Smart Athlete Podcast Ep. 16 - Zack Hamner - COACH BY EXPERIENCE - Part 2 of 3

Yeah, but to me, it seems like the best coaches, how they come about to this point varies, but it seems like not only do they know the physical side okay, we need to do this kind of workout to work on your lactate threshold, and we need to improve your max power doing this.

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JESSE: Yeah, but to me, it seems like the best coaches, how they come about to this point varies, but it seems like not only do they know the physical side okay, we need to do this kind of workout to work on your lactate threshold, and we need to improve your max power doing this. And lots of coaches know that, but it seems like the best coaches to me have developed some way to have insights into what's happening with their athletes mentally. And oftentimes, at least in my opinion, it's the people that have raced at a high level and dealt with like their own demons, and figured out, okay, this is how we get past all these things that are kind of chomping at our minds, to not go faster, for whatever reason. ZACK: Yeah. And that was something that I felt like I had talent in because I had been there and I'd struggled through a fairly long, low and pro-career and knowing that it's a lot less glamorous than you kind of see like in people's Instagram's, or in magazines. There's a lot that goes into that high performance. And so young athletes tend to a lot of times to get caught up in that and be like, Oh I got to be doing all these workouts and this and that, and just, it's great for a few weeks, and then they kind of get burnt out, and their performance suffers. And so it takes a lot of kind of coaching to be like every session is just a piece of the puzzle, and no one piece is greater than the one before it or after it. So, keep that in mind and try to reinforce that in every athletes head. I coach really on consistency. So, one session is not going to be okay, this is our key session, if this doesn't work out, we might as well kiss that race, goodbye, that race result, it's more about us just make sure we can do all these workouts for the next six to seven months and do them well. And maybe we don't hit every single one. But if we hit the vast majority of them, we're probably going to be in a good spot compared to somebody that is relatively lackluster. And then they hit that key session four weeks out from a half Ironman or something. And then they go and perform and they just haven't quite built up that consistency and that mindset of mental toughness. So, having that kind of confidence in just your repeated performances and workouts is really, really key for especially collegiate athletes because they're balancing so much that I've gone a lot more-- I've gotten away from a lot of those kind of like killer, the great simulation type workouts to more just consistent, repeatable sessions that we’ll do day in and day out. And just turning over the gears and grinding for weeks at a time is really what’s going to yield the most success in Endurance Sports versus those kind of blow out of the park, mega race simulation key workouts. JESSE: So, if you have like an athlete coming in, that's like super exuberant, they've seen Lava or they've seen whatever triathlon magazine ?? 3:20> was on the cover, and they're like that's what I want, they're ready to go. How do you like rein that exuberance in into the consistency that you're looking for? ZACK: I think it's-- a lot of it is really, it's, that's pretty tough to do, especially athletes that are like 18-19 and maybe they have like a season under their belt. And now they start to really kind of love the sport and see what's going on. And they're like, man, I'm really excited, I want to do, everybody-- every triathlete has seen the Jan Frodeno and Tim Don videos on YouTube, but where they go out and work out four times a day, and they probably trained for like 10 hours. And they see those workouts-- that's what I have to be doing to be a pro to compete at the highest level. If they don't see the thousands of workouts that will lead up to that one session day. And so it comes down to kind of bring them back down to earth, so to speak, and get them a little more excited about just the process of becoming faster and becoming better at triathlon versus getting caught up in the hype, if I can put it that way. Like I said, a lot of young athletes fall into that. But all age group athletes tend to fall into that category as well for that matter, but over time, as long as they kind of have confidence in my coaching, I'm able to kind of bring them back to that, okay, we're going to do this workout, this workout this week. And maybe they're all going to be great. Maybe one will be bad. Maybe one will be good. Maybe they're all be terrible, but I'm gonna get through them. And no matter what happens, I'm going to get through that week, and I'm gonna come out the other end mentally stronger. Sorry about that. I’m gonna come out mentally stronger at the end. JESSE: Yeah. Yeah. Somebody’s trying to get your attention, apparently. ZACK: Yeah. Yeah, I've been so busy this week with work. JESSE: So, what I was curious about, did you go to UC Boulder, was that right for undergrad? ZACK: No. So, I actually went to a school called Metro State in Denver. So, ?? 5:46> there, had goals of being an air traffic controller. And then started getting really into coaching, decided that after graduation come back to San Diego that I want to kind of build something up on the coaching side, miles looking for a job. So, built up the kind of small coaching business with a friend. And then kind of just through word of mouth was able to find-- and a friend of mine was able to get me a job in finance while I was kind of-- and I kind of initially was just making that as like this will just be my interim job while I look for something potentially in aviation and really start doing the finance side of stuff. So, now here I am a year and a half later in a finance job where I coach on the side. It was a pretty dramatic shift from where I initially thought I'd be five years ago. JESSE: I mean, why leave finance, finance pays well? I mean, is that...lure of coaching? ZACK: Yeah, no, it's definitely, it was keeping the finance-- Staying in finances is definitely kind of the goal now and I really love San Diego. Yeah, it's hard not to so I really would like to stay here and continue the coaching and continue the finance job. And hopefully, just continue building up coaching if I can over time. I really want to one day potentially work for like the NCAA level too if that ?? 