We had a customer at the store yesterday, who came in and asked a question that almost all triathletes-both professional and amateur–have festering in the back of their minds: “What can I do to get better?”
“I have $75 to spend,” he said as he approached the counter and took out a few crisp bills. “What in the store should I buy that will make me faster? I am a middle aged man with three kids, a mortgage, a full time job, so time is precious. Is there anything that I can get to shave time off my A race next spring? I am not looking to go pro. I just want to get better.”
He gazed around at the expensive bikes and fancy equipment. “Maybe a new wetsuit will help or that P5. Is that thing really $10K?”
“Put away your money,” I replied with a smile. “The thing you want is a special order item, but it is guaranteed to take minutes off your next race times, make training easier, and ensure that you have plenty of time for your wife, kids, and your job.”
He seemed intrigued and leaned closer.
“Get a really good coach.”
“What? Aren’t coaches expensive?”
“Not as much as you think. And it’s worth it! Let me explain…”
In my opinion, getting a coach is one of the best investments athletes can make. I have tried to train myself with disastrous results. I designed what I thought was the perfect training plan and three weeks into it I was already overtrained. The problem with this method was that I thought I could do more than what my body could take. I wanted to be a pro so I designed a training program that was (what I thought at least was)like one with 25 hour weeks, 5k swims, and 20 mile runs. Trying to do all this training on top of my job and life responsibilities was impossible.
When I tried again the following season I purchased an online training program and developed a stress fracture two weeks before my race. The plan was developed for the majority of athletes and not personalized to my individual needs and strengths. Moreover, I felt that I had to do all the workouts and if I missed one because my schedule or health got in the way, the program would fall apart. There was no flexibility or objective feedback.
I finally broke down and decided to get a coach, a decision I will never regret. With a good coach, I got a truly individualized approach that worked with my strengths, weaknesses, available time, and other responsibilities. Since I was already a strong runner, my coach designed a program that put a larger emphasis on the swim and bike.
Moreover, it was a schedule that fit with my own. After talking with my coach, I could move workouts so that I could do them when I had time. If I got sick, I would email her and she would move the schedule and make the needed accommodations so that my fitness did not suffer. If I was on the road for a trip she would give me special workouts that I could do that matched my resources and access to running routes, treadmills, gyms, and pools. She also provided a good deal of priceless psychological help. Whether I was down because of a bad workout, nervous before a big race, unmotivated, or really excited about my improvements, she was always a phone call away to provide all the feedback, encouragement, motivation, and support that I needed.
A common question is whether online coaching is a good option and it is for most people. Online coaching has become a lot easier with the advent of software like trainingpeaks.com and Skype, through which a coach can communicate with athletes, post workouts, monitor progress, and the analyze training. Even in swimming where it is nice to have a pair of eyes to watch you, you can take videos of yourself (we will show you how–it’s easier than you think) and have them analyzed like what we do at Triswim coach (and no, we do not post them to YouTube or blogs for people to make fun of you).
Then there is an issue of price. Yes, a coach is more expensive than a one time payment to get an online program, but does the online schedule meet your needs? Is it flexible? Does it provide feedback? Does it care about your goals? There is no “buyer’s remorse” when you get a coach. No guilt that you are doing the wrong thing. Trust me. If you want to see improvements and be the healthiest, fittest and fastest triathlete that you can be, a coach is the wisest investment you can make.
And now here is your special offer:
If you are looking for a good but affordable