Nathan Kortuem is a USAT Certified coach, and one of a select group of Elite USAT Coaches.
Holding a degree in Physical Education and Corporate, Community Health and Fitness from Minnesota State University, he has extensive knowledge of biomechanics, physiology and sports psychology. He is also a Sram Technical University qualified mechanic.
How did you get into triathlon coaching?
got my start in coaching by necessity. I saw that my wife Sarah needed
someone there to train with her and read her body. She has worked with
many great coaches over the years. We have learned from these coaches
on how to to train. But the real art of it is reading her body's
Being her husband and seeing her 24/7 I know what she is feeling and if she is getting over trained or not. The science is second to the art of the training process. I.e. putting in the stimulus and getting the response you want.
What do you think are the qualities that make a good triathlon coach, and what advice would you give someone looking for a coach?
The best qualities in any coach is the ability to listen to and read their athletes. The athlete's whole being comes into play when you are trying to get the best out of them. Whether that be mental or physical aspects.
Many coaches can over look signs that the athletes are giving them. If a athlete is in a bad mood that is going to greatly effect their workouts for the day.
If the mental side is not engaged, the physical side will be affected. The athlete will just be going through the motions. As a coach you have to know when to push and when to back off, all while engaging the mental side of the athlete.
If the athlete doesn’t understand or know why they are doing things, you will not bring that athlete to their best. After all, the athlete is in control of their body.
What are the best and the hardest things about coaching your wife?
The best things about coaching my wife is that it allows us to really work as a team! I get to see her almost 24hrs a day. I get a real sense of how she is feeling and what her moods are.
This allows me to take different mental approaches to her training sessions. Whether that be a training partner that makes her think mental strategies, a “no excuses coach” or a coach that really is there for support and just building her up and listening.
That final aspect is hard sometimes because I come from an ice hockey background, so I have to control my inner drill sergeant at times.
Sarah can be hard headed with me and that is good thing! She is a people pleaser by nature and can not say no to anyone but me!!!
This is a huge stress reliever for her as if she feels we are doing something stupid she will let me know quickly. She asks questions all the time and this makes me think every second on how to make her better.
Overall, this makes me a better coach.
Can you keep up with her when you train together?!
I can still out bike and run her; however, when we start doing the 5k swim workouts day after-day, I break down and she can smoke me.
What has been your most rewarding moment as a coach so far?
The most rewarding things would have to be the little things in training. I know it sounds weird but I love getting to hang out day to day and watching all the hard work pay off in races. However, when an off race comes along, it is very challenging in trying to figure out the mistakes.
You’re a qualified mechanic, and refer a few times on Twitter to being the 'bike packer’ and ‘bag carrier’ for Sarah. What does a trip to a race look like for you, as coach, husband and mechanic/bag packer?
This is a great honour to have this job. I say Sarah has Mechanical Dyslexia. She puts all her trust in me and that is real pressure. I know if her bike is 100% ready to go and the equipment is taken care of, Sarah can solely focus on racing!
As well as coaching Sarah you run Tri-K Coaching, a triathlon coaching business. Can you tell us a bit about your business? Does your approach change between coaching an elite triathlete and an age-grouper?
Well my coaching business is not very big. I have two other athletes other than Sarah.
My approach to coaching however doesn’t change whether you are a beginner or a veteran-pro. I study what an athlete's needs are and what we need to do to bring them to their very best. I build their sessions and season around their goals and what they need to work on.
24th January 2012