7:21> San Diego State or UCSD or some other school within a few years. But right now I'm really just kind of enjoying life. I'm really busy, but by and large, I'm having a lot of fun just doing what I am now. JESSE: Yeah, the reason I asked about Bowler, I guess I just got that messed up. But you know, if you got roots in San Diego, my head is like, well, you're into triathlon. So, why are you leaving San Diego to go to Colorado? Like there's enough triathletes where you already are. You're like, no, I don't like that sunshine. I'd rather have ?? 8:02> in the air. I'm just trying to figure out how that transpired? ZACK: Yeah, so like, I really, I went to community college for a year and a half here in San Diego, right, when I graduated. But I wanted to go into aviation and unfortunately, they didn't have that here at any school in San Diego. So, that was a big-- that was the number one factor initially. And I could have gone to probably two or three other schools, but I was okay, I could have gone to somewhere else in the country, I could have gone to Colorado. And well, Colorado is pretty good for triathlon and I was just getting into triathlon at that point, really kind of continuing to try to make that pro leap. And so I knew a coach that I wanted to work with as well that was also in Boulder. I lived in Boulder for two years. But I went to school in Denver, so I kind of commuted two days. So, that's where the confusion came. Yeah, so if they had the program I wanted to study here in San Diego, I would have definitely stayed. But didn't work out that way. And I was definitely happy for my time in Colorado. It was it was a blast. I've learned a lot, I trained really hard and got really fit. But in the end definitely want to come back to San Diego for the sunshine and just the same reasons I'm still here. JESSE: Well, makes sense. Like I said, I was like, in my head San Diego is just beautiful every day. And then I feel like stereotypes don't come from nowhere. So, probably a kernel of truth there. ZACK: Yeah, definitely. You pay for it though unfortunately. JESSE: Well, everybody wants it, so then the ?? 9:41>. So, I mean, how do you-- Obviously, you're not doing anything with the aviation anymore. But like, we know what got you interested in that as a kid, what says okay, I want to be like an air traffic controller? Did you do I’ll say like internship but did you shadow anybody? How do you get started thinking about that? ZACK: In high school, I wanted to be a pilot in high school. That was my first kind of love and passion was in aviation and wanting to be a pilot. So, really, really hardcore pursued that through high school and into college, wanted to go to initially, to the Air Force Academy, didn't get in. And then just decided to continue studying aviation. Had talked with a lot of pilots at the time, so I actually learned to fly. This, I guess this is another little side note. I learned to fly before I learned how to drive, actually. JESSE: Did you go through enough hours to get your pilot's license or--? ZACK: No. I actually I was in a program called the Civil Air Patrol, I did when I was a teenager. And so they send cadets to a flight Academy. And learned, you get I think it’s like 10 or 12 hours of flight instruction, top of like ground school over like two weeks. At the end, if you've trained well enough, you get to solo and aircraft. So, I did that when I was 16. I went to the middle of nowhere in Nebraska to do that. So, went out there, did that, really fell in love with flying and that was what I wanted to do for a long time, and still really want to get back into that as a hobby and as like my personal passion. But at the time, the economy wasn't really, really, really good for pilots, and the aviation and airline industry in general. So, talking with a lot of people, before I moved out to Denver was like this career is going to be really hectic, and it's not going to pay well, and you're going to get really, really, really in debt to go pursue a career that probably pays 35 to 40,000 starting as a pilot for a regional airline. So, really just didn't quite-- kind of got turned off by that a little bit with the extra commercial flying side. And so I decided to look into air traffic control and found that I did enjoy that a lot. But that was a little bit still in aviation, but just a little different step. But still, even now I still want to go back at some point to aviation and continue flying. But the price and the cost, the barrier to entry is really, really high. I mean, the theme of really high expensive hobbies; triathlon, flying, kind of just persisted. But I kind of had to make that decision to put that off to the side because I still really enjoyed flying. But I haven't done much of it in the past couple years. So, that was kind of the start of that went into, went to Denver to study aviation air traffic control. And then coming back home still plan on getting a job in aviation, fell into finance and then all the while I'm doing triathlon. So, that's kind of the whole timeline from 16 to 26. JESSE: The short version of the last decade. ZACK: Yeah. JESSE: So, I know like, you've probably heard this before, I remember what the movie is but there's some movie or maybe it's multiple movies where like, you're on a flight and like the pilot’s knocked out for some reason the stewardess comes back and says, “Can anybody fly this plane?” Every time you get on an airplane are you like, is this like a daydream going through your head like I'm gonna save this plane? I'm going to save this plane and be a hero like do you think about that? ZACK: I get asked that question all-- like my co-workers at work when they find out that like, oh, so if like we were flying to some city and the pilot died, would you be able want to land the plane? Yeah, I mean-- JESSE: I'm going to be a hater. I'm gonna say I don't think you're capable just because those cockpits are so crazy. I'm just asking if you dream about. ZACK: Oh, no. I definitely don't dream about it. I mean, flying an aircraft like that would be awesome. But yeah, you're definitely not the first person to ask me that question. I got that pretty regularly for the past few years when anybody finds out that, my background. JESSE: It's special, there's something special about flying, man. We're land based creatures, we shouldn’t be flying ?? 