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There’s More Than One Way To Skin A Cat (9 Questions for Siri Lindley)

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February 8th, 2012


Coach Siri and an unkown mountain goat.
Coach Siri and an unkown mountain goat.
Coach Siri and Calvin
Coach Siri and Calvin

“There’s more than one way to skin a cat.”  I know that this means there are several possible ways of achieving something, but I’ve always wondered about the origin of this idiom.  I can’t imagine that there are more than two or three actual ways to skin a cat, which is quite a few less than several. And besides, as everyone knows – a cat has nine lives.  Therefore, even if there are several ways to skin a cat, chances are decent that our feline friend may come out of the process okay.  With this in mind – sort of – and in honor of skinless cats everywhere – I’ve come up with nine questions for some of my athlete friends, that illustrate there are plenty of ways to achieve success in sport and in life.  I hope that their answers help you find your own way.

As an athlete, Siri Lindley was proof that hard work, dedication, passion, belief, and utter commitment to one’s chosen path could bring about success that would cause outsiders to shake their heads in disbelief.  To insiders, however, and to a degree, Siri herself – I’m sure the outcome was no surprise. 

Siri’s results are a product of the aforementioned traits, and others that I’m surely missing.  As Siri has transitioned from student to teacher, her coaching results indicate she has found a way to instill these traits in triathletes seeking to get the best out of themselves.


1. Triathletes are often considered Jacks-of-all-trades, but a master of none.  What are your thoughts on this perception?  I think we all start out having at least an interest in all three disciplines but you have to start somewhere. I stunk in all three, but I fell in love with the sport of triathlon. I decided that no matter what I was going to learn how to swim, bike and run, and do everything to achieve the seemingly impossible dream that fueled every minute of my every day.

As a coach, my goal is to have athletes first of all work on their weaknesses, to the point that they become a strength – while not forgetting the other disciplines. Achieving excellence within ourselves is the goal. Not winning a certain race, or winning a world championship – but I tell them, “Let’s see how fast you can go! Let’s see how fit, how strong, how fast we can get you!!”  So the goal: work towards mastering all aspects of triathlon.  But really, is there a point when you master it?? The sport continues to get faster – we will always be searching for more!!

2.  With regard to training: quantity or quality?  Definitely quality – but the right kind of quality. This is different for every single athlete. My goal is to get to know each athlete as well as possible – know what motivates them, what inspires them, what challenges them the most, how their bodies react to different types of sessions, how they respond mentally to different challenges, how they recover from different types of training, what brings out the best in them. Through this process of learning about them, while they learn about themselves - we come up with the perfect recipe for that individual. What recipe will bring this person racing to their utmost potential? When we find a recipe that works, that is when it really gets exciting!!!

3.  When you were winning the World Championships and dominating the World Cup, did you strength train, and do you recommend strength training for the athletes you coach? No, I did not, although I did do a lot of “sport specific” strength work in all three disciplines – whether that be paddles and pulling in the pool, riding hills, running hills etc. …  My coach was not a big believer in the strength trainer. Seeing as though I believed in him with all my heart, I listened to him and did as he told me to do. I still believe he is the greatest coach on the planet … but I have just found that strength training, within the structure of MY program, is a key aspect.  Therefore, I recommend strength training to my athletes.  We have a very specific plan that we follow and I believe in it entirely.  Again, however, it takes different forms for different people.  So … it is not just one plan for everyone – it is a plan for each individual.

4.  What type of diet did you follow, and what type of diet do you recommend to your athletes?   I never took any types of vitamins, or mineral supplements. I just relied on eating a very healthy diet – lots of fish, poultry, vegetables, healthy grains, fruit and water.  I feel so blessed that I had an incredible relationship with my intuition.  For example, I would be hammering out mile repeats on the track and craving steak and milk. This was my body telling me, “Tonight, you are going to eat meat and get lots of calcium!!” My body needed it and that is how it told me – with cravings. It did try to trick me sometimes – craving carrot cake and ice cream … but I knew when to call its bluff!!  Haha.

