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I have been following a structured training programme from Stephen Gallagher for some years now. I have also availed of dietary advice from Barry Murray and attended a number of very useful seminars. I have done some sports testing with Physiologist Gary McKeegan as part of my package with Dig Deep Coaching. I regularly review my bike fit with Chris McCann. Mostly recently I have been working with sports psychologist Mike Garth.
As a 49 year old man, who continues to break Irish records and set PB’s, I feel the influence of this team cannot be understated in assisting me to achieve my goals. Firstly, Stephen gives me the confidence of a well thought out and planned approach to my training. Secondly, Chris takes the guess work out my position on the bike and allows me to pedal with optimal performance. Last but not least Mike has made me mentally strong to cope with dealing with the stresses and strains of racing even during events such as the extremely mentally demanding 100 mile time trial.
Stephen has been there, done that and got the ‘yellow’ jersey! I know I am in safe hands with Stephen and in addition to accessing his knowledge he has top class interpersonal skills so I can talk to him openly. He is one of the nicest guys you could possibly meet so being coached by Stephen is a more personal service than with other top professionals in this line of work. Stephen is also flexible around my time constraints and family commitments, which are substantial, as a school principal and father of two young children! He gives me quality sessions, excellent feedback on my files, insightful tips and support but most of all he offers me peace of mind that I am following a structured programme that I believe in. The results, two Irish vets records and a PB for 10 this season, are the proof of the pudding!
Chris is another extremely knowledgeable and personable guy to deal with. He never stops updating his expertise and is only too happy to pass it on to old boys like me! After a recent visit to the states to work with John Cobb, designer of the Adamo saddle and expert advisor on power out put, bike set up and aerodynamics to the pros (including Armstrong), Chris has turned my thinking ‘on its head’ with regard to my bike set up for testing. He takes a very considered approach and has all the high tech equipment to back up his decision making. Once again he takes the stress and guess work out of my bike set up so I can relax and do what I do best which is just riding my bike secure in the knowledge that I am in the optimal position possible.
Finally Mike is a top sports psychologist and cyclist too so I could relate to him straight away. He assisted me to overcome injury and illness to deliver on my race plan this season. I was ‘down and out’ after hurting my back the evening before the national vets TT championships this year and without Mike’s help I really do not think I would have made the start line for the 25 and 100 at the end of the season. He worked with me to equip me with the mental skills to overcome the adversity of first my back injury and then a chest infection. He gave me tangible ‘crutches’ to assist me in narrowing my focus and delivering on my race plan. After his initial assessment my entire programme was tailored to my personality type and bespoke to me personally. Through a series of Skype conversations, emails and texts Mike was brutally honest with me over a period of time which allowed me to shift my mental approach. They say it is hard to teach and old dog new tricks plus I thought I had sports psychology covered after some general input when I was on the Irish triathlon team but Mike brought me to a much higher level of consciousness about what worked for me. Once again it is the personal service that I believe has made all the difference to me.
I hope to continue to work with the professionals associated with Dig Deep Coaching to achieve some targets in time trial next season and perhaps something different for my 50th Birthday the following October? I want to try to go fast and hopefully achieve PB’s and break Irish records again next year if God spares me and the professionals at Dig deep Coaching can keep me on track! Long term, and I appreciate this is not particularly profound, but after racing for over 20 years in Triathlon and cycling I just hope to keep enjoying riding my bike for as long as I can and I wish anyone who has taken the time to read this the same enjoyment in their cycling.