Welcome New Coach Aaron Scheidies


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Aaron Scheidies is a USAT Level 1 Certified Coach and licensed Physical Therapist. A graduate from Michigan State University with a degree in exercise physiology, Aaron has coached world champion paratriathletes as well as IRONMAN World Championship qualifiers. While at Michigan State University, Aaron was the President and Founder of the MSU Triathlon Club and he also played an integral part in paving the way for future growth in the sport of paratriathlon. Aaron is an 11-time World Paratriathlon Champion and has set the World’s fastest time for anyone with a disability at both the Olympic (1:57:24) and Ironman 70.3 distances. (4:09:54). After focusing on cycling in 2015-2016, he is now among the top-5 visually impaired cyclists internationally.


Watch Aaron's "Road 2 Rio" Video to learn more about him


Aaron is based out of Seattle, Washington, where he lives with his wife, Brittney, and two dogs, Ret and Gunther.


You have had such an amazing athletic career. Why become a coach? What drew you to that?

I started thinking about coaching as I was going through PT school, because we were really learning how to teach patients about their injuries, prescribe exercises, and develop a program for them. So coaching is very similar to that – you are teaching, giving a program, monitoring, and making changes based on feedback. With my exercise physiology degree and physical therapy license, I was able to be successful as a self-coached athlete. But in 2014 I began working with Coach Mark Sortino and have gained a tremendous amount through that relationship.

As my own high-level athletic career winds down, I find myself more interested in helping others to perform to their maximum ability. I relate well to people and enjoy guiding them toward goals.


What types of athletes are you most interested in coaching and in which sport(s)?

Naturally I have an interest in working with paratriathletes, and those in the PT5 visually impaired category. Beyond that, I would like to work with any triathlete at any distance. I’ve raced every distance  from Sprint distance through IRONMAN, including 70 halves and over 200 sprint and Olympics. Add to that marathons and cycling, and I can coach toward any multisport goal!

(Interesting aside: Aaron coaching tendencies date back to college where he wrote workouts for the Michigan State Triathlon Club and then continued in Grad School where he taught an intramural beginner triathlon class at the University of Washington in Seattle that met twice a week for two hours for 10 weeks, culminating in a local triathlon.)


How would you describe your coaching philosophy or approach to coaching?

Flexibility and balance. As a coach it’s important to remain flexible, to be willing to arrange and work around the athlete’s constraints and life schedule. It’s very important to keep it fun and help triathletes to maintain appropriate balance in life and relationships. Athletes need to learn to turn triathlon on and off – turn it on to focus, then turn it off again!

One of my strengths is helping athletes with their mental game - the psychological aspects of sports performance. This can be a big issue for some athletes, and I can help untangle that.

As a coach, I offer my athletes my experience as a world class athlete and a physical therapist, a fun atmosphere, and everything I have gone through to develop resiliency and overcoming obstacles.


Being a physical therapist -- does that mean you do a better job of attending to things like stretching and bodywork or are you just as bad as most of the rest of us? What are your top recommendations as a PT for staying healthy and injury free?

I’m just as bad or worse! Over the last six months I have been pretty good because I’ve been dealing with some injuries. I can’t say I am the ideal model all the time.  I live a go-go-go life and I will admit that sometimes I don’t take time to do some of the recovery things that I should do.

My top recommendation for injury prevention is balance. You become prone to injury when you pound the same muscles the same ways all the time. Mix up the modes and the intensity! Include functional strength programs for glutes, low back, and core as a good foundation, particularly in the off-season but maintained during race season. If you are not very flexible, stretching and range of motion is good to work on. I’m not a believer in volume for the sake of volume; even at my level I train on average just 10-12 hours a week.  If you are training for Ironman or Half Ironman you will need some longer weeks to get your body able to tolerate the distance but there is a belief amongst that endurance world  that you need to train much more than you really do.


What are some lessons you have learned about what makes a good coach from Coach Mark and other coaches you have trained under over the years?

For the maximum benefit of working with a coach, you need to be able to tell your coach everything – bad or good – not hide things! If you did more than you were supposed to, you are only hurting yourself if you don’t tell your coach what you did. A coach is such a good accountability source for your goals.

Good coaches know how to work best with their athletes. For instance, Coach Mark will write workouts at a slightly lower intensity than he wants because he knows I’ll overshoot it. He is flexible even when I’m not right on the program. I take it seriously, it’s not that he’s slacking, but if I diverge it’s either because logistically I can’t do it (particularly if I am reliant on a partner or pilot) or the body isn’t ready for it. Coach Mark is a great sounding board, and not everything we discuss is directly related to training but are things that could influence it. Athletes and coaches should be able to relate on all levels, and a coach should not be afraid to tell you when you are way out of line.

A coach guides an athlete on the path to success; a coach is not a controller of the path.


You've had a long career in triathlon (and also marathoning and cycling now). How do you keep it fresh, and keep your motivation high? How do you help your athletes to do the same?

I take it one race at a time, and I change things up. For me it has worked well to do some marathoning, and triathlons, then some cycling. It’s good to change the focus. Change can extend even to an individual training session – we keep it fresh with a variety of efforts.

In addition, I take time to pull myself out of the triathlon world – travel with my wife, turn it off. It’s important to take your mind in and out of triathlon and training.



What's next for you this year, and beyond?

My plan was to shift focus from my own athletic career after Rio toward my physical therapy work and coaching. Since I am not going to Rio (see this blog post recapping the PT5 exclusion from the Paralympic triathlon; see blog post on trials for Paralympic cycling.) the timeline has moved up a bit. I’m 34 years old and it’s questionable whether another Paralympic opportunity would come along. The VI sport class is extremely competitive and the future talent looks strong!

I’d like to develop a group of Team MPI athletes in the Pacific Northwest, create a paratriathlon camp for visually impaired athletes, and contribute to the continued growth of paratriathlon.


Coach Aaron can be reached at aaron@teamMPI.com.

Learn more about Coach Aaron at his website: cdifferentwithaaron.com/, or follow him on Facebook or Twitter.

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