It’s been 3 months into the new year and athletes have had a chance to assess their goals and where they stand at.In a lot of Facebook groups that I am part of, there is plenty of discussion about coaching – do I need a triathlon coach, is a coach worth it, when to hire one, recommendations for a coach, etc.
The world of figuring out coaches and finding a coach can be overwhelming and confusing (unless you are someone who makes decisions much quicker than I do). I went through this 3 years ago and wish that I never have to go through it again! After sifting through a ton of information, I’m sharing some tips in this series.
First up –
Do I need a triathlon coach?
Before you read any further into if you need a coach – Can you afford one?
Triathlon coaches cost anywhere from $100-250+ a month, a running coach can range from $60-150+ a month. If that is out of range, there are plenty of other options including the ever popular Be IronFit training plans. I’ve seen plenty of people fret that they cannot afford a coach. Don’t fret. There are other ways to get to your goal, even if it’s slightly longer/harder.
If you can afford a coach, do you REALLY need a coach?
When I decided to sign up for Augusta 70.3, I was so overwhelmed that I would start hyperventilating – and I hadn’t even signed up yet! Being an almost newbie and very very very slow, I was very nervous about missing cutoffs. Everytime I’d think ahead to the race, I’d respond in the only way I knew – to try to swim more and to try to run more and to cry over not knowing how to ride – and this was 15 months before the race! So I got a coach who worked with me through long term and got me physically and mentally ready for my big day.
That was me and my sore driver in hiring a coach. There are plenty of other reasons why a coach might be a good idea.
1. Do you have trouble fitting it all in the time you have?
There’s work, family, kids, and everything else around them. It can be a challenge to find the time to work out much less determine what type of workout to do. A coach’s long term plan takes into account your real life and maximizes the time that you have available to train by getting you to train smarter.
2. Do you have trouble being accountable and motivated?
Coaching provides accountability. It’s difficult to slack off or procrastinate when a third party is involved. I have no motivation issues, but where I saw the biggest gains was in believing that I could achieve my goal with the hard work I was putting in – and that had been lacking in my previous training (after the disaster of the 2012 Chicago Marathon).
3. Are you taking on a challenge that is *just* out there?
Maybe it’s a new event or a distance or improving your performance or some other challenge. Whatever it is, whether you are an experienced athlete going for a podium or a beginner learning the ropes or just wanting to improve yourself, a coach can help with a structured plan that will maximize your performance for your goals.
4. Do you like to discuss progress and bounce ideas?
True, you are doing the workouts a coach gives you, but you also have questions and ideas. Having a coach look up your data helps avoid second guessing – am I doing too much or am I doing too little? This also has a huge advantage in helping prevent injuries by pushing you just enough and not run yourself down.
5. Do you need a reminder to look at the big picture and keep it real?
Whether it’s your first or fiftieth triathlon, it’s easy to get excited to train and set expectations. Or go in the other direction and think the worst of every training day. A coach can see the big picture and factor in reality so that you can maintain an achievable goal as well as improve in order to get to the next possible goal.
I will never forget the countless texts I had with Coach Mike – both with him encouraging me and one brutal text where he said that if I didn’t start taking racing seriously, I was in danger of not meeting my goal at Augusta.
I loved having a coach for those 2 years and if my current financial situation changed, I would go back to having a coach in a heartbeat.
What are your thoughts on a triathlon/running coach?
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