Coaching


Mirrors are amazing devices. In my physical training, my coach and I frequently use mirrors to adjust my body position. Yet, I use mirrors in a figurative way as well. A coach is like a mirror. When we can see ourselves through the eyes of a coach, change becomes possible and probable. In contrast, trying to be my own expert has been disastrous for me. Selecting someone who can help me along my path is very important. Such a guide needs to be a good fit. I have had several coaches in my life in speed skating as well as other endeavors and no there is doubt I will have more. This coaching idea can be applied to any part of my life, the principles are universal. I trust that each coach who has come along has been the right one at the right time for my learning process.
The coach-athlete relationship needs to embody a certain synchronicity. Everyone puts out a certain vibration, and I’ve learned that following my gut and being sensitive to that feeling when picking a coach is very important. This will help the relationship grow, flourish, and be good for both of us. That is the goal in a perfect world. The real world is very different, but we must continually strive to obtain what we need.
The first question to ask when considering coaching is, “Am I coach-able?” This will be a rudimentary question for some and a very difficult one for others. I have been at opposite ends of this spectrum in different parts of my life. As a youngster, I attended a few summer camps to learn about skating and training. I had a correspondence relationship with a couple of coaches. One was Dutch and one was Norwegian. We wrote letters that took weeks to deliver. By learning as much as I could, I became my own expert. Because I developed some hard and fast rules for my training, I became unshakable in most of my ideas and was not very coach-able at the time.
Years later as a masters skater, I realized I had a lot of knowledge and expertise. I had wisdom based on my life experiences and was an expert on many things, but there was still some blockage where coaching was concerned. I was not moving forward as well as I could, so I accepted that I could not see myself as well as a coach could. I was becoming open to new ideas about how to do things, and I was now ready to listen to a coach.
My current coach says that I am very coach-able. To me, this means I am willing to hear what she has to say and try it to the best of my ability. I no longer feel that I have to justify what I am doing, just try to do it differently. This attitude has taken a long time to adopt. My ability to do so is connected to my improved self-esteem. The better we feel about ourselves, the easier it is to change. That’s what being coach-able is all about.
The coach-athlete relationship is similar to a family relationship in many ways. In order for it to work well and flourish, it must be given the priority of just below family.
Proximity is important in any relationship. Long distances are possible in coach-athlete relationships, but they can be hard. There is no substitute for looking into someone’s eyes and seeing their body language to get the feedback that a coach needs to make adjustments. Having a coach who can be on the scene is the best arrangement. When you are willing to do the work of finding and fostering a coach-athlete relationship, the benefits outweigh the costs every time.
Communication between a coach and an athlete is the only way an athlete can make progress. In order for the communication to be effective, I must be absolutely honest with myself first, then with my coach. My career in aviation has helped me to see what effective communication can do. To pass on those lessons, I will explain what I know works for me in the coach-athlete relationship.
For effective communication to take place, people must follow some essential steps. First, the idea must be verbalized. This verbalization must be done in a constructive way. The next step is timing. The information must take place when the athlete is attentive. If my coach yells something at me when I am totally focused on my performance, hearing is impossible. As a dad and soccer coach, I remember never to shout anything to the boy with the ball during a game. Talking to the boys without the ball is more effective. In addition, if the athlete is alert and attentive, then he or she has a better chance of hearing what the coach is trying to get across.
Conversely, as an athlete, I need to pay attention to what my coach is trying to get across to me. There is no harm in saying, “ Sorry, I could not hear you, say again?” or “What did you say? I could not listen till now.”
But for true communication to take place, the people involved must have a meaningful exchange. As a coach, you want some insightful response back from your athlete. If my coach tries to convey a point of technique to me, then says “Do you understand?” and I respond with a yes or a nod, she has no way of telling whether any real ideas were exchanged. On the other hand, if I say something meaningful or insightful back or if I physically demonstrate understanding, my coach knows I absorbed her point.
To sum up, it is important to communicate clearly, honestly, and when the listener is available to really listen. Then make sure that something meaningful and insightful is the result of the exchange. Everyone communicates differently. It is up to me, as an athlete, to make sure that I effectively take in what my coach is trying to get across to me. It is in my interest to have a coach and my responsibility to make the relationship work.

Find and foster a coach-athlete relationship and the rewards will great!

Here is my coach giving me split times on the backstretch and encouragement!

Here is my coach giving me split times on the back-stretch and encouragement!

Cardiovascular Training


Anytime I move, my heart starts raising its rate to keep up with my workload. Virtually, all of my training has a cardiovascular component to it. A couple of times a week, I do some pure cardio work to train my heart and lungs.

When I am on the ice, I can consider it a strength and cardio workout. Even skating slow laps requires a great deal of strength, and my heart rate increases to a high level before long. I do two types of specific cardio work, mostly on a stationary bike sometimes on the ice or slideboard.

