Athlete News

Athletic Mentors’ Soccer Stars Kick It Up at College

February 6th, 2015 by Athletic Mentors

Maggie Harma goalkeeping for the Wayne State College Wildcats.

It’s no secret that high-level training, proper conditioning, and resilience will contribute to the creation of an above-average athlete. Three local soccer players made that commitment years ago when they began training with Athletic Mentors. Besides having strong dedication to their sport in common, Maggie Harma, Carley Rice, and Kendra Sosnoski are all Gull Lake High School graduates and now collegiate athletes. Kudos to our trio of alumni!

In the first of this inspiring series, allow us to introduce you to Maggie Harma.

Up Close and Personal with Maggie Harma

Harma began her career as a goalkeeper at 10–years-old and joined AM her sophomore year of high school. Her career at Gull Lake High School was comprised of 53 shutouts, a 93.7 save percentage, and two MHSAA state titles. Harma was confident that she wanted to play soccer in college, so she took every opportunity possible to improve at AM.

“My coaches at school kept me technically skilled, but once I started training with Athletic Mentors, I feel like I became a better, stronger, faster player,” she said. Having already learned collegiate lifts and participating in conditioning routines, Harma was ahead of most freshman and physically ready to take on Division II athletics.

Harma spent her freshman season at Wayne State College in Wayne, Nebraska, studying a pre-professional degree. Her transition was one of the most extreme.

“The transition from high school to college, especially with athletics is insane,” she said. “You have to be 100 percent dedicated and in love with your sport, or you will grow to resent it.”

In addition, Harma said that as a student-athlete who’s pushing their limits, she learned a lot about herself fairly quickly. “You realize what you can do – managing a difficult school schedule, attending practices and conditioning, and balancing meets and a social life,” she said.

As she recalls her first season, Harma is elated to have contributed to the Wildcat soccer squad. She had the honor of starting most games as their goalkeeper and because the program is being rebuilt, helped the team drastically improve their statistics by cutting the goals scored on them in half, doubling the amount of shots and doubling the amount of scored goals.

“It was really good for me to get to play as a freshman. I was able to work out the kinks of the system and adjust to the game,” she said.

Her first year at WSC has still been trying, though. Being far away from her family and friends left her feeling mentally weak and not as fully committed. She half-wanted to be in Michigan, and half-wanted to be at WSC. The greatest thing she has learned can be used as advice for all college-bound athletes:

“It’s so much easier said than done, but jump in with two feet. You have to completely submerge yourself,” Harma said. “In order to be successful, you have to fully understand that this is the next chapter of your life, and embrace where you’re going.”

In order to full commit herself to school and soccer, Harma has made the decision to transfer to a school closer to home. Although this isn’t the answer for everyone, she feels that her performance and dedication will increase immensely at a location that’s more of a fit. She plans to condition hard through the summer and hopes to earn a starting spot on the squad of her next team. Look for Harma next fall at a college or university much closer to you!


Kudos to AM’s Hockey Athlete for WCHA Offensive Player of the Week

October 7th, 2014 by Athletic Mentors

Screen shot 2014-10-07 at 7.01.21 PMHat’s off to our own hockey program alumni, Chad McDonald, who’s now a Sophomore Forward with Ferris State University. Chad was nominated as the WCHA Offensive Player of the Week this week. He had two goals, a team-high five total shots and a +1 rating during ninth-ranked Ferris State’s season-opening, 4-3 win over #8 Michigan before a sellout crowd at the Ewigleben Ice Arena. The sophomore from Battle Creek, Mich. scored the game-winner with a short-handed tally in the second period. His opening goal came just 1:03 into the contest as the Bulldogs jumped out to a quick, 2-0 lead. Way to do us proud, Chad!

Read more standings, schedules or watch live games at the WCHA site.

Do you know someone who aspires to this level of play? Check out our Hockey Camps & Clinics and train like a pro!

