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Athletic development specialists dedicated to the art and science of excellence in movement

Interview with Coach Marc Evans

We are privileged to have Coach Marc Evans for this interview to discuss a variety of multisport topics.  Coach Evans is one of the true legends in the sport with a resume of accomplishments too long to list here.   Please check out his website at www.evanscoaching.com for more information.   

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*Coach, thanks for taking the time for this interview.  Can you tell us how you got started as one the sport's coaching pioneers in the 1980's?  Can't imagine there were too many triathlon coaches back then!

[Marc's Reply:] It was more or less a “perfect storm”. I had been cycling and marathoning in the late 70’s early 80’s and like so many others at the time heard about this event called the Ironman (15 people did the first one). It was in 1981 that I started training for the event and almost immediately people were asking me a lot of questions about training. Of course, I didn’t know a lot, but I was organizing workout plans for myself and a few friends and within a short time people started paying me. I was the first triathlon coach ever in the sport, but I was really lucky to have a pool of very talented athletes to work with. We were winning just about all of the events so, it just kept growing from there. 

*Has your coaching style or philosophy changed over your career, particularly with the evolution in the field of functional movement training?

[Marc's Reply:] My style of coaching has always centered upon technique coupled with intensity. But in the “old days” we didn’t have the knowledge of movement function and assessing the athletes limiters that I began to write about in 1999 and incorporated into my coaching. That is, we’d perform mobility, stability and flexibility examinations before assessing technique. It made so much sense that I don’t see “coaching” as the correct term for what a lot of coaches do. They perform an important role, but if the athlete has not has a full assessment of movement then, it’s to be sure, a more generic approach. Originally, I was using physical therapists to perform musculoskeletal assessments – and subsequently, some work from Mike Clark led me to what is now more popularly known as, functional movement screening. However, it wasn’t as comprehensive as I needed so I’ve expanded on this significantly. 

*With a coaching career that with as much history as the sport itself, is there anything that makes you say "If I only knew back then what I know now"?

[Marc's Reply:] Coaching and living is a continuum and the joy is the continual learning and expanding on how things are done and how we interact with others. And I suppose if there is any one area I wish I had then that would be “more experience”. Experience is a wonderful feeling and no matter how much we think we know there’s always more to learn. 

*Your coaching model is unique in that you offer services outside the normal template of training plans, bike fits, and group workouts.  Please tell us about some of your offerings.

[Marc's Reply:] I perform “Training Interventions” with athletes and coaches. Athlete’s that are self-coached or working with a coach and from beginner to professional. And I work with just coaches who want to learn how to assess movement and teach mechanics. Every athlete has movement and technique limitations that can be identified and performance enhanced through improvements in economy, reductions in chronic injury and training errors. The Training Intervention (TI) is for every level of athlete beginner to professional who want to improve swimming, cycling and or running efficiency. 

*Swimming is the weakest link for many triathletes.  Can you discuss any key points you look for in the stroke and the common physical limitations you see in athletes that prevent them from swimming with good technique?

[Marc's Reply:] Beyond an assessment of functional movement and stability the key point is triathletes who are not from a swimming background may focus too much on intensity or simply, discount the swim as less important that cycling and running in the overall picture. Masters swimming is a great resource, but I believe there needs to be a compliment of technique orientated workouts and lessons as well. However, alignment and balance are the number one areas many triathletes are lacking. So, workouts emphasizing these areas will go a long way to improving swimming mechanics. The body needs to be long (along an axis) and high in the water from the tip of the outstretch hand to the toes. And this is where many triathletes are struggling. And to some degree this is to do with the legs being a bit fatigued, but the more depth of the hips and legs and greater the drag and the more asymmetrical the movements become. So, learning to establish linear balance and body lines is elemental.

*Do you have any form keys for the run?  What physical limitations typically prevent people from running with good technique?

[Marc's Reply:] In terms of form, the arms and torso  commonly need technique correction. So, we spend a lot of time establishing body line awareness and positioning by using elementary drills that runners can “self-coach” with. The head and upper back too are often, not positioned correctly, but often as a result of instability so we work on those areas as well. Hip stability is (glute max., and glute medius strength) are the more common limiters I see with runners. And this is why assessing function is so important. You cannot simply tell an athlete to do something with form or technique and expect they will be able to maintain that position or movement unless they have normal mobility, stability and flexibility.   

*You've helped shape one of the most admired bike positions in triathlon (Torbjorne Sindballe).  What role does functional movement screening and correction play in your bike fitting process both with professionals and age groupers? (note: Coach Evans produced this video with additional thoughts on this topic http://university.tri-sports.com/2010/08/20/functional-movement-analysis/)

[Marc's Reply:] First, I can’t take credit for Torbjorne’s fit. He was simply made to ride and blend with his Argon18. However, we spent a considerable amount of time assessing his movement and stability and coupling those with running technique and for bike fitting and assessment should be elemental. In his case, it was extraordinary how a world class athlete could have so many functional and stability limiters, but we focused on each and saw great results up until his medical retirement. I see that trend happening now with fitters using more and more sophistication, but a bike fit is not just a set of numbers so, my approach is a bit more intuitive and corrective and integrating the way an athlete moves with the fitting process.  

*I know you have a new book soon to hit the presses...What can we expect?

[Marc's Reply:] Well, the draft outline is 175 pages in length. My hope is to finish a book that stands the test of time and becomes a resource, an encyclopedia for athletes and coaches who want to master technique and assessment movement. It’s a time consuming process (my fourth book) and I am taking care that once published that it becomes a tool for all athletes and coaches to help them become better athletes and coaches.

*Can you tell us about your charitable cause, Honor the Stop?

[Marc's Reply:] www.honorthestop.org is a road way advocacy non profit I started following the death of my client Kristy Gough. We ask people to pledge to, “Obey all roadway laws and honor those who have lost their lives or have become seriously injured”. Individuals and groups can take the pledge online and we have a pledge card that can be downloaded as well.

*Thanks for the interview, Coach!  Keep up the great work.   

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