Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Marika Teini tells about her coaches and how to be an effective coach for yourself

A new European champion in the Middle distance, excellent Finnish athlete Marika Teini tells about her previous coaches and her way to be an effective coach for herself.

Marika! Who were your personal coaches? What is the period of your cooperation?

Actually, after 2014 I haven't had a personal coach anymore. So I'm myself responsible for my training and usually, I make my training plans. However, I have some people helping me with my trainings and you could quite well call them coaches.

When I was a junior, Timo Torpo was my coach for many years and after that, my partner Olli-Markus Taivainen made me training programs, but because I get injured easily I decided it's better to make training plans by myself so it's easier to listen to my body.

Personal coaching is a continuum from rare meetings  and discussion different topics with runner (Scandinavian pattern) to design of detailed plans and total control of physical, technical, mental trainings and recovery program (Soviet/Russian pattern). What was your pattern of cooperation? Which aspects of trainings were under control from your coach?

My former personal coach Timo Torpo reads my training diary and keeps an eye on the total training load. I work with Jukka Keskisalo (former runner) with my running technique and he also gives me good advices both on single trainings and on training plans. An important support person for me is also our national team doctor Katja Mjösund, who knows a lot about training and recovering from sports injuries. We also discuss training often at home with Olli-Markus. In addition to that, we speak about both physical and orienteering training much with my clubmates and national team runners.

In brief words: What was the feedback system?

As I mentioned above, I have online training diary and sometimes Jukka watches my trainings. I also run regularly (once a month or so) a threshold test on a treadmill. And of course, I use plenty of time analyzing GPS-trackings from my trainings and competitions.

Qualification and communication are the basement of successful coaching. Can you tell about THREE most valuable skills of your personal coach? 

I've found different persons around me and they have different strengths. All in all three most valuable skills of my coaches are: 1) Understanding of the standards of top level orienteering nowadays (know-how), 2) Ability to give me honest and straight feedback. I don't like the embroidery of the facts. 3) Will to do everything always a bit better than before.

Did you use some other services related with coaching?

We have a sports psychologist with the national team and I check my nutrition every now and then with a dietarian.  For me the help from my physiotherapist and doctor is also really important.

What was financing source of personal coaching?

Well, for my support persons it's mainly volunteer activity but some of them also get some recompense from national team or Olympic committee.

So now you are a coach for yourself.  What is the source of your knowledge about sports training?

I've always been interested in coaching and already as a junior, I always wanted to know what's the purpose of each training I did and why my training program was like it was. I've taken part to several coaching courses by Finnish Orienteering Federation and also read many books on the topic (I'd say that I've read or at least flipped through most Finnish books of endurance training). Also, I've learned a lot from my previous coaches and other athletes and coaches I've got to talk with. And one important source of knowledge how my body reacts to different trainings is learning by trial and error.

Many athletes say that most tricky thing in coaching yourself is a motivation. When you have a coach then it is obligatory to follow some program/plans, to report about actual training (you can not just skip training session without sequences). Also, a coach can say some words that motivate you to do further hard sessions. Whats your secret with motivation? Do you have some tricks to help you during tough training (competition) periods and set up new ambitious goals?

I think I have very strong inner motivation. When I had a personal coach, it was really hard for me to skip or moderate a training (even if I was sick, tired or had some beginning injury)  because I wanted so much stick to the plan which my coach had carefully made.
Simply, I just want to do everything as well as possible. One thing that helps me through tougher training periods is also the knowledge that as I'm my own coach, I'm myself fully responsible for my trainings, which means that I don't have anyone else to "blame" if I'm not in a good shape when I should be.

Many thanks, Marika, for the interesting interview and good luck at World orienteering championships!

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