Siri Lindley is a 2-time ITU World Champion who was very dominant in 2001 and 2002. Now working as a coach of a strong group of professional athletes, Siri stepped in the limelight again when her longtime protégé Mirinda Carfrae won the 2010 Ford Ironman World Championships.
Slowtwitch: We are very glad to have a chat with you Siri.
Siri: So happy to share some time with you! Thanks for having me here!
ST: After Mirinda’s win in Kona did it take very long to get back down from cloud 9?
Siri: Mirinda winning Kona was incredible. It was a dream come true for both of us. Everything we have worked for over the past 5 years. Instead of lying around on cloud 9 however, it just made me more fired up and determined to continue doing what we are doing, and continue striving for excellence.
ST: How confident were you pre Kona that Mirinda would be delivering the goods come race day and independent from who was there?
Siri: Mirinda and I both knew that she had reached a whole new level in 2010. We had specific goals we knew we wanted to achieve in training. Goals we knew she had to achieve in order for both of us to feel confident that she could indeed race for the win in 2010. That being said…Mirinda accomplished all we had hoped for, throughout the training and racing season - so we knew she was ready to race.
Kona and the Ironman World Championship, deserves all the respect in the world. We both have a great respect not only for the race, the island, the conditions, but every competitor out there. We knew that all we could do is prepare to the very best of our abilities. On race day, the goal was just to race her race. Because of our meticulous preparation, we knew that as long as she did this, she was capable of having a very strong and fast day. Although respecting every great competitor out there on race day, she knows to keep the focus purely on herself.
ST: Is Mirinda an easy person to coach?
Siri: Mirinda and I have been working together for over 5 years now. She is the ideal athlete to coach. Incredible work ethic, a great communicator, and committed entirely to our plan, and the work we do. Trusting in what she is doing everyday, and following one path solidly, has been a key to her great success. She is relentless in her pursuit of excellence, and diligent in leaving no stone unturned. Despite all her incredible success, she is humble, modest and always ready and willing to give a hand to others. A true class act.
ST: Have you noticed an increased demand in your coaching services since October?
Siri: Yes, I have. It is a great compliment, and I appreciate the requests so much. I am so grateful. I however really like to be able to give my heart and soul to each athlete that I take on…again, leaving no stone unturned, and knowing each individual implicitly in order to write the perfect plan and have a total handle on it, at all times.
I keep my squad to a max of 15. So despite the requests, I have stuck to a total of 15 for the 2011 squad. I actually had 5 spaces open up this year, with athletes going their separate ways, so that allowed me to take on wonderful new athletes such as Chris Foster, David Kahn, Magali Tisseyre, Anna Cleaver, Donna Phelan, Michelle Wu and Erin Spitler. We are at 15 total now. Seeing as though this is all I do…this number allows me to really give everything I can give to each and every athlete.
ST: How would you describe your coaching philosophy?
Siri: ‘Leave no stone unturned,’ full on commitment to my athletes. My goal is to understand each athlete and find the perfect recipe for bringing out the very best in them, and training them to achieve their every dream in this sport. I insist upon great communication, and total commitment. If we are going to work together I demand they step onto our path and plant their feet firmly into the ground on which we stand. Their dreams become my dreams. I make sure that we leave no stone unturned! We are all about mind, body, spirit and having it all come together in our pursuit of excellence. I have an incredible support team - my assistant coach Nikki DiSanto is a certified personal trainer, TRX trainer and nutritionist. She is able to plan and work with the athletes on these aspects of their training. We cover every base - training, race planning and strategy, strength, flexibility, mental training, recovery, stress release, injury prevention, etc… But mostly just being consistent with the hard work. Challenging them to face their fears or limiting factors and forge forward with determination and courage.
ST: With some athletes there is quite a bit of a musical coaching chair game going on. Would you think that some of these athletes might not be coachable or just haven’t met the right match /philosophy yet?