Inspiring “Ironman” Joe Cekola Proves Attitude is Everything in Wisconsin

October 2nd, 2014 by Athletic Mentors

Joe Cekola credits his trials in life for his unstoppable performance in the face of adversity. The 52-year-old transformed from a casual runner into a competitive ‘Ironman’ despite what some would call a lifelong handicap and a broken Joe Cekola IM Wiscclavicle from a crash just eight weeks prior to Ironman Wisconscin.

Joe learned the importance of his father’s advice the hard way. At 7 years old, he lost his left hand grinding sausage at a family pizza joint. His dad told him to use the safety plunger, but in his youthful impatience, Joe decided he didn’t need any safety equipment.

While some would call it a handicap, having one hand is simply a shadow in Joe’s life. It’s not an obstacle, it just is. His mishap shaped his life attitude and instilled a do-it-all drive that might not be present if it weren’t for his childhood disobedience.

Joe credits his grandfather, who lost his arm in a factory, for influencing his positive outlook growing up. Because he had experienced something similar to Joe’s injury, he paid special attention to him and often shared his favorite line: “If they can do it, you can do it better. Don’t ever forget that.” Joe relentlessly followed his grandfather’s strong will.

“I’ve never forgotten that,” said Joe. “There’s been nothing that I can’t do. He made me do everything—I wasn’t given an option!”

He played basketball and football as a child and baseball in high school. In his young adulthood, he played in a recreation soccer league. Joe has tried most sports, but the one he hadn’t done much of was running.

Today, Joe has completed 11 marathons, an ultra, 2 triathlons, a half Ironman and an Ironman. You’d think he’d been training for years. In reality, Joe began his running journey a mere 5 years ago. He never ran seriously before 2009, but Joe had a short 3.2 mile race on his bucket list. With a little help from his friends, he completed the Borgess 5K run in his hometown, Kalamazoo. He continued to run with his training partners, and without much notice, his enjoyment of running began to grow. He progressed his running strength to marathon status and then ultra marathons until he realized that maybe he was putting too many miles on his feet.

“I was getting hurt running, so I bought a bike 1.5 years ago and decided to sign up for a small triathlon, just to see how I would do,” Joe said.

He found out he wasn’t a very good swimmer, but he enjoyed the biking aspect enough to keep training. Shortly after, he watched a friend do an Ironman in Wisconsin. Watching thousands of athletes attempt such a prestigious physical feat inspired him in a strange, oxymoronic way. The thought of completing an Ironman was intimidating yet exhilarating; Joe recollected his thoughts after committing to the idea and laughed, “I don’t even know what I’m doing, I don’t even know how to swim!”

After a near last place finish at his first triathlon and a competitive drive to get better and work toward that Ironman, he decided to join the Athletic Mentors team for a more professional training regimen.

Training at Athletic Mentors has helped Joe progress immensely, especially in the water. Swim coach Tom Belco doesn’t consider Joe’s missing hand a disadvantage. He expects Joe to train just as hard as everyone else, and serves as good mental and physical inspiration. With time, Joe penciled in a half Ironman 12 weeks before the big event: a full Ironman in Wisconsin on September 7, 2014, the same race his friend was in that inspired him.

At the Half Ironman, he was feeling great after his best swim time. But 8 miles out from the finish of the bike leg, he crashed and broke his collarbone (the same side as his missing hand, “thank God!”).

The support group at Athletic Mentors encouraged him to keep training. Between his coaches, his friends and his training partners, he pushed through the mental and physical setbacks.

“I was hesitant and thought I couldn’t do it, but they had confidence that I could come back,” said Joe.

Joe Cekola FinishFlash forward through eight weeks of training with a sling on the elliptical and in the pool, and four weeks of adjusting back to normal function. Joe was completing his first Ironman in personal record time.

Joe beat over 1,000 athletes, placing 1,636th out of 2,826. The experience was unlike anything that preceded it; 75,000 cheering fans lined the course and he had a support group of over 20 friends and family members. He swam his best time at that distance (1:39:58), had a good bike time despite the hills (7:05:59) and ran the full marathon (5:14:10) for a total time of 14:19:56.

