Coach Spotlight - Karen Parnell from ChiliTri

Coach Spotlight is our special series where we feature one of the coaches around the world that makes Training Tilt possible.

Today we have Karen Parnell from ChiliTri.  Karen is doing what she loves for a living, coaching in Malaga, Spain.

Karen started her coaching career as a club coach in the UK and over a few years, progressed through the ranks gaining Level 1 & Level 2 British Triathlon qualifications alongside her Personal Training certification.

She then decided to turn her passion into a profession and left her job as a marketing director for a large engineering company and started coaching full time.

She went on to gain her Level 3 coaching qualification and became an IRONMAN certified coach which enabled her to move to Spain and start her own coaching business.

"I now live in Southern Spain and coach face to face, local athletes, on camps and virtually on Training Tilt. I get to coach wonderful athletes at all levels and ages from all over & no two days are the same. If like me your passion is coaching then don't hesitate to make it your profession. As they say, if you do what you love for a living you'll never work a day of your life!"

Karen Parnell Coaching

What would you say is the greatest success you've experienced building your coaching business?

My greatest success was athletes booking to come out to Spain for coaching year after year. They love the setup, the location, the personal one-to-one coaching and when they get home the continued support via Training Tilt.

What would you say is the greatest failure you've experienced building your coaching business?

When building a business when things are going well you naturally migrate to larger numbers but sometimes this may not be the best idea. I tried to run larger camps but it started to not feel like it was in the early days so after a lot of reflection I reverted back to smaller camps which are 100% bespoke. This is where I feel I can give the best service and give my athletes the coaching, advice and experience to help them meet or exceed their goals.

How would you describe your ideal coaching client? and why?

I love to coach people who are new to triathlon and are aiming for their first event whether it is a Sprint race or an IRONMAN event. I like to help them develop their strongest discipline and improve their weaker legs. Everyone is different and every training plan is bespoke to fit their goals and home/work/life situation.

Helping them prepare for the event, watching them put the swim, bike and run together and earning their medal is a real privilege to watch. If I can't be at the event I attend the online race briefing and then I watch the race trackers to see them finish each leg and literally jump for joy when they cross the finish line.

How do you think your coaching peers would describe you?

Athlete focused, amiable, well versed and skilled on everything triathlon and fun!

What are your coaching philosophies? and how did they come about?

I like to work with my athletes to meet or exceed their goals based on what they enjoy and what time they can commit. The training journey can be long but this needs to be fun, rewarding and part of their home or family life. The race or event is the cherry on the icing on the cake and the journey to that day should be enjoyable & rewarding. I want my athletes to keep enjoying training whatever their age and feel good about their achievements.

When did you start coaching and why did you decide to become a coach?

I started club coaching back in 2010 after transitioning from running to triathlon. I got my first coaching qualification in 2011 as a Level 1 British Triathlon Federation Coach. I loved competing but also loved to coach people to their first triathlon so they could feel the same sense of elation crossing the finishing line of their first event. I wanted to develop training sessions that were effective and fun plus make sure athletes were strong enough to train and race.

What do you think makes a good coach?

I believe that a good coach is one that acknowledges their strengths and their weaknesses. They can build on their strengths and offer the best one to one coaching in these areas but not be afraid to ask for help from fellow professionals to help their athlete meet their goals. When I tutor other coaches I always advise that they build an ecosystem of trusted professionals they can call on to help their athletes be the best they can be. This list could include physios, massage therapists, dietitians, nutritionists etc. Don't be afraid to ask for help and build a strong team.

Here is some underwater footage from one of ChiliTri's TI swim camps.

You can learn more about Karen and ChiliTri on her  or on Facebook at the ChilliTri Facebook page

I'm lucky to also be a tutor for British Triathlon which I think I forgot in my bio. I really love passing on my coaching experience to new coaches.

Want to learn more? Schedule a 1 on 1 demo


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