Siri: Some athletes expect an immediate fix, but major goals take time, they take sticking to a plan, and forging forward through all the ups and downs. A lot of times you see an athlete, who has a bad race, and suddenly they think, ‘I need a change!’ so they go somewhere else, new ideas, new philosophies. Their brains get so full of so many different ways of training that they end up all over the place. There are so many ideas and philosophies out there - many which can lead to great success if you choose one and stick to it. But, trying to follow 2 or 3 different philosophies at once will only lead you astray and further and further from your dreams. Find a coach that inspires you, that brings out the best in you, who you believe in!
Then, like any relationship, work with it, stick with it, through the ups and the downs…and commit yourself entirely. Being a great athlete involves taking complete personal responsibility. Being accountable for yourself. All those things will lead to the ultimate success. Also, of great importance and something I require from any athlete wanting to come here…do your research, talk to a number of coaches and ask questions. Find that one that you know with all your heart is the right coach for you. Come to me only when you are 100% positive that this is what you want. Be sure about your decision. Because when you come here I will throw 100% of myself in and I expect you to do the same!
ST: During your very fine career, how was your relationship with your coaches?
Siri: I have always had great relationships with my coaches. I was the type of athlete that had that blind faith, and believed in whatever decision I made. I would always make a decision based upon that feeling in my heart that I know this is right! So, once there I was entirely and wholeheartedly committed.
Jack Ralston from New Zealand, an awesome coach, led me from beginning pro to solid top 10 finisher in World Cup races. He was a great motivator, but we didn’t train together in person and that was something I really craved. So, when Loretta Harrop approached me about joining Brett Suttons squad I thought, ‘wow, this is a dream opportunity’ and I then did everything I could to convince Brett to take me on. Brett Sutton in my opinion is the best coach in the world. He really knew how to get to the nitty gritty of who I am as a person. He had the ability to find a way to push me from being 4th place in a World Cup race to winning!
I have never trained so hard in my life, but that being said, I hadn’t been training very hard before, and didn’t know what training properly really meant. I sure learned that from Brett.
His approach, straight forward and brutally honest really worked for me. The training itself, and how it was organized really brought out the best in me. Training with other world-class athletes like Loretta Harrop and Annie Emmerson...having to train against some of the best every single day, really showed me where I needed to be, and what I had to do to get there.
I would say I have a much different approach, but very similar philosophies. I am fortunate that that mix has been successful. I thank Brett, not only for the athlete I ultimately became but also for inspiring me daily in my coaching. He is an incredible man, and deserves nothing but the utmost respect for the incredible work he has achieved. I thank all my coaches, my family, my training partners and my former athletes, all of whom I learned things from that helped me to become a better coach.
ST: How much is the coaching game changing?
Siri: To be honest, I don’t really pay attention to what is going on in the world with other coaches, other squads, anything outside of what we are doing right here. I don’t find coaching a game - I find it my passion, my life. I want to make everyday the very best day it can be, to get the very most out of every athlete, and to help them achieve their every dream. All the while being the best person I can be. Just like racing, my biggest advice to every athlete - race your race, keep your energy on you and on what you are doing, and that will lead you to your best results. So, that is what I am doing… ‘racing my own race, and keeping the focus on my own production right here.’
ST: Game was maybe the wrong term, but has coaching morphed with changing technology various new training tools?
Siri: There are so many things coaches and athletes can now use in training and racing, power meters, heart rate monitors, Garmins etc, etc. All can be very helpful and provide great information. I think there are amazing developments in technology, but still believe that ultimately success depends upon the engine, the toughness and strength of the athletes mind and the spirit of the athlete. I try to avoid paralysis by analysis. We do use power, heart rate, and some other tools, but sporadically. More for a tracking progress but not on a regular basis.
ST: Any other thoughts?
Siri: I feel so blessed to be a part of this great sport and to work with the amazing athletes that I do. I am inspired daily and just love my job. Seeing people like Mirinda and Leanda Cave, Chris Foster - just 3 examples of many. They set out each and every day with one goal of becoming the very best athletes they are capable of becoming, they leave no stone unturned. They challenge themselves in every way, and they are incredible role models. Appreciative for the opportunities they have, always positive and relentless and striving for more, they love what they do.
I love what I do. We all are willing to put everything we have into achieving our goals.
Put all that together and success is inevitable!!!
To everyone, good Luck and have fun! Hope you have an awesome season!!
Siri Lindley's site is: siri-lindley.com