Trainer helps people achieve their goals |

Trainer helps people achieve their goals

Jeff Caspersen
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Chad Spangler Post Independent

CARBONDALE, Colorado ” With her clipboard in hand, Ashley Naegele barks out times and asks her pupils for heart-rate readings.

It’s all part of grooming them to become better at just one of the three disciplines they’ll employ in upcoming triathlons.

If anybody can hone their abilities in the water, it’s Naegele, a former Olympic hopeful who’s dedicated her life to the sport of swimming ” as an athlete in her heyday and now as a performance coach and founder of Carbondale-based Mindful Sports.

Naegele’s adding a new wrinkle to her company, which helps athletes tackle the mental challenges associated with sport.

That would be triathlon training.

And she’s paired up with some high-caliber Roaring Fork Valley athletes to deliver expertise-rich instruction to those seeking to better their triathlon performances.

Carrie Messner-Vickers, an Olympic track and field hopeful who narrowly missed out on a trip to the 2008 Summer Olympics in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, doles out running tips and Ute City Cycles owner Darren Broome is behind the cycling training.

It all started innocently enough.

A few friends asked Naegele to train them this summer and it took off from there. She went on to assemble a top-shelf coaching staff and lightly recruit members to the team.

Training and competing under the name Team Mindful Sports, Naegele’s operation has morphed into a go-to spot for triathlon training.

“It fills a special niche,” she said. “It’s been really interesting.”

Naegele notes that the 10-athlete team features athletes of varying abilities and goals. Some chase benchmark times, others seek age-group titles and one is just looking to make it through a triathlon.

There is one desire that surfaces with every member ” a thirst for competition.

“Some are collegiate athletes who are doing this because they love competition,” Naegele said. “It fulfills a competitive desire, which is great.”

Doug Britton’s always been a runner. Self-admittedly, he’s also always been a terrible swimmer.

Enlisting with Team Mindful Sports is helping him change the latter.

“I’ve always been terrible at swimming,” said a smiling Britton, who’s been training with Team Mindful Sports for a month or so. “They’re kind of reeling me in. I’ve been training by myself for two or three years. When I first got here, I’d swim 25 yards and I was dying. Now I can do 100 and feel OK.”

Britton, originally from Pennsylvania, broke into the triathlon world a couple years ago. More than anything, he liked the cross training aspect of the multi-discipline sport.

“With swimming and biking, your body doesn’t take a pounding as you do with running,” he explained. “You can train with a different workout every day and eat what you want. It’s a good way to stay in shape.”

Megan Noonan ventured toward triathlons ” and to Team Mindful Sports ” for reasons similar to Britton’s.

“My acupuncturist said I should do some cross training or I’d break down,” she said. “I used to do half marathons. It’s nice having different kinds of workouts now.”

Noonan, who’d always trained independently, enjoys the structure and motivation provided by expert coaches. That’s why she signed on.

“I’m definitely more motivated,” she said. “Ashley’s very helpful. She’s good at pushing you. I’ve already had races where I’ve improved my times.”

Same goes for Britton.

“It’s nice to have advice, structure,” he said. “I used to just go out and run ” like, ‘OK, I’ll do eight miles today.'”

Sherri Harrison is the team’s lone first-time triathlete. She joined in pursuit of a personal challenge and found just that.

“I’m a 40-year-old woman who decided I need to start working out,” she explained. “It just kind of evolved over this year. I was just getting back into shape, wanting something more of a challenge.”

And it’s a challenge Harrison’s relished. She completed her first triathlon in Leadville on July 13. That won’t be her last one.

“It was the most amazing feeling, to know that I have that experience under my belt,” she said. “To know, wow, this is something I can do.”

Broome most enjoys coaching newbies like Harrison, helping them realize exactly what they’re capable of athletically.

“They start out feeling like it’s something bigger than they are, and it’s neat to watch them realize it’s not that big of a deal, not as hard as they think it is,” he explained.

Messner-Vickers shares that outlook.

“We’re there to help, but mostly it’s fun to see people learn,” Messner-Vickers said. “It’s fun to see them utilize what we’re teaching them and improve, whether it’s their self image or physically.”

Although a myriad of backgrounds color the Team Mindful Sports team, workouts are drafted on an athlete-by-athlete basis and all benefit from individual attention.

“Everybody gets different workouts as much as possible,” Harrison said. “When we ride, we ride together as a group, but someone not as advanced, like me, may not have to do something as hard. They try to structure it to our levels.”

Regardless of skill levels, athletes never fail when it comes to supporting their teammates.

“I think it’s a great way for people to achieve their goals, but also there’s a positive social aspect to it,” Naegele said.

“We really do become close knit,” Harrison said. “I’m just beginning, but there are people that have been doing this forever and everyone does encourage each other. I’ve never been made to feel like, ‘Oh gosh, you’re holding up the group.'”

While most Team Mindful Sports triathletes train and compete in different events, all will be on hand for the October Pumpkinman race in Las Vegas.

“That’ll be a real fun one,” Harrison said. “We’ll take the families and make it a little getaway.”

And having fun is among the top priorities for Team Mindful Sports.

“People get along great,” Messner-Vickers said. “They all learn from each other, and that’s what we want ” for everybody to have fun and learn how to get fit.”

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