Originally from Esbjerg, Denmark, Adnan Kadir grew up all over the world. By the time he moved to Portland in 1997, Adnan had already spent a year biking throughout Europe and living his passion of road racing. Now 44-years-old, Adnan has competed in over 600 races and is an endurance athlete coach as well as an entrepreneur. He trains endurance athletes from all over the globe, which include cyclists, mountain bike racers, triathletes, and runners. In addition, recently Adnan has co-created a new type of human performance software, called VeloPro. This software is the first of it’s kind to help manage athletic performance using a dynamic training program that keeps track of goals, history, and workout data. Despite his success, Adnan was extremely modest and even bashful amidst the interview, often saying, “It’s weird to talk about myself!” I had the opportunity to find out a little more about his coaching career and his new business venture, VeloPro.
So, what was your childhood like?
It was excellent. We lived in different countries and states, and my parents have always been a supportive and positive force in my life. They encouraged my siblings and I, to pursue what we wanted, without judgment. My parents always encouraged us to be active and to try our best. When we lost, we weren’t given medals anyway – we had to earn them and we learned the difference between success and failure. More importantly, we learned the importance of failure in building success.
Were you an athlete growing up? What were you involved in?
Sort of. I played soccer, cricket, and little league baseball. I was ok at the first one, average at the second, and pretty good at the third. I liked playing catcher – it’s where the action is! Less formally, my friends and I split time between BMX and skateboarding. When one wheeled object broke, we rode the other.
What first brought you to Portland?
I was in graduate school in the Midwest. After that, I really needed to leave, and Portland seemed full of opportunity.
When did you start getting involved in endurance training?
I started formally coaching people in 2003. It was by accident, really. A close friend and mentor, who is a respected coach, wanted me to become a coach as part of his group. One day he called and said, “There is a guy in Portland named Tom who wants a coach. You’re his coach.” So, I got my act together and started my new profession. Tom is still a good friend and a critical beta tester for VeloPro – new training software I’ve developed.
What inspired you to become an endurance athlete coach?
I realized that, as cycling grows in America, the mentorship-based club system that used to teach riders the basics – training, drafting, bike handling, etiquette – is going away. As a coach, I have an opportunity to educate riders who want to improve.
I have nearly 30 years of racing experience in many different countries. Also, I am a USA Cycling Level 1 coach. There are only around 100 of us in the US, and the requirements and testing to get there are rigorous. As I write this, I’m on a plane to Colorado Springs, where I do my bi-annual Coaching Continuing Education.
How has your education throughout your life influenced what you do today?
My formal education doesn’t have a lot to do with it. Racing in the collegiate division in college was great, though. As students, we all had similar lifestyles and restrictions on our time. So, it was a lot of fun and a relatively even playing field, so to speak. It was a great introduction to the racing side of cycling.
What areas of endurance training interest you the most? Why?
I’m most interested in performance prediction at the moment, as it has a great influence on what we do at VeloPro. Our system is science-based and on the cutting edge of technology.
What kind of clients do you deal with?
I coach all kinds – road racers, enthusiast riders, mountain bikers, cyclocrossers, and triathletes. They come from all walks of life and many parts of the world. Every year I coach one athlete who shows dedication, potential, and drive, but cannot otherwise afford a coach, for free.
How is your approach to training different from others’?
I don’t believe that science is everything in coaching. You have to understand the human side – how the athlete thinks, how they regard themselves, and how they are motivated. I feel that a lot of coaches don’t take the time to understand their athletes in such a way. I think the best coaches do, though.
Endurance training requires both mental and physical elements, how do you focus your training on both of those aspects?
It’s important to balance both. One affects the other and every athlete is different. It takes about one full season of coaching an athlete before you really know how they work and what works and doesn’t work for them. Sometimes athletes come to me asking me to motivate them, but I can’t do that. Bike racing is very hard, and you have to be motivated from within. I can help athletes find that inner motivation, but I can’t give it to them.
The big one, obviously, is VeloPro. In the meantime, I’m always doing experiments on myself, training-wise. I set protocols, different balances of training and rest, and measure how they affect me. As I get older, I have to keep doing this, as one’s body and mind change. Finally, I volunteer on the board of directors of our local bike advocacy organization, the Bicycle Transportation Alliance.
Why do you do what you do?
I do it because it is deeply rewarding and because I love to challenge myself. Starting VeloPro took me far out of my comfort zone, and onto the world stage. That’s a challenge, believe me!
Where do you want your career to go?
I’d like to continue to develop as a coach, and move more into doing private camps in warm, sunny places. More immediately, I would like to see VeloPro grow and realize its potential. It’s amazing software and we’ve only just begun.
What advice do you have for others who want to go into your field of work?
Be humble. Just because you’re an accomplished athlete doesn’t mean you’ll be a great coach. Study your craft, and approach it with humility and an open mind. Oh, and check out www.VeloPro.bike!
Adnan currently resides in Portland with his wife. Besides riding bikes, he enjoys traveling, drinking coffee, looking at pictures of baby pandas, and brewing his own ginger beer in the summer. In addition, he runs cycling camps in both Italy and California, and occasionally hosts private ones as well. Adnan will continue to coach and ride, but he says one of the most satisfying things about his job is helping people create something they’re going to treasure for the rest of their lives. However accomplished that Adnan is, assisting others in their goals is what he finds truly rewarding: “It’s nice to help people accomplish their dreams.”