I recommend a similar diet to my athletes.  Although, again - everyone is so different.  I have some gluten free athletes, athletes with certain allergies, athletes who can’t eat dairy … so we find out what their bodies respond to best and go from there.  The key is eating healthy and giving your body what it needs.  Our bodies will work so hard for us day after day.  All it asks for in return, is to be treated with respect – thus being fed and hydrated and provided the things it needs to regenerate and come back even stronger the following day.

5.  How do you balance triathlon and the rest of your life (past and present)?  That’s a tough one. “My name is Siri Lindley and I am a complete workaholic.”  I love my job. It is my absolute passion. I wake up every day, and I can’t wait to get to work.  I feel so blessed to feel this way about my job. My athletes are like family to me. When they come to me, their dreams become my dreams and I want nothing more than to help them achieve them!!

This past year was the absolute hardest year in my life personally … but having a job that I adore and athletes that inspire me and make me laugh every single day … made it the best year ever as far as my job goes. So I feel very lucky. Very blessed.

It is so important for me to show my gratitude for the life and abilities that I have been blessed with. I believe the best way to do this, is to use the abilities I have to the utmost each and every day. To be the best that I can be for my family, my athletes, and the big guy upstairs, each and every day.
To me, that is showing my thanks in the best way I know how.

6.  What do you love most in life?  My mom, pets, athletes and my passion ( my job!).

7.  What is your dream job?  I’m doing it. Again … I feel so blessed, so privileged and honored to have a hand in helping these amazing athletes achieve their dreams.

8.  What is the most inspirational sporting moment you have witnessed or experienced?  I feel I get to see something amazing nearly every day. My athletes do things that just give me goosebumps.  They show such courage, such determination, such strength … if you really want me to answer this question, we will be here all year.  Sport moves me in every way, inspires me, and is such a great lesson for life. I honestly believe that my experience in training and racing, and in large part due to the type of training my coach put me through, is what has helped me get through the toughest times in my life – as has watching my athletes.  For instance – Ironman Arizona, 2011 – Leanda Cave gets a flat coming out of transition heading out onto the bike, fixes it, has another issue, turns back, gets that fixed, and then heads off with a look of unrelenting fire.  She goes on to have the race of her life, breaking 8:50 and running under 3 hours for the marathon – winning the race.

Mirinda Carfare, Ironman New Zealand, 2011 – two flats, pouring down rain – she loses 30 minutes, but gets onto the run and starts putting time in, and gets all excited – totally running beyond what she was capable of for that time of year, and ran her way into 2nd place.
Chris Foster, St. Anthony’s, 2011 – steps on a shard of glass, rips his foot open about 3 inches deep – blood pouring everywhere – rides incredibly strong, hops off his bike and has the fastest run split or maybe 2nd fastest out of a huge field of amazing talent – landing him in 10th place. He needed about 40 stitches – crazy stuff.  He was in agony but the boy never, ever, gives up!!
That’s what it’s all about … believe in yourself … never, ever give up and know that when we persevere, and we never lose hope, we will always find our greatest power within!!

These are 3 examples of oh so many that I can speak of… and those just involve my athletes.  I am constantly inspired and moved by the great athletes in our sport, the challenged athletes, the older athletes, every single person that does Ironman … so inspiring.  I will never ever lose my awe for all of them!!  I am constantly moved by all the athletes in so many sports.  We all are part of a big family who are driven by movement, challenge, and discovering life through sport!

9.  Finally, and most importantly: How do you like your coffee, and how much coffee do you drink on a daily basis?  I used to drink coffee all day long, but it didn’t help my anxiety problems!!  Haha!!  So, now, I drink 3 cups in the morning with Coffee-mate Hazelnut creamer.  I love it so much.  I can’t wait to wake up and have that first cup and get my day going!!
Thanks Jimmy!! That was FUN!!

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