Be smart when asking for help

Health & Fitness column

Photo by Vicki Harris

Photo by Vicki Harris

Since I became an avid cyclist and road racer in 2008, I’ve been very fortunate to have a wealth of cycling knowledge and experience at my fingertips. My husband and racing partner, Kent Wheeler, has been racing a bike for almost 20 years. He’s raced for numerous teams, including the U.S. Armed Forces while serving in the military, and he is also a USA Cycling Level 2 Coach. One of my local teammates, Ray Fararo, has been riding and racing bikes for almost 30 years. I could name several others as there is a lot of cycling knowledge in Albany ... more than most people realize.

I ride with these guys every week, and they are always willing to help me grow on the bike. Kent is at all of my races. We talk before every race, and he offers advice on race tactics and how I should approach each event. His insight has always been helpful, but he coaches from a guy’s perspective.

Women’s bike racing is different from men’s bike racing. The women have smaller fields. We usually know each of our competitors by name. We often know the teams, their strengths and their weaknesses. We just ride differently.

I decided to take my training to another level last year. Although my husband is a cycling coach, I knew that I needed to look into getting someone else to coach me. Let’s be honest, how well is someone going to listen to their significant other? Let me explain how well it worked when he tried to coach me in the past. Kent would plan a really hard workout for me on the bike; I would tell him to go take a hike and ride however I wanted to.

I started looking for a coach. I wanted someone with racing experience. I wanted someone that was easy to talk to who could help me balance my love for the gym with my time on the bike. And, I also wanted a female. Why? Men don’t understand the struggles that athletic women have with their bodies, diet and training. I found my coach in Tina Pic.

Tina Pic ranks among the most decorated female cyclists in North America. In 15 years of competitive cycling, she won six national championship titles (a record matched by only one male rider), five USA Cycling NRC Championship titles, two gold medals at the Pan American Road Race Championships and represented the U.S. at six World Championships.

She won the 1995 Collegiate National Championship riding for the University of Georgia. Go Dawgs! She began racing at a professional level in 1996. She currently directs and rides for Team Colavita. This woman knows how to race a bike.

I knew I had made the right decision in hiring Tina as a coach from the first email exchange that we had.

I could talk to her like I talk to my close friends. I’ve had some health issues over the past year and, ironically, she was dealing with some of the same problems. We clicked right from the start and my training did too.

Tina coached me for six months. She got me through the winter training months and helped me improve my strength and power on the bike. She had me doing cadence drills, intervals, sprints, long rides, leg workouts in the gym, core work ... and she structured all of the workouts to fit my needs. I am riding strong. I feel good in races. And I have Tina to thank.

Where am I going with this? I think everyone can benefit from the help of a coach or trainer at some point in time. Not everyone needs the help of a professional cyclist. Do you want to get a little stronger in the gym ... lose weight ... improve your 5k time ... finish your first Ironman? Maybe you just need someone to hold you accountable. ... Or are you a seasoned athlete that needs some fresh ideas? None of us know everything and we can always improve ourselves.

Before you decide to hire someone, do your homework! How long have they been coaching/training? Are they certified? Do they tailor their training plans to you or are you going to receive a “canned” program that all of their clients use? How much do they charge? Are they punctual?

Don’t be afraid to ask for references. I talked to one of my cycling buddies in Atlanta who hired Tina several years ago before I contacted her.

And, be honest when talking to your trainer or coach about your goals, your budget, your likes and dislikes. These are the things that they need to know. I was very upfront with Tina from the first time I ever talked to her. I told her that I wouldn’t give up lifting weights in the gym and that I only planned on using her for six-nine months.

If you think you need some help, then start looking for a coach or trainer today. Take your time. Be smart about your choice. The person that you choose to work with will become an everyday part of your life for a while. Make sure that the person you work with is focused on helping you make improvements ...not glorifying himself. That’s how it is supposed to be. Good luck.

On a different note, I’d like to take this opportunity to say Happy Mother’s Day to my Mama and my boys’ Meme, Debbie Moulton. We love you. Enjoy your day.

Michele Moulton has been a fitness instructor for more than 23 years and is a certified group fitness, boot camp and Spinning instructor. She is a Category 1 cyclist and the PCP Race Team Director. She is also a state auditor and a mother of two boys, Austin and Harrison.