Who are you, what is your main goal and why did you decide to have a coach?
I'm Hayley and I'm at my happiest when I'm being active. I love the outdoors and training triathlon. I'm from a swimming background, having swum competitively for Worcester until my early teens. My focus then switched to running, but an injury 4 years ago sent me back to the pool, after an 18-year hiatus. I'll never forget that first swim back and wondering how I ever managed to endure club sessions!
I started being coached by Ali about 20 months ago. I needed the help of someone who knew what they were doing! Someone with the knowledge and expertise to set the quality and diversity of sessions I need to be able to challenge myself. For me, it's not so much about 'goals’ in the racing sense, but more about how training benefits my mental and physical health. I need the consistency and routine of doing something active that's just for me each day
What do you value about the coaching that you that you didn’t have before - and how is it going so far?
Not having to work out which discipline and type of session I should be doing. It's one less stress knowing that my sessions are set for me. It means I can commit to each one properly, with the certainty that it's building towards a bigger picture in the correct way. I train smarter and with more conviction now than ever before
What was the most difficult thing to get used to when you started the coaching process - and how do you feel about it now?
Giving feedback on how my sessions have gone (admittedly, I still have work do to on this, sorry Ali!) In part, it's because I'm always rushing to get to work after I've trained. I just don't build the time in to write things down. I've found it a hard thing to do after years of answering to myself; I've never had to stop and think about how a session actually felt before
How does the coaching fit in with your lifestyle – and do you have a lot to balance in your life?
Ali balances my training with my lifestyle perfectly. He knows what time I have each day to commit to sessions, is flexible and can adapt the plan if the other things in life get a bit busy
What are the main things you have learnt in your time as a coached athlete with Ali?
That I can endure far more than I ever gave myself credit for. That it’s ok and perfectly normal to go through periods when you feel like you’re not performing at your best. That relinquishing control over what is on my training plan gives me more control over how I approach and execute each session
Do you feel like you have developed as an athlete since starting the coaching process, if so, how?
Absolutely! I feel more accountable for how I train because there’s someone else invested in me. I never question a session, or my ability to do it. I’ve been able to focus more on my swim technique because the method is simple, easy to remember and to keep in mind when I'm training alone. I'm not influenced by what other people are doing when I’m at the pool or out running – I do what I need to do!
Why did you choose Ali to be your coach and what do you think about him?
I met Ali at our local pool a few years ago. We got talking and it was like I’d known him for years. He's one my closest friends as well as my coach - even if it did take me well over a year to ask him if he’d coach me! I respect and trust him completely. He holds me to account and is very supportive. He pushes me but keeps the plan realistic at the same time. I love that training is to a perceived effort in the moment, rather than a load of numbers. Ali gets to know each of his athletes properly and he sets the right sessions for that individual. There is no generic 'off the shelf' plan; each of us gets exactly what we need to improve!