Featured Coach: Mary Timoney
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Get to know Mary Timoney, Ironman University Certified Coach
How do you start your triathlon career?
- I was an injured runner. I tore my hamstring at the insertion and couldn’t run at all for a month. I bought a road bike for the cardio, and on my first ride I met some triathletes, one of which was a coach.
What inspired you to become a triathlon coach?
- The sport has given me so much I felt like I wanted to give back. I wanted to see others reach their potential.
Podcasts, Music or silence on long runs and rides?
- I’m a podcast junkie! I listen to them all day long!
Any podcast, book or movie recommendations (can be sport-related or not)?
- Build Your Tribe with Brock Johnson. It’s great for keeping up with Instagram and Tik Tok trends on social media
- "The path to success is to take massive determined action.” -Tony Robbins
Favorite meal after a big workout?
- Bagel with crunchy peanut butter and strawberry jelly.
Best city (or particular road / trail) to go for a run or ride in?
- Austin, TX
How would you describe your style of coaching?
- Athlete centered. It has to be! Think of them and their needs.
Any moment you'd define as your proudest as a coach or PT?
- I had 2 All World Athletes at Ironman Texas in 2018. Both came in under 11 hours. It was AMAZING! We were all so emotional. One of the best days of my coaching career for sure.
Favorite vacation spot?
- South Padre Island, TX
Race recommendation for new triathletes (and why)?
- Sprint first then Olympic. Take on the Iron distances once you have a few races under your belt. My first race was the Parris Island Triathlon (Sprint) in Beaufort, SC. The scenery is beautiful and the crowd is so motivating.
One piece of advice to someone just starting on their triathlon journey?
- Enjoy the ride. I was very focused on being competitive but it’s important to go out there and have fun!
What are your favorite training apps and resources and why?
- Training Peaks, Garmin Connect, Strava for the social thing. Oh, and Peloton! I like Matt Wilpers Power Zone rides!
What is Coach Mary Timoney's Coaching Style?
How do you approach working with new athletes, particularly those who may be just starting out or are returning to the sport after a break?
- I try to get to know as much as I can about them, their background, where they have been, races they have completed, strengths and things they need to work on. We go from there.
What do you believe sets your coaching style apart from other coaches in the industry?
- I hold a soft spot in my heart for Veterans and US military. I have worked with many military folks on various installations around the country. I am married to a United States Marine, hence the name of my business-Marinewife Multisport.
How do you help your athletes set and achieve their goals, both in the short term and long term?
- We take a look at where they are now and where they want to be. I prescribe workouts to help them get there safely. Short term goals are the immediate action they can take right now; Longer term goals require a vision not only about triathlon but how to manage a work/ life/ family balance long term.
How do you incorporate strength training and cross-training into your runners' training plans?
- I’m a huge fan of strength training. (Check out my YouTube Channel!) I take sport specific exercises combined with mobility and flexibility and create workouts from there. If a runner has an injury, we can do a lot to keep up his/her fitness while recovering the injury. Elliptical, standing run on the bike, pool running, etc.
Can you share a success story of an athlete you've worked with who has made significant progress under your coaching?
- Sure. My athlete Bret was a total beginner. I coached him during COVID and 3 of the races he signed up for during COVID were cancelled. That didn’t stop him. He actually created a 70.3 course here in College Station and did it on his own. This was one amazing day watching him cross the finish line in front of his house. From sprint beginner to 70.3 I watched him progress, all during COVID.
How do you stay up-to-date on the latest research and trends in the field of running and coaching?
- I am on triathlete.com, training peaks, ironman.com etc. most days. I listen to a few coach podcasts also. Ironman makes us re-certify every year so I am always up to date.
What advice would you give to someone who is considering hiring a running coach or starting to work with one for the first time?
- Use common sense. It has to be a good fit. I usually meet my athletes for coffee first or have a phone call Q and A. I tell them up front that the purpose of that visit is to see if I am a good fit for them. Not all coaches fit every athlete. The communication must be open and often.
What does your ideal athlete for coaching look like and why?
- He is male, most likely a seasoned athlete looking for more. He may or may not be a first time iron distance athlete, but he definitely has some experience under his belt. He is probably married with a family, early 40’s, a high level of fitness, working full time, and like most, trying to make it all work. He is driven, dedicated, not afraid to do the work. That’s not to say that I don’t have female athletes because I do, but I guess you could say that is my avatar.
What is the best cross-training you recommend?
- I had an athlete once who had a knee injury. She bought one of those Street Striders. It’s sort of like a moving elliptical trainer that you ride outside. She did most of her long runs on this because we needed to save her knee for the race. She did wonderfully and finished the run at her Ironman with hardly any knee pain. I highly recommend one of these for cross training or if you have an injury.
How do you incorporate swim, bike, and run training into your athletes' training plans, and how do you balance the demands of each discipline?
- I usually give an athlete 3 workouts of each discipline. There are short high intensity efforts during the week with a long run and ride on the weekends. I always look at the terrain of the race to see what we are up against and plan a lot of the workouts based on that. I am big on putting bricks (bike to run) in the program at least 2X a week so you get used to running on tired legs. I try not to put two hard workouts back to back. For example, I will follow a hard run with a swim the next day, etc.
How do you help your athletes stay motivated and focused throughout their training, especially when training for a long-distance event like an Ultra or Ironman?
- I check on them often. I look at their workouts daily, ask a lot of questions, and make comments. I help them envision themselves crossing the finish line and talk about race day often. I’m big on affirmations, good self-talk, and visualizations. I remind them of the big picture.
If you had to pick one: morning or evening runs?
If you had to pick one: hot temp run (90F) or cold temp (20F) run?
If you had to pick one: 5k vs 10k vs 13.1 vs 26.2?
- 5K or 10K.
If you had to pick one: Spring vs Olympic vs 70.3 vs 140.6?
- Sprint was my best distance then Olympic.
If you had to pick one: speed vs endurance?
- Tempo, ha ha.
If you had to pick one: road or trail run?
- Trail. Shady.
If you had to pick one: road, gravel or mountain biking?