Triathlon Coach Jim McGehee – Do What You Love

From Elizabeth Parsons:

Triathlon coach Jim McGehee It’s been over seven years since Jim McGehee, a Giles County, Virginia family man, athlete and business owner - priorities listed in order of importance – went full-time with his high-speed business, One-on-One Endurance.

“It started with one client,” the USA Triathlon Certified Coach told me, who now coaches up to thirty individual athletes at a time, training folks as close as the New River Valley of Virginia and as far away as the Cayman Islands and England.

“Coaching and parenting is my full-time gig. If I wanted to, I could be even busier, but I choose a lifestyle that keeps my family's lifestyle intact," Coach McGehee said.

Coach McGehee’s recent qualifications include a Master’s Degree in Exercise Physiology from East Carolina University and, prior to that, a seven-year stint as an NCAA Division II Cross-Country Head Coach at Bluefield State College.  He’s one of the passionate personalities behind the inaugural New River Valley Triathlon planned for July 2010. And being primary caregiver to a set of six-year-old twins means clients can rest assured he’s  a pro at the fine art of time management. A lifelong runner and athlete, Jim studied biology and came out of college as a teacher and athletic trainer.

Coach Jim McGehee walks the talk - and swims, bikes, and runs it, too."In the mid- to early 90s, I came up with the idea of a coaching business for triathletes and athletes. I've never done any real advertising," McGehee said.  Instead, clients hear of his enthusiasm and results by way of word-of-mouth referrals.

McGehee's clients – among them champion triathlete Crystal Pruitt – are typically young to middle-aged professionals with a particular goal in mind such as completing the Boston Marathon or an Ironman competition.  They have discretionary income to spend – “lawyers, engineers, financial people, etc" – their athletic dreams trail a close second behind career accomplishments, and they willing to invest in success for a monthly fee.  In return he combines his experience and expertise with a savvy command of technology to create, and track, detailed and ever-evolving training plans  for clients using GPS technology, power meters and Web technology such as TrainingPeaks and CompuTrainer.

“Once they hit the save button, I’ve got TrainingPeaks set up so it sends an immediate email to me and I can  upload all their GPS data – what their heart rate was, what the elevation profile of the area was… It’s as good as or better than a coach who is standing right there with them as they train.”

Coach Jim McGehee - arms overhead - at a recent Half Ironman Jim is one of those lucky guys who does what he loves.  The money is good – but it’s secondary to the satisfaction he derives from helping others, and he’s OK with that. So is his wife of 22 years, Nancy McGehee, a Virginia Tech professor and sociologist.

"The best way that Jim's career adds to our family life is that the kids and I have a happy husband/daddy. Jim truly enjoys his work, and a happy Daddy makes for a happy family," Nancy said.

“I’m not in this for the buck, honestly," Jim said. "My goal is to keep a balance of what works best for me as an athlete and for my family.  I’m a coach and I’m proud that I’ve found a way to make a living, to contribute to my family’s well-being, and to live the way I want to live. I’m lucky because Nancy has a great job and because she feels the same way.”

As we spoke via phone one overcast morning, I heard a child’s voice in the background. Jim’s daughter had presented him with a drawing. “That’s beautiful, Gracie!” Jim exclaimed joyfully.

Do what you love. The money will follow. Indeed.


Coach Jim McGehee's company, One-on-One Endurance, and Handshake 2.0 are sponsors of the New River Valley Triathlon.


Elizabeth Parsons is a seasoned editor, writer, and communications professional.  You can follow her on Twitter at @e_claire_p.

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  1. Thanks for the post Handshake 2.0! Yes, I am extremely excited about the 2010 New River Valley Triathlon. This will be a great way to spend an active summer morning and will certainly become a show case event for the NRV area!

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