One type of workout is interval training. The other is extensive tempo. The difference is that interval training is of a higher intensity but with rest between the efforts. The extensive tempo training is doing something at a lower intensity but continuously for a longer time frame.

An example of an interval workout would be running 400 meters pretty hard so that you are breathing heavily at the end, then resting by jogging 200 meters, then repeating. This was the workout we did when I was in high school as a freshman running cross-country, and we repeated this cycle about 12 times or more in a workout. It takes about an hour to do this part of the workout.

An extensive tempo workout would be running for the same hour or longer but at a slower pace continuously. Both types of workouts have benefits for your heart and lungs. If you are not in very good condition you must remember to increase your volume and intensity very slowly!  Otherwise, you will get injured and have to stop or scale back your training.  Even if you are in great shape, increase slowly!

To get the full benefits of cardio training, you should use both methods each week. Many times, my coach schedules an extensive tempo bike workout in the evening after an intense morning workout on the ice to help flush out the byproducts that built up earlier. This way I get the benefit of the flush as well as the cardio training for my heart. Swimming is also a great non-weight-bearing exercise that can help with heart and lung capacity. I can do tempo, intervals, or recovery work by swimming.

Here is a video of the end of an interval workout on my stationary bike that I sent to my coach Nancy Swider-Peltz, Sr who was in Germany at the time.

24 Lessons From: “Faster As A Master”, Part Two


24 Lessons From: Faster As A Master Part Two

In my upcoming book “Faster As A Master” each chapter has a summarization of what I learned in the form of “Lessons:”

Here are the second twelve. Last week was the first twelve.

Each chapter has one or more stories, philosophies, and principles to illustrate my points. The statement of “Lessons:” is a summarization of what I have learned and apply to my journey of breaking down barriers and journeying toward wholeness.

Continued from last week…..

13. By enjoying the journey as well as the finish, I use goals as my vehicle forward to external and internal work toward wholeness.

14. Recognize and deal with the ego and emotions to your advantage.

15. Discipline to do bring my “A” game to everything I do, sets up the best outcomes.

16. Proper nutrition sets up the body and mind to do great work. Discipline with nutrition will pay great dividends internal and external.

17. Be coachable, find and foster a coach – athlete relationship.

18. Build the motor and learn how to apply it to your endeavor. Utilize the principles of, practice, warm-up, cool-down, volume, intensity, strength, cardio, periodization, stretching, mental training, and rest.

19. Prevention first, then apply RICE, learn from the event and move forward with changed expectations.

20. By continually reevaluating our plans and adapting we can uncover new ways to enjoy the journey and achieve our goals.

21. Competition can reveal our true selves providing growth and healing.

22. Balance is a great barometer for all parts of my life internal and external.

23. Honest mindful attention to my thinking will guide me through all of my internal and external activities toward wholeness.

24. Take the risk, keep moving with courage, practice gratitude for the journey toward wholeness.

Longs Peak Colrado

Longs Peak Colrado

24 Lessons From: Faster As A Master, Part One


24 Lessons From: Faster As A Master, Part One

In my upcoming book “Faster As A Master” each chapter has a summarization of what I learned in the form of “Lessons:”

Here are the first twelve. Next week I will publish the next twelve.

Each chapter has one or more stories, philosophies, and principles to illustrate my points. The statement of “Lessons:” is a summarization of what I have learned and apply to my journey of breaking down barriers and journeying toward wholeness.

1.  Keep moving, be mindful, and you will put yourself into positions that will be right for you.

2.  Core self esteem is built from within and is not based on performance but the effect of the     results on how we feel about ourselves.

3.  By taking small steps everyday we exercise courage to heal old wounds from within to become whole.

4.  We are not alone and have the benefit of many resources seen and unseen to help us past our barriers, internal and external.

5.  Ask for what you need to the universe, keep moving, and trust whatever comes your way is in your best interest.

6.  By breaking down barriers you can show yourself and the world that we are all more capable that we give ourselves credit.

7.  Keep moving in the direction of your goals, adjust as necessary to meet the present circumstances, accept what you cannot control, and trust you are on the right path.

8.  Define blocks to progress, figure out a way around them, set your goals, act, trust the path ahead.

9.  Getting better and going faster is more about intention and choices than age.

10.  Parental and Grandparent support comes in many forms and can be used throughout our lives.

11.  Our networks are wider than we know and can work in better ways than we can predict.

12.  Spousal support is extremely helpful and other support can come from almost anywhere I have spread good will.

Photo by Jerry Search

Photo by Jerry Search

Chinese Symbol for Courage

The Chinese Symbol for Courage

“Faster As A Master” Book Intro Part 1


“Faster As A Master”  Book Intro Part 1

My book is coming along nicely in the editing process.  My editor Ruth Hull Chatlien is providing some great training for me to be a better writer.

Here is the first of three installments for the Introduction.  Enjoy.

