Deep Dive into Coach Jess

Here at Rising Tide Triathlon Coaching, our coaches are very special people. 

Coaches do a number of things – they teach, they listen, and most importantly, they inspire.  Coach Jess is no exception to this rule, so we took some time to sit down with Jess and learn a little more about her and her coaching philosophy.

Jess currently resides in the bay area in California with her husband of eight years and her eight-month old daughter, Hanna.  Jess was raised in Winfield, Kansas, and was no stranger to sports growing up, and swam competitively from age 9-18.  Want to learn a little more about Jess?  Well, read on!

Coach Jess and her daughter, Hanna

Coach Jess and her daughter, Hanna

Fun Facts About Jess

  • Even though she swam competitively, running is her favorite leg of the triathlon.  She dabbled in marathon running before competing in her first triathlon!
  • Jess couldn’t live without peanut butter.  She could put peanut butter on almost anything!
  • Her favorite inspirational quote is, “Never let success go to your head, never let failure go to your heart."
  • One of Jess’ role models is her coach, Tim Sheeper.  He never complains and has a fantastic outlook on life.  Always looking for new challenges, he completed Ironman World Championships, Xterra World Championships and Ultraman Hawaii all the year he turned 50!

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Q&A with Jess

On Coaching:

So Jess, what is your coaching philosophy?

My coaching philosophy is to leave no stone unturned.  Preparing an athlete for their race isn’t just about swimming, biking, and running.  It’s about recovery, nutrition, mobility, strength, life stress, gear, and mental preparation.  I don’t hit my athletes with all of that from the get go, but as we progress through our coach / athlete relationship, we make sure to incorporate all of these key areas into the training and racing plan.

I am also big on communication.  I want to make sure our plan is working for the athlete: they are getting faster and stronger, AND still able to maintain the lifestyle they want.  Regular feedback and constant reevaluation is necessary to ensure this is happening.

What would you say is the hardest part about being a coach?
I think the hardest part of being a coach is not being able to see my athletes every day and train WITH them in person.  I am HUGE on having fun and motivating others and that’s not quite as easy to do through e-mail and phone calls.


What do you hope your athletes learn from you?  
I hope my athletes learn how to have fun working hard, how to incorporation solid training into busy lifestyles, and how to make triathlon a true passion (if it isn’t already).  I also hope to impart knowledge on form, how best to improve each discipline, and how to develop a bulletproof race plan to maximize the results of all the hard work we put in ahead of time.

And vice versa, what do you learn from your athletes?
I hope to learn from my athletes more about what motivates them internally and externally. Each athlete is completely different mentally and physiologically.  One type of training that works well for one athlete might not work well for another.  I hope to (over time) understand the best possible training to prescribe for each individual so we are meeting their specific needs and finding a formula leading them to their best possible race.

Do you have a favorite response from an athlete after you gave them a workout?
The best response so far was after an easy run I prescribed to an athlete.  She was supposed keep her HR under 115 and when I got her data back (sent automatically from her watch upon completion of the workout) I saw her average HR was over 120.  I wrote a note right away in her training peaks about the importance of sticking to the plan and not over-running on her easy days.  She responded with an apology, but explained she was sticking to the plan until a guy started running next to her, matching her pace.  She only sped up to get away from him.  I told her that was a perfectly acceptable reason to run a little faster!

Okay.  Time to learn a little more about you and your training!

On Training:

Jess, What are some of the challenges you face being a new mom and trying to train/race at the Pro level?

sonjawieck@mac.com

The biggest challenge I face now is prioritizing my time.  I still work full-time so balancing work, raising our daughter, and training is tough.  I use to train 25-30 hours/week before Hanna was born, but now if I can get in 16hrs it’s a pretty good week.  Since my training time is more limited and my schedule is even more hectic than before, I have to be smart about my training.  I do more aerobic work to make sure I don’t get run down.  I’ve backed off my time in the pool a bit in order to get in more cycling and running.  It means slightly slower swim times, but hopefully that won’t affect my overall position and place in my pro races much. I also now do most of my running WITH Hanna in the jogging stroller.  It’s great for strength training and it’s nice to be able to get in my training AND still spend time with my little one!

What’s your prerace routine look like? Is there anything you HAVE to do every time?

I’m not superstitious or anything so nothing I HAVE to do every time, but I try to keep my routine pretty regular.  I like to lay out my gear as early as possible. I always lay everything (even nutrition) out according to sport and run through the race to make sure I have everything I need. Then I pack it all back up into my transition bag so it’s easy to access and set up in transition on race day. 

The day before the race I like to do a short swim, bike, run along the course to keep the body moving and make sure my bike is running well. Race morning I’m usually up before my alarm goes off.  I get dressed, put on my race tattoos and sunscreen and try to get as much breakfast down as possible (usually peanut butter toast with a banana).  On the way to the race I start drinking Clif Shot electrolyte drink.  When I get to transition, I make sure all my gear is set up and is easily accessible for a quick transition.  I make a bathroom stop and go for a quick warmup jog.  Then I just try to stay as relaxed as possible before the gun goes off!

So, on that note…do you have any good luck charms?

My good luck charms are my husband and our daughter.  That’s all I need!


Well, it sounds like you’re quite busy.  How do you manage to unwind after a long day?

After we put our little one to bed, my husband and I relax on the couch and chat about the day.  Sometimes we turn on one of our favorite programs (usually something from Masterpiece on PBS).  My bedtime is pretty early so there’s usually not a ton of unwinding time.  If I get in bed early enough I like to read a few pages either in a triathlon related book or historical non-fiction.

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So there you have it!  Coach Jess may have a PACKED schedule, but she sure knows how to find the ever-important balance between training, work and family.  We love having Jess a part of the RTTC family, and if you’d like to learn more about working with Jess or any of our other fantastic coaches, check out http://www.risingtidetri.com/enrolltraining for more information!