LifeSport Athlete of the Month Feature: Karine Spagnoletti
Karine Spagnoletti had a heck of a 2017 triathlon season! To top it all off, she finished her season ranked top Canadian in the Ironman All World Athlete Rankings for F40-44 (ranked 4th overall in the world).
Her Coach Chuck Kemeny writes:
Karine and I have been working together for a year now. When I first spoke with her about coaching, she was concerned about her inability to sustain her power on the bike during an ironman and about her run not being where she felt it could/should be. We discussed her approach to training, racing, fueling, and her mental game. After a couple of conversations, it was apparent that she had the drive and determination to go far and most importantly, she was ready to learn. In the year that I have been coaching Karine, she had the following results:
· Raleigh 70.3 – 2nd in her AG and 70.3 World Championship Qualification
· Ironman Lake Placid – 3rd in her AG and Ironman World Championship Qualification
· Atlantic City 70.3 – 2nd in her AG and 70.3 World Championship Qualification
· Ironman World Championships – 32nd in her AG
· Ironman Arizona – 1st in her AG and Ironman World Championship Qualification
What is the secret to her success? We worked together to improve all aspects of her training and racing. We focused on her mental game, nutrition, power, speed, endurance, technique, and recovery habits. She not only works hard, but works smart. Throughout our time working together, she has developed an awareness of self that helps us to make adjustments to her training plan to help ensure a proper balance of loading and recovery. She learned to read her body well enough to recognize when to make adjustments to her fueling plan and/or race strategy. This has allowed her to have success after success throughout the year. Another secret is our desire to seek continual improvement. This means breaking down key workouts and races to see what we can learn from them. Every race good or bad presents an opportunity to learn.
I am continualy impressed by the level of passion she brings to triathlon. Although Karine sarcastically responded: "I would say that I am more intoxiated than passionate!...I like the challenge of the sport. It's a constant adventure and y ou know know how it's going to go".
When asked: What comes to your mind when reflecting back on this past season? What led to your successes – and on the other side of that – what was challenging? Karine answered:
When I reflect back on this past year, what comes to mind is teamwork. This was my first year working with Chuck and we made a lot of progress in one year. But it was definitely a team effort. We learned from every session and race, and gradually built the year by adjusting, reevaluating, and goal setting. It has been such a fun learning experience of also discovering how far I could push my body.
Communication is key, and I think it goes back to teamwork. Having someone who believes in me more than I do myself is powerful. Having someone to talk to when doubts creep in is so important for the mental game. And having a coach that listens to all the aches and pains and takes time to analyze each workout from nutrition to power to pace and effort made all the hard work worth it. I always felt like every session had a purpose and a goal - that motivates me to always do my best. When there is mutual respect between a coach and an athlete, it’s a winning combination. I always want to do my best and always aim to impress my coach.
The biggest challenge for me is confidence. Chuck has worked hard to try to get me to toe the line at every race with confidence - and trust me, many times I’m sure it felt like he was getting nowhere with me. I tend to attribute any successful race or training session to luck or a one-time occurrence. I️ always thought of myself as a realist and I️ struggle with the concept of positive thinking. To me the proof is in the pudding and unless I️ achieve a goal or have a great race, it’s hard for me to believe that I️ have the potential. But when you have people that believe in you more than you do yourself and pushes you to train and race hard, eventually it starts sinking in and you start believing. It’s still a work in progress, but I think it’s a key component to success and something I continue to work on.