Damian when I understood that we were not pursuing the plan blindly. In all of this, the most important thing is my body. My body is not only about my legs but also about my head. In this cooperation, it quickly turned out that we care about both. We are not afraid to take a step backward (e.g. a week of vacation without the bike) just to restart the process and then take three steps forward. This does not mean that there is any permission for laziness. This means that everything is done sensibly and, above all, it is crafted for an athlete.
You will recognize them by their fruits
I could probably write a few more pages about the cooperation, but at the end of all this, there are still some competitions, numbers, indicators that say the most on whether the coach is good or not. Our main goal for 2017 is to bounce back from the bottom, patiently build the form while getting rid of the excess of unwanted fatty tissue. The main goal was to start in the Star of South stage race. The first control point was the start in the winter edition of Poland Bike in Kobyłka. Then this race was basically another training unit and I went without fully recovering. This was my choice, giving this competition a low priority. I was supposed to go for fun and to vent my head. Then, from the very beginning, a big “banana” appeared on my face, because I knew that it was just the beginning of the road, but something was starting to spark in my legs. Every subsequent competition, to which I do not go to very often, is another observation of progress. If sometimes it is difficult to mobilize oneself for training, then each competition start is a litmus test of the form, which gives a huge shot of motivation and joy from what I do. In addition, I gradually lose weight and the fat melts into more valuable tissues. Finally, a personal remark: that the most important factor in all of this is the trainer and his reliability. The coach sets directions, planning, but the way in which it will be carried out already lies only on our side. In cooperation with Damian, it is great that we’re in touch all the time. This is not an “online plan”. If I have any doubts on how I did my training or the coach has, then you can always discuss it with him and make possible corrections in the future.