There’s No “I” in Athlete

From Coach to Couch, Get Support in Your Training

There are a few short word bursts that I practice as motivating thoughts adjacent to Tuesday morning intervals training.



Set your alarm and get dressed according to the weather. Hydrate. Pay attention to temperature, gear details (is it a waterproof shoe day?). Fuel up with some sips of coffee, maybe a light bite. Don’t overthink it, just suit up and get out the door.


Set a time to hold yourself accountable. Meet your people. It could be one buddy or alongside a whole tribe — the support given is mutual. If you’re solo this time, don’t give yourself an excuse to bail. Notice your resistance to commit, to follow through, and show up anyway.


Do the work. Maybe it’s up a mountain or on a track, holding plank, stacking weights or pushing sleds. You can do hard things. You made it this far, so lean into the efforts and train with focus to up-level your results.

I’m an athlete. My whole life has included sports and fitness in some way or another; from a childhood of organized and recreational sports to an adulthood filled with outdoor adventures, my body, mind and spirit are happiest when in motion.

Success in these endeavors is relative, and while I do want to feel strong at my efforts and achieve personal bests, the biggest wins I’ve had are the communities I’ve found.

Being a part of a team, with a coach, was always a positive environment for my improvement as a young athlete, so it’s no surprise that the same sort of systems would work well for me as an adult. I’ve always maintained a lot of group fitness habits, from class-style consistency to reliable running and biking buddies to meet at the trail, but until this year I hadn’t had a coach in going on two decades.

Brett and Tamara Donelson have over 30 years of combined experience in coaching athletes through endurance and strength training programs. The Edwards-based couple are also founders of The Cycle Effect, a local nonprofit that empowers young women through mountain biking. I started working with Donelson Training this past year to get stronger, fitter, faster; I had a mentally of “why not?” more than an ultra-specific “why?” Why not try to dig into the depths of my physical fortitude, mental resilience, spiritual potential?

kim fuller on podium

“Coaches can offer a wide variety of purposes,” Brett Donelson shares. “Some athletes need very specific things and some have a broad range of needs. Some of the needs we have been able to help our clients with are skill development, accountability, injury prevention and rehab, race strategies, goal setting, and mental and emotional support.”

Coaches can help guide an athlete through the very saturated world of health, wellness and athletic information out there, he adds.

“Whether you’re a novice or an elite athlete, a coach can help you achieve your athletic goals and reach your full potential,” he says. “Whether someone has four or 14 hours a week to commit to training, they can be highly productive if it is customized and structured to them.”

My training plan this past summer was focused on mountain biking and trail running, paired with strength and mobility work as well. Workouts were uploaded into my Training Peaks profile (accessed easily via phone app) every week, along with chosen races throughout the summer and fall that became my goals for peak effort and performance.

“It’s hard to look at ourselves objectively,” explains Tamara Donelson. “A coach can customize a training plan that fits your work, family and social schedules. A coach accelerates your progress by helping you make the best use of your time — we’re here for a good time not a long time; let’s work on things that are going to make the most gains!”

And yes, great gains were made. I stood on podiums and shaved off bundles of minutes to mark many new “personal bests” throughout the summer. I certainly felt like I was training smarter, and yes harder too, but I didn’t have to overthink anything — just suit up, show
up, train up.


For anyone like me who may have a hard time resting and allowing for recovery, coaches can help greatly with that too. Rest days are marked in my training program just like workouts.

“Sleep (my favorite) is the most powerful recovery tool,” Tamara Donelson shares. “If you commit to improving your performance, you must commit to prioritizing sleep.”

Pamela Shifrin is a massage therapist and founder of Local Revival in Eagle-Vail. She played competitive softball growing up and into college at the Division I level. Shifrin maintains that massage kept her going for years after injuries that included shoulder operation and a herniated disc in her low back.

“Athletes push the body’s limit every day,” explains Shifrin. “Every day muscles are broken down and need to be rebuilt to stay healthy. Massage assists in the healing, rebuilding process. While the benefit list is large, circulation is the biggest benefit massage has to offer our bodies.”

I see Shifrin for a massage once every three months or so, but each time I visit we decide I should go more often.

“Literally every time we move, we are causing micro trauma to our muscles,” she adds. “Elongating or stretching the muscles, providing protein and providing circulation is how our muscles rebuild and leave us feeling good, strong and healthy.”

Shifrin says she has always wanted to support other athletes in the same way she was supported.

“Pay it forward, if you will,” says Shifrin. “Massage therapy was an option for me and I have been facilitating a positive change in people’s lives for the past 13 years.”

As much as I choose to remain engaged in my training and recovery efforts, there’s a full sideline of support that helps to keep me on track. And on those days when I’m the one blowing the whistle for intervals or meeting a buddy at the trailhead, I’m there to lift up and cheer on those athletes right back.

Visit and and learn more about your own potential training and recovery plan, then be sure to book a massage at