The deep feeling of happiness and contentment is one of the greatest drives that motivates athletes like Joe. That, coupled with the strong friendships he’s developed from training, is what keeps him going. For others, Joe offers simple advice on achieving goals both big and small, the same principles he raised his three children with.

“Life is going to throw you some curve balls—accidents, crashes or losses—but never give up,” said Joe. “Just keep trekking forward one step at a time, and you can make whatever goal you want.”

Post Ironman, Joe is slowing down his training and taking a bit of recovery time. His goals for the future are unknown; he is simply reveling in accomplishing the goal he set for himself last year. “I haven’t another target yet, but I’m sure I will soon,” he said.

For now, he will join his friends in “shenanigans” and perhaps enjoy a few more beers than usual, awaiting to defeat the next challenge that is thrown his way.

Athletic Mentors’ Youth Development Team Seeks Young Cyclists

August 28th, 2014 by Athletic Mentors

As the cycling season draws to a close, as races begin to dwindle in number, many young cyclists who have now gotten a taste for racing, and maybe a win or two, start looking towards 2015. There’s no better time than the autumn to start thinking about next year’s racing and how to best train and develop one’s talent with an established, successful team and coaches like those offered by Athletic Mentors and Team OAM NOW. The development program offers guidance within the sport: mentorship, race support, training advice, strategy, technical advice, among other things. “We have the breadth and depth of experience, across all parts of athletic development, to make us one of the best in the business. Not only do we have a substantial track record of fostering some of the best cyclists in the country, but we continue to put our athletes on the podium,” says Cheryl Sherwood, Athletic Mentors’ co-founder and Team OAM NOW director.Alex Cropped

Athletic Mentors and Team OAM NOW boast a successful development program with proven results. Previous team members include: Pro Continental riders David Williams and Tom Zirbal, as well as UCI Pro riders Ted King, Larry Warbasse, and Brent Bookwalter. The established and recognized program fosters developing set teams within the pathway to higher categories (Cat. 5 to Cat. 4 to Cat. 3 and potentially the Elite team). The team pathway means a developing rider can stay with the team as they improve, while also interacting with future team mates and mentors. Now in it’s 10th year, the team has been through several name changes, Advantage Benefits/Endeavour, Priority Health, Bissell and OAM NOW, but the consistent managerial leadership, season to season, means the program is consistently funded and staffed. Athletic Mentors has the added advantage of also having high level participants in Road, Cyclocross, and MTB racing to provide needed guidance.

10580851_10105318495174854_4514820058267102349_oIn other words, finding the right program is so much more than training.

It’s about finding the right leadership.
Former Youth Development Participant and current Team OAM NOW member Alex Vanias notes, “Cheryl [Sherwood] and Mark [Olson] have managed a pro cycling team so I knew they were professionals when it comes to managing teams. They also have connections in the pro world. Sometimes it is not just your ability that gets you to the next level, but also about who you know that can help get you there.”

It’s about finding a team that values its members and supports them and their goals.
Youth Development Coach Terry Ritter: “Riders developing within our program learn accountability, self-marketing, and proper conduct consistent with success on any team they may join in the future. The AM program prides itself on providing a full service and professional environment. We do things like sign contracts, have sponsor commitments, hold expectations for rider conduct, and give back to the community by promoting cycling and healthy lifestyles specifically. We have a track record to prove we’ve found talent, developed it, and then had it move on.”

It’s about finding a coach who understands your needs.
Alex Vanias: “My first year as a category 5 racer I won only one race. The next season, on the advice of a coach, I quit running and trained as a cyclist and moved to category 2 in a matter of weeks. The AM coaches are very thorough with their advice. They run tests to find your current level of fitness and form, and will prescribe strength training to work on your weaknesses. As a new triathlete with no previous swimming experience AM has encouraged and coached me to grow as an athlete. AM has done video analysis of my stroke to see where I am going wrong, and worked to find my optimal stroke rate. It’s about me and my goals.”

