What Do Following Jesus & Training for an Ironman Have in Common? Part 5: Trust Your Coach

In this series’ two previous blogs, I offered a sort of introduction, written in red, to explain how this blog series started and its objective. From this blog forward, instead of putting this introduction at the beginning, I have tacked it onto the end. If you are new to the series, please take a moment to scroll down and read the brief introduction written in red.

Part 5: Trust Your Coach

This blog is dedicated to our friend and IMFL coach, Allison Blythe. Additionally, to my absolute delight, my husband, Claude, helped write this blog, since the lessons gleaned in this one proved to be the most profound for him.

As I mentioned in the previous blog, after hurdling the first dozen or so, “Oh my gosh! What have I done?” an athlete must decide on a training plan. Googling Ironman Training Plan reveals countless options from a wide range of sources. Which one should we use? Which one will get us to the finish line? Who wrote this plan, and what are their credentials? Etc. In the end, we decided to turn NOT to published books or pricey plans but to a friend, Allison, who has successfully completed numerous Ironman in the top tier of her age group. However, to us, more important than our friend’s athletic prowess and accomplishments, is her friendship. Allison knows us – including our individual physical strengths and weaknesses and our concerns and fears going into the race. Furthermore, Allison loves us, and she wants the absolute best for us, i.e. in this case, to have an incredible first Ironman experience, which has absolutely nothing to do with a finishing time. So, Allison created a plan; Claude and I followed it like our lives depended on it.

Now, everything I just said about our dear friend and coach, Allison, is absolutely true. She’s great. She’s qualified and competent. She loves us. We love her. But, some of the “counter-intuitive” aspects of an endurance training plan mentioned in Part 4, started playing with our minds. Claude had a particularly hard time with this, and his doubts badgered him like a restless child repeatedly asking, “Are we there, yet?” In turn, Claude pestered Allison, via text, constantly!

  •      Shouldn’t I be biking more this weekend? Thirty miles is not enough.
  •      I’m not sure I should take a rest day.
  •      It seems like I need to run longer off the bike.
  •      I know I strained my calf, and you said “Don’t run!” But, I think I should, at least, go for a little run.
  •      Shouldn’t I do one more 100-mile bike ride? Are you sure six was enough?
  •      I can’t go that long between runs; I need to run more.
  •      I know we are tapering, but I’m going to loose my fitness before the race. 

In between texting Allison, Claude drove me crazy with his questions and doubts and second-guessing. He read this training article, then that training article, and he offered me a summary of each. “That article suggests doing an eight-hour bike ride, and this article purports long runs after longs bikes.” The closer we got to IMFL, the worse it got!

I remember the moment the light bulb went on for Claude. He was sitting in his favorite living room chair a few weeks before IMFL. “Doing what?” You ask. Why, texting Allison, of course! We were in full taper mode. (Taper – the two to three weeks just prior to the event when workout distances drastically decrease in order to allow your body time to rest and repair itself before the big day.) Claude kept trying to build his case for adding in a few longer workouts. Allison usually responded, “No. Rest, please.” Finally, the revelatory response from Allison came.


There it was. In black and white. The heart of the matter. Claude and I found ourselves navigating uncharted waters. All we had was a map, our training plan. A plan Allison promised would bring us safely ashore. In Claude’s attempts to quiet his doubt, he thrashed about, grasping for something, anything, to control. But with Allison’s imperative, TRUST ME! She threw out the life-line that could quiet the storm. Yes, Allison can be trusted, and she knows what she is doing. Not only that, we are friends, invested in one another’s lives. Who better to trust than someone who not only knows the way home but also actually cares if we make it there?

No doubt you see where this is going. How trusting your coach translates into trusting God. The truth is, life is one big race. We really don’t know what the next minute will bring or where the wind will blow us. But God knows the way. And He’s provided a map, one that He promises will bring us safely into His Presence. Not only that, God loves us. He invested with the blood of His son to prove it. So, train on, trusting The Coach!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path.
Proverbs 3:5-6

Hello. My name is Monica, and I’m addicted to endurance sporting events. Early in my life it became apparent that I was not the fastest kid on the block, but I possessed the desire, drive, and discipline to go further. I completed my first marathon in my late twenties, and with that came my first endurance-sport-training-object-lesson on following Jesus. Since then, I literally expect spiritual lessons to be birthed throughout whatever physical challenge I undertake. My current endeavor? An Ironman – a triathlon comprised of a 2.4 mile swim immediately followed by a 112 mile bike and then 26.2 mile run – to be completed within 17 hours on 11/1/14 in Panama City Beach, Florida. Training for Ironman Florida (IMFL) has literally been a yearlong process, and I have been journaling all along the way. As the final countdown to IMFL nears, I will be reflecting on the journey, turning some of my journal entries into blogs to share with you. My prayer is that what Jesus has lovingly taught and shown me through the highs and lows of this journey might become life-giving Truth to you, too.