Was this your first Ironman or had you completed any before?
Third Ironman…Did Ironman Melbourne and Ironman Florida
What made you reach out to Joe for Ironman coaching?
Didn’t have the best experience with my previous coach, and Michael Little said that Joe was amazing.
What were some things that were different in Joe's approach compared to other coaches you've used in the past (if any)?
Joe cares. It may seem like a small, thing, but Joe actually genuinely cares about his athletes and wants what is best for them inside their goals. He absolutely pushes you beyond what you think is possible, but he is careful to stay within the boundaries of your goals and limitations to allow you to excel at things other than Ironman while training (I.e. Being a good father, husband, and employee). He listens, and my goodness, he always calls back as soon as he is able.
What do you feel was the most valuable aspect of using Joe as your coach?
Joe is exceptionally attentive and customizes your plan based upon what is most important to you. He does a fantastic job of getting the most out of you. I know I said it before, but Joe calls back and is accessible. I am, by no means, a stellar athlete or one who is going to get Joe’s name in lights as this amazing trainer to pick up other celebrity clients. I am just an ordinary guy trying to do another Ironman with the least amount of effort and still have a semblance of a family life. I want to have the best experience possible on race day, but I don’t want to give up my life and sacrifice my firstborn for a good time…but Joe is there no matter what. No matter how insignificant my questions might be, he treats them as real as I feel them in the moment, and takes the time to talk me through whatever is ailing me at the time. He is just an awesome, attentive guy.
Did you have any training hiccups along the way? And if so, how did you guys address them?
I had a run in with plantar fasciitis that was creeping in and Joe was ready to adjust my training plan to address it. I had a back spasm about 7 days before the race and he quickly helped me find a masseuse the day before the race to try to knead it out. He was on vacation and he was still accessible.
Did you feel prepared and in good racing form on race day?
Absolutely. Felt the best shape I have been in on race day, but I always wish I could have done more after the race is over (as we all do!!!)! That race was the toughest I had done to date, but it was the most rewarding experience to date as well. Thanks to Joe, I learned to push myself on the run as I never had before!
What would you suggest to others who are considering completing their first Ironman?
Invest the money in a good coach prior to heading down the road to an Ironman. Even doing my third, I would not sign on the dotted line for a race of that magnitude without having someone who can help you construct the plan that can give you the best race day experience. Anyone can look online or get a buddy’s plan and work on it, but it isn’t the early phases of the training where it becomes important…it’s those last few weeks that are important. Getting a coach that can work with you long enough to understand your strengths and weaknesses, who understands your fears and anxieties, and someone who ultimately gets why you even signed up for the race is the person who you need fighting for you when the wheels might start coming off right before the race. Those last few weeks of the training are the hardest and will elicit the biggest sources of questions, and having a great cornerman like Joe is crucial to hitting that Ironman on game-day in your peak form. He can adjust your plan as needed and can ebb and flow based upon anything that life throws at you. Get a coach, get a coach, get a coach, I say!!!
Do you feel having a coach made a difference in the way things went in training and race day?
100%. Joe put me in situations that I would have never experienced otherwise, and I was able to draw on those immediate experiences to get through the challenges of race day. Even as an experienced (not a good racer, just experienced!) racer, I have many different experiences, to pull from, but Joe put me out there and stretched me at times further than I would have otherwise pushed. At one point I pushed too hard and he and I got the opportunity to talk through each of these experiences and how to deal with them in the future.
Joe Sulak is the best coach I have ever had, and when I tackle another race, he will be the first person I call prior to signing on the dotted line. He is an amazing coach, and amazing family-man, and just a good friend. Thank you, Joe!!!