It’s about finding a team that nurtures a whole-hearted approach to team and training.
The OAM NOW / Athletic Mentors Multisport Team is populated by community-minded people from all walks of life. Although each team member is unique, there are some characteristics members have in common: character, integrity, and a commitment to promoting a healthy and active lifestyle. Cory Stange, former Youth Development Participant and current Team OAM NOW cyclist notes, “For the first time in my cycling career, the team actually wanted to foster my fast finish as well as incorporate it into the plan for overall team success. This mentality of riding whole heartedly as a team and viewing any results team members achieved as a team victory was something completely new to me. It was something I had never experienced: teammates giving up their chances at overall success in order to give the team it’s best shot at winning. This sort of selflessness is rare. It’s not something you see very often on other teams at this level.”

It’s about becoming the best cyclist you can be.
Athletes are always welcome to approach the Team OAM/AM tent at races or apply through the team website here. Team selection process starts in October. We look forward to hearing from you.

Athletic Mentors’ Youth Development Program Builds Athletes and Team

August 27th, 2014 by Athletic Mentors

By Cory Stange, Team OAM Now Cyclist- Road Cat 2

Of all the road disciplines, criterium racing is the most dynamic. Emphasizing speed over endurance, crits are often won by the quick and daring. Despite believing I possessed all the skills necessary to succeed in the high speed world of crit racing, I struggled in past years to obtain the results I always felt capable of, at least until I began working with Athletic Mentors and Team OAM NOW.

Coming into 2014, and my first year with Team OAM NOW/ Athletic Mentors, everything seemed to change. For the first time in my cycling career, the team actually wanted to foster my fast finish as well as incorporate it into the plan for overall team success. This mentality of riding whole heartedly as a team and viewing any results team members achieved as a team victory was something completely new to me. Having the team dedicate themselves, near the end of a race, in order for me to sprint was a bit unnerving at the beginning of the season. It was something I had never experienced: teammates giving up their chances at overall success in order to give the team it’s best shot at winning. This sort of selflessness is rare. It’s not something you see very often on other teams at this level.

rsz_1rsz_zbc_0251Even more surprising than the selfless nature of the team, I found myself riding for the results, and wins, I was accumulating for both me and the team. I’ve always believed in myself and the potential I had, but it wasn’t until joining Team OAM NOW/Athletic Mentors this year that I saw that potential come to fruition. It’s truly amazing how surrounding yourself with the right people can make all the difference. Last year, I finished third at one race and in the top ten at a few others. This year, I’ve won four races, garnered many top five finishes, several top tens, including the Pro Cat1/2 Michigan Road Series and the overall at the Wednesday night Waterford series.

So, what changed from last year to this year? Quite a few things, but clearly, the biggest change was joining Team OAM NOW/Athletic Mentors. Cycling can be as much of a team sport as you make it. Here at OAM NOW/Athletic Mentors I’ve discovered just how much a cyclist can benefit from riding with a true team. I can honestly say my results would not look the same this year if I hadn’t been so lucky as to get chosen to be a member of this great team.

No doubt teamwork in crit racing leads to success, but being part of a team leads to successes for everyone. Being a part of this team, in particular, has changed my riding, has changed my concept of team work, and what it means to be whole-hearted in sport.

If you’d like to apply to ride for Team OAM NOW/Athletic Mentors in 2015, click here for the application.

AM’s Torres One Step Closer to 2016 Rio Olympic Dream…

April 1st, 2014 by Athletic Mentors

10015642_10153953724670006_158679333_nRaquel Torres has been training hard and making great progress toward reaching her dream goal of qualifying for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games for her home country of the Dominican Republic.

With this being her first real full season back to competition since her teenage years, Raquel is gaining qualifying points and confidence as she gets more international races under her belt.

She’s cracked the top 10 in all 3 of her ITU races in the start of this season, with a 4th place in Chile on March 30th, just 3 minutes off the podium.

