The Power of Coaching and Interval Training for your Brain

My first IRONMAN 70.3!! Not quite a triathlon since the swim was canceled on Saturday due to rip currents, but I’m SUPER proud nonetheless!

🚴 Bike 56 miles ✔️
🏃‍♀️ Run 13.1 ✔️
⏱️ Total time= 5 hours, 18 mins

When I first set out to compete in this triathlon, I didn’t think I needed a coach. All I needed to do, I thought, was challenge myself with a strict training schedule and make sure I kept myself motivated (and hydrated!).

Ann's triathlon and interval training for your brain

I was initially resistant to the thought of working with a coach because I was sure my way would work. I quickly realized I was wrong.

In fact, what happened was I found myself in the same scenario I’ve watched play out with our students for the last 24 years (since I founded Educational Connections).

Many of our kids come to us begrudgingly because their parents are worried about their grades. But once they get in a rhythm with their executive function coach or tutor and start seeing progress, they go from frustrated to confident.

It’s so similar to the journey I’ve had, while training with my coach, to be able to cross the finish line with confidence.

The power of interval training

Would I have finished my first triathlon without a coach? Probably. But I wouldn’t have done it as well!

I likely would have trained by simply swimming for a long time, running long distances, and biking for as many miles as I could pedal. Instead, my coach taught me the power of interval training and watching my heart rate instead of my pacing. I believe that made a huge difference.

Take running for example. Rather than passively running around my neighborhood for several miles at a time until I got tired, my coach taught me to build up endurance and speed through sprint work. I learned to constantly challenge myself by running hard for two minutes, then backing off for four minutes, and repeating the cycle. Or on bridge days, I would run up a bridge as fast and hard as I could, take it easy on the way down, then run back up again.

What is interval training for your brain?

Interval training works well for students, too. I call it interval training for your brain.

When most students sit down to study for a test, they get out their notes and study guide and passively read through them. That’s not the optimal way to study. Instead, it’s best for the student to stay active and engaged while studying. That way they’re more likely to recall all of the content on test day (and beyond!). 

Here’s how interval training for your brain works:

  1. The student gets out their notes and study guide.
  2. They make a blank copy of the study guide.
  3. Then, they fill in the blanks, trying their best to recall all of the info without referring to their notes. If they get stuck on a question, they problem-solve to find the correct answer.

This method can work for all subjects, including math. Students should challenge themselves to solve new math problems, rather than just skimming through previously solved equations in their notes.

When a student simply reads their notes to study, they might earn a decent grade. But when they interval train for the brain, they’re mastering that knowledge and have a higher chance of earning an A. 

Having someone consistently challenge you and cheer you on makes a difference

I needed help to learn the most effective ways to train for long-distance running, cycling, and swimming, just like many students need help to discover the most effective ways to study. Coaches are experts at making clients step outside their comfort zone to try new things. Sometimes new strategies stick and sometimes they don’t. But chances are when you are challenged, you’ll work harder to find a system that works.

Having consistent support and someone cheering you on and measuring your success can also make a huge difference, whether it’s in sports or at school.

Before competing in my first triathlon, I ran a few half marathons. During one of my races, I made a wrong turn while following a pack of other runnings. I felt so discouraged when I realized my mistake that I turned around and started walking. I thought I had ruined my chances of meeting my time goal. Then I remembered something my coach had instilled in me about, “mind over matter.” I started running again right away, quickly got back on track, and ended up placing really well in my age category.

I now realize everyone, including me, can up their game by working with a great coach. And all students, not just those who are struggling, but also those who want to excel in the classroom, can benefit from having an expert by their side.

How confidence breeds success

My coach taught me how to reach my personal best. And here at Educational Connections, we’re passionate about helping students do the same while reaching the finish line each school year and on graduation day! Whether it’s learning to read, acing Algebra, or standing out during the college application process, our team is here for your family each step of the way. 

Our tutors and coaches know how to best motivate kids to overcome academic obstacles, reach goals, and discover a love of learning. They make tutoring and coaching sessions fun and engaging and are always there to offer feedback and help address challenges. Best of all, the lessons kids learn from a great tutor or executive function coach, help them stay on track in between sessions and even for years down the road. 

I know the lessons from my coach will stick with me when I compete in my second triathlon later this year!

Take the next step and have your child matched with a caring and experienced tutor or executive function coach. We can help your child cross the finish line this school year and stay on track through the summer!

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