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Artists vs. Scientists...which type of athlete are YOU?

When I was listening to Pete Jacobs' victory speech in the back parking lot of the King Kam Hotel after the 2012 Ironman World Championship, the first thing that came to my mind was that this guy is one emotional dude. He kept talking about racing with love, heart, feelings and emotions and even told everyone in the crowd to ignore the numbers when racing. 


In this day and age of technological advances that allow us to track our training and racing down to the very last heart beat, watt or kilojoule, we have this guy winning the Ironman World Championship because he raced with love. 


I was imagining the flood of emails I was going to get from the athletes I coach: "Pete Jacobs told me to forget the numbers...I'm selling my power meter tomorrow!"


Thankfully for me, as a more data-driven type of coach, that never happened. But it got me to thinking about the different types of athletes with whom I work. 


For the sake of brevity, I'll break it down into two main types; scientists vs. artists.




*Prefer to know EXACTLY what to do from a pace, power and time standpoint. They don't do one more/less watt than is prescribed, not one second over/under the duration for any given workout.


*Upload training data within five minutes of completing a workout.


*Leave feedback like "felt good, no problems"..."missed the target by .19 watts."


*Act like robots. Give them a task and they perform it without question.




*Frequently go off script with training. 30-minute run? "I ran another hour because I felt good."


*Provide 2-3 paragraph verbose synopses of every workout. 


*Will go several days before providing training data/feedback. 


*Use the phrase "slave to the numbers" repeatedly.


There's usually some sort of combination of these traits with most athletes. What camp would you put yourself in? What are some other characteristics that you would list under each type of athlete?


As a coach, it's both challenging and fun to work with the different personalities that exist with the athletes I coach. Not only are the athletes themselves a mixture of art and science, but so is the coaching process. 


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