Raquel is staying in South America for a few more races in April before returning home to Kalamazoo to her very supportive husband and adorable daughter.

Stay tuned for more race updates throughout April and the year as her quest to Rio continues…

Athletic Mentor Hockey Trainee Signs with Indiana Tech Warriors

March 4th, 2014 by Athletic Mentors

schmittAthletic Mentors co-founder and head hockey coach Mark Olson is tipping his hat to Michael Schmitt, Battle Creek Revolution forward who has just signed with the Indiana Tech men’s hockey team.

“Michael’s been with our program for years and has proven himself to be disciplined, tough, and committed to excellence,” Coach Olson said. “He’s an outstanding athlete, and a great guy. Indiana Tech made a good call.”

Schmitt, who hails from Kalamazoo, is a 5-foot-7, 155-pound forward who played in 44 games in the NA3HL where he collected 12 points on seven goals and five assists. While his parents credit Olson’s coaching for much of their son’s “strength, leadership, and mental toughness,” Schmitt’s tireless hours of hard work finally paid off on the ice when he caught the eye of of Indiana Tech’s Head Coach, Frank DiCristofaro.

“I like Michael’s competitive edge,” said DiCristofaro in a press release. “He works hard on the ice and even harder off of it. He had a great understanding of the game and has some deceptive speed through the neutral zone. He is a true student-athlete and is the type of person we want in this program.”

When asked what it means to join the first hockey team at Indiana Tech, Schmitt said, “I am excited to become a part of the first college hockey program at Indiana Tech. The support they get from the school is amazing and the amenities they have is what drew me to their program.”





Power Play: A Power Meter Measurement Product Comparison

January 21st, 2014 by tritter

From a training standpoint, coaches and self-coached athletes want the most objective power meter measurement possible. For several years, heart rate monitors were used but remained limited, especially for a short-term effort. Exercise labs possess stationary ergometers, but these aren’t usable for a casual group ride. In recent years, manufactures have stepped up their efforts to fill the expanding market of bicycle specific power meters; the following are different approaches complimented with their pros and cons.

Powertap G3 productsPower Tap was once owned by Tune, but is now property of Cyclops. The device has been improved considerably from its introductory days and remains as the only hub based measuring unit on the market. Power Tap uses the same strain gauge mechanics as many other designs, resulting in the same +/- 1.5% accuracy. Bike to bike moves are easy, and are only a wheel change away. The Power Tap also uses the same popular wireless software (ANT+ Sport) as most other computer head manufactures (such as Garmin) resulting in compatible head units. If you are looking for a device to use on multiple machines, this would be a logical choice. However, if a high-quality racing wheel is needed and power is desired, the hub has to be specially built into it (so no off-the-shelf prebuilt wheels). Unless you wanted to train on this same wheel (which isn’t a usual way to treat an expensive wheel), another training wheel would need to be built, meaning additional cost. Power Tap has recently reduced their pricing significantly, yielding wheels for under $900.


SRMIn the area of crank based meters, there are two choices: SRM and Quarq. The first is also the original; German Uli Schoberer released the first SRM in 1987. In developing this power meter, the strain gauges were placed in the spider arm section of a SRM specified crank. SRM is now using off the shelf high-end cranks, like Shimano’s popular Dura Ace, and engineering them to function as power meters. This allows a bike to keep the consistency of a component group (Dura Ace, Ultegra, etc.) and still measure output power in watts. Unfortunately, SRM does not have a user replaceable battery, therefore the unit must be sent back ever 1900 hours of use for replacement. SRM is testing a rechargeable battery that uses a USB port and needs attention after approximately 300 hours or use, but isn’t in production yet. The SRM can be paired with a 3rd party compatible ANT+ head unit, which allows for technology expansion. However, while most head units create an average by measuring one of the four data points every second, the SRM specific Power Control unit measures all four, then averages them for that second. Thus, for shorter measured durations such as a sprint, the Power Control unit provides more accuracy in power measuring. One common feature not on the Power Control unit is GPS. Additionally, SRM uses only the higher end cranks on the market, resulting in the highest prices, with a range from $2,400 to $4,000.