Stay tuned, there is more to come.  I am hoping to wrap up and start publishing in the next couple months.

Introduction

Qualifying for the U.S. Olympic long track speed skating trials for the upcoming Torino 2006 Olympics, at the age of 49, was going to be one of the hardest and most challenging things I have ever done in my life.  This challenge would push me to be at my best physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.  It would also be one of the most rewarding things I have ever done.  I would have to skate significantly faster than I did when I was a teenager on the U. S. National team from 1974 through 1976.   I would have to go faster than any man has gone at my age ever.

The drive to qualify started when I was a teenager on the U.S. National team in 1974.  My parents whose philosophy about raising three boys was to keep us tired by channeling our energy through the outlet of sports.  As a result, my two brothers and I all achieved a great deal.  I am the oldest, Bart is next by two years, Mike is the youngest following Bart by three years.  When i was about 14, it was evident that Bart better at his sport, gymnastics, than Mike and I were as speed skaters.  Asked by my parents to support Bart in his quest, and being a natural leader, I accepted the role.  I continued to strive for my own goals but the focus shifted for the family.  We all accepted responsibility for our roles but during this time I lost my voice.  This created a disconnect in me and a wound that would not heal, just scab over.

In my adult life I woke up to a 25 year marriage where I also lost my voice.  I poured all I had into building my career and a family life.  Athletic passion was diverted to my passion for flying and building a family life.  The energy I spent towards my marriage was wasted.  The death of my marriage and the subsequent struggle of my identity was frightening.  Who was I?  Who had I become?  Where did I want to go, do, and be?  All these essential questions were needing answers.  In due time I would be able to address them all, and be whole like never before.  Front and center, my skating was something tangible to work on, and distinct way out of my predicament.  Could speeding around a track become the metaphor for my life?  I had a vehicle for my path forward.   Bruce Conner Skating AP Picture

AP Photo, US Olympic Trials, December 2005, Salt Lake City, UT

Press Release For Upcoming Olympic Trials


For Immediate Release From Bart Conner 1984 Olympic Champion 12/15/2013

At age 57 United Airlines 747 Captain Bruce Conner Qualifies for his 4th US Olympic Trials in Long Track Speed Skating.  Bruce Conner hopes to inspires others.

He has qualified at age 19, 49, 53 and now at 57, the oldest competitor ever.

For the 4th time in his life, Bruce Conner has qualified to skate with the best in the sport. Narrowly missing the Olympic team in 1975 at age 19, he retired from the sport and pursued his other passion, flying.  Now at the top of his field as a United 747 Captain, he flies all over the world.  His other full time job is training to compete at an elite level of competition.

He is skating faster than ever, and able to maintain a very high level of training and competition for 9 seasons in a row.  He will be competing in the 500 meter race on December 28th, and the 1000 meter race on December 29th, in Salt Lake City.

Nancy Swider – Peltz, Sr, has been his coach for the last 3 seasons.  Nancy is a four time Olympian, 8 time competitor of the Olympic trials, and former world record holder.  She also trains other Olympians. She says, “Bruce’s technical skill on the ice are close to perfectly efficient and surpasses all expectations I (or anyone else) would have for a 57 year old.  It is this, and his training discipline, that has brought him to the level of qualifying for the Olympic trials with the young guys in “what the books would say” are distances most difficult as you get older.”

Bruce trains 3 to 4 times per week on an indoor 400 meter track at the Pettit National  Ice Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It is a 150 mile round trip journey from his home in Kildeer, Illinois.

Conner”s family has experienced sports success in the past.  Bruce’s younger brother Bart is a 1984 two time Olympic Gold medalist in gymnastics.  Bart is married to Olympic Champion Nadia Comenici.

“The Trials are my Olympics.  I know that my times will not be fast enough to make the US team.  I consider this accomplishment a victory lap for all Master Athletes.”

Bruce’s accomplishments are a testament to his philosophy which is.

“Let age enhance your dreams rather than define them.”

“Getting better and going faster is more about intention and choice than age.”

For more information on Bruce Conner you can check out his website

http://www.brucewconner.com

For more info contact: Bruce Conner 847-370-5405

Masters World Sprints, Salt Lake City, March 2013

Masters World Sprints, Salt Lake City, March 2013

Great Article in Airline Pilot Magazine!


Great article in Airline Pilot Magazine!  This is a magazine for the Professional Airline Pilot.  Here is a link to an artcle written by a staff writer John Perkinson told from the perspective of my profession.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  I am truly grateful for all the wonderful family and friends in my life.

Click on the following link or cut and paste to your browser.  When the magazine opens go to page 30-31, enjoy!

http://www.alpa.org/Publications/Air_Line_Pilot_December_2013/#?page=30

Captain Conner landing in January at O'hare Airport Chicago, IL after flight from Hong Kong, China

Captain Conner landing in January at O’hare Airport Chicago, IL after flight from Hong Kong, China