14:38>. ZACK: Yeah, it's funny how that how it ends up kind of working out with the people that I talked with. That's always-- that's one of the first questions they ask is like, oh do you own your own plane? No. Oh, but could you land this airliner? Like, well, I could try it. I think I could. I think I could. I know enough about the-- What was that? JESSE: Sounds like it’s just from the autopilot to get you to the destination ?? 15:03> to do is land it. ZACK: Yeah, nowadays planes are very, very automated. And the chances of that happening are really slim to begin with. But yeah, I-- JESSE: The are out. ZACK: Yeah, yeah, exactly. In my head, I'm always like, I could do it. But you know, I'm just gonna say, yeah, I think I can. Maybe, maybe not. In my head. I always tell myself, yeah, I got it. I got this. JESSE: I feel like this ?? 15:34>. I mean, if the scenario came up, where somehow you find yourself trying to land a commercial airliner, and you don't do it correctly, you're not going to know that you didn't do it correctly. ZACK: Yeah, exactly. Yeah, that's true. That's very true. So, I might as well take my shot. JESSE: Well, if it’s between me and you, and who's going to try to land this thing? It's not going to be me. ZACK: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. So, I mean, yeah, it's a good point. But yeah, still got a really big passion for aviation, just haven't done a lot of it recently. But still, at some point, I'll be back in the cockpit, hopefully flying pretty regularly again. Probably not commercially, I - really gone away from that dream, just the way the nature of the industry. And now working in finance-- My goal now is to work in like aviation finance, like aircraft - and management. So, that's kind of like, the end goal, career wise now it's more into like, aircraft leasing and-- JESSE: Yeah, fractional ownership and-- ZACK: Yeah, yeah. JESSE: It sounds like that's the perfect ?? 16:53>. ZACK: Yeah. And if I can keep coaching on the side, then I'm going to be living my best life. JESSE: Nice. I mean, do you get antsy when you see airplanes going overhead, and you're like, need to be up there like-- ZACK: Yeah. I work probably about, it’s got to be only three or four miles away from Miramar, the Marine Corps Station...Top Gun. And so every day, I'm in this office. It's not a cubicle but I’m in an open concept office, and I sit at my desk, and every-- a couple times a day, you hear the big, the FA teams going by really loud, and they shake the whole building. And it's always like, ah, yeah, that sounds like a blast. But those guys are, even the military is a whole different route as well. So, having to go to war and defend the country, and that's a whole different level. At this point in my life, I think I'm past that and past-- I mean, the passion is still there. And it's definitely I'd rather sitting in the cockpit of that jet than in this office, but also I would really like to continue doing the triathlon on the side. And I know that like the military in particular, going overseas, being an active duty would not allow me to do that very easily to continue the coaching. Obviously, couldn't continue coaching at the university. So, that's something that I really do have a passion for that to continue doing that. So, if I can find a way to do all three of these, then I'm sitting pretty. But for now, I'll settle for the two. JESSE: That's fair. I think you said earlier, you had applied to the Air Force Academy? ZACK: I did. Yeah, I applied. I was decent academically in high school, but hindsight, I definitely was not at the level that the Air Force Academy needed, in terms of like a GPA. But just-- and if I wasn't going to be going to a school like that on a full ride scholarship, I was going to be going to college anyway. So, it wasn't that big of a blow not getting in because I knew I still want to pursue aviation and I'd find a way in somehow, and that ended up being Colorado. So, I got to kind of really foster the triathlon side of my life and still study the aviation stuff. JESSE: So, you have to excuse me because I don't know anything about anything. I don't fly anything. But to me, it seems like there's kind of a divide where like, people either want to learn how to fly a plane or they want to learn how to fly a helicopter. Do you have any desire to learn how to fly a helicopter? ZACK: No, not really. I mean, it would definitely be a-- If someone offered me like, we’ll pay for you to learn how to fly a helicopter, now you can be a helicopter pilot; I definitely wouldn't say no to that. But if I’m given the choice, I'm taking the plane for sure. It's a whole different experience. And I've been on a helicopter a few times but it's a very different-- it's all obviously the same aerodynamic principles and whatnot, but the actual controls and the operational side of it is a little different. And I just didn't have as much of an interest in that. ?? 20:12> helicopters only go so fast. I like to kind of go fast in the air as well. So, yeah, I just kind of-- I definitely was more in the fixed wing side of aviation for sure. Go to Part 1 Go to Part 3

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