QuarqThe second popular crank-based power meter is the SRAM owned Quarq. This company shipped their first units in mid 2008. Unlike SRM, who incorporates the strain gauges into the one-piece spider/arm of the crank, Quarq looked at the still popular market that had three-piece cranks (spider, left crank arm, right crank arm) and made a replaceable spider that had the necessary electronics. This brought the price down considerably and offered a user replaceable battery, making the product consumer friendly. Quarq offers models using Cannondale, Specialized, and SRAM cranks, and has two new models, the high end Elsa and more affordable Riken. Both have similar electronics, offer the same +/- 1.5% accuracy as other power meters, and no longer need to be recalibrated when chain rings are replaced. The Elsa has lighter crank construction and offers the ability to indirectly measure separate leg strengths. All units use the ANT+ sport licensing, and pricing runs roughly 30 to 40% less then SRMs.


Stage PMA new player on the market is Stages, who began selling their products in 2012. Like other makers, strain gauges are used. However, Stages’ gauges are located in a single, thin pod that is fastened to a brand specific left crank arm, requiring the replacement of the existing crank arm. The process is simple: replace the arm, pair the 20g meter with your head unit of choice, and that’s it. The system multiplies this single power reading by two to get your total power, making the assumption both legs are similar in strength. Stages states only about 5% of the riders have a significant difference. One drawback is that only metal crank arms are offered, which typically means Shimano. A full range of models exist (105, Ultegra, and Dura Ace), and are very reasonably priced at $600 to $900. These systems are ANT + compatible and have the new Bluetooth transmission. Accuracy is rated at +/- 2%, without factoring in any possible leg discrepancies.


garmin-vectorThe newest player on the market is Garmin’s Vector pedal power meter. This technology was acquired from MetriGear, who showed prototypes at a few yearly conventions but couldn’t get the product to the market. Garmin ran into the same problem, but finally delivered this last year. Obviously, the greatest advantage is portability, as a wrench is all you need to move power-measuring capability from bike to bike. In addition, there is a wealth of knowledge with left and right real time readouts, as well as a total power value. The price is below most crank based units at about $1700, and sneaks in at about 45g more than a normal pedal system. However, the heart of the unit is a Look Keo pedal, so the user should find that mechanism to their liking. As a downfall, the system uses battery life considerably faster then other meters, needing a change every 175 hours. Each pedal requires its own battery, and crashes will likely see your expensive power meter grind across the pavement. Being a Garmin product, the system uses the ANT+ sport software for wireless transmission.


It is obvious that power meter development is on the rise and will continue to become more compatible, more convenient, and more advanced. Any of these products will complete its task of measuring your power output for power-based training. The choice really comes down to how often you want to move it, how accurate you need the data and how much you’re willing to pay.


Unfinished Business: How to Become a Comeback Kid

November 15th, 2013 by tritter

comebackkidMany adult athletes can trace their sporting start to a younger, simpler time when life’s responsibilities had yet to compete and consume their schedule. Dominican-born triathlete Raquel Tavares-Torres was one such promising young athlete whose athletic achievements would be sidelined in her prime by study, marriage, and raising a family. Sixteen years later, with great coaching and a supportive family, Tavares-Torres has become the ultimate comeback kid.

Tavares-Torres took up swimming at the age of 3, and competition by the age of 5. She started mountain bike riding and racing around the age of 12 and then combined these abilities with running when she started triathlons two years later. She continued to develop in multisport through a local club, and at 16 took 1st in the Junior Pan American games. Though she loved the sport, she had turned her focus towards getting her degrees, first an undergrad, then a masters, and finally an MBA. Along the way, she married and had a daughter.

Fast forward 15 years to 2012 when Tavares-Torres’ husband suggested she try competing again by doing a local Grand Rapids triathlon. With a bike purchase in hand, she signed up for an Olympic distance event. With three weeks of training, and just a few rides on her new steed, Tavares-Torres took a remarkable 2nd. A few weeks later she took 1st overall at the Michigan Championships. The fire had been lit.

Tavares-Torres joined a local tri club, and decided to get some VO2 testing done at Athletic Mentor partner, In The Zone, where she set the record for the highest results they’d ever recorded. Her home country, Dominican Republic, wanted her to turn elite. She’d confirmed she had the talent, but knew she lacked direction. In February of ’13, Tavares-Torres started working with Athletic Mentors’ coach Mark Olson.

At first Tavares-Torres wasn’t sure. “I didn’t think I was training enough, but kept seeing improvement from race to race,” she said. “I decided to just trust Mark.”

Tavares-Torres also appreciates the tools AM uses, like Training Peaks.

“I love to be organized, and then talk to Mark if I need to change things,” she said. Olson used these tools to address Tavares-Torres biggest weakness, the bike. After some dedicated base building on two wheels, things started to come together.

“I felt better on the bike and also the run,” she said. It became apparent she was on the right track. “I think Mark knows what he’s doing.”

Tavares-Torres is now focusing on her longer team goals. She wants to see how far she can take this sport, and for the top ranked Dominique Republic female pro triathlete, that means representing her home country by qualifying for the 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janerio. Along that path is the Chicago ITU World Cup in June of 2014.

With a goal in mind and the support of her family, home federation, and coach, Tavares-Torres is again prioritizing the sport she left as a youth. She wants to give it her best, leaving no unfinished business.



Training Structure Helps AM Triathlete Set Personal Best at IM Lake Placid

August 31st, 2013 by tritter

Most athletes will tell you the greatest gain from coaching is the guidance to do the right things, at the right time, in the right amounts. Even seasoned triathletes like Jay Lonsway can learn new tricks from a structured training plan. Lonsway called his quest to improve his 2012 Lake Placid Ironman time under the tutelage of coach Mark Olson “eye-opening.” But the proof was in his performance: this year, he shaved an hour off his 2012 performance.

The key is having a best-laid plan and an enforcer on hand. Before hiring a coach, Lonsway would struggle with consistency.

“I would have peaks and valleys in my training, where I was feeling great, then crash and burn for a month or two and have to recover,” Lonsway said.

Working with head coach Mark Olson changed that.

“Working with Mark has definitely taught me to temper my enthusiasm. By having a structured plan it has kept me from the feeling to crush every workout,” Lonsway said.

Another valuable lesson learned was understanding the benefits of proper rest and recovery. It’s human nature to feel that if some is good, more is better. This approach, however, can inhibit the improvements the athlete seeks. Sometimes less is more.

“By finding the ability to rest…you find your 100% versus the consistent 80%, which helps my overall performance,” Lonsway said.

Olson’s knowledge and structured plan also allowed more efficient training sessions for the busy professional. His training was often separated to allow workouts before and after work.

Lonsway also benefited from the full service nature of Athletic Mentors. Olson helped refine his bike position through two fitting sessions. Ideal event nutrition has been a year-to-year quest, but Lonsway took that quest further while working with his coach. Swim analysis and effective workouts from AM coach Tom Belco have set the stage for a strong Ironman event. Lonsway would often come out of the water feeling “toasted”.

“Working with coach Belco has been incredibly beneficial,” Lonsway said. Learning better swim technique, and being more efficient, has given him a better start to the event, which benefits his bike and run transitions.

“Getting a coach is a team effort, a great expert opinion on what you should do for exercise and training. It’s been really good for me,” he says.

Athletes benefit from someone looking over their shoulder, planning their workouts, coordinating their rest and efforts to achieve the athletic goals they have set out before them. Lonsway has found all that and more while working with Athletic Mentors, and when asked to sum up his experience, positively states, “Mark has been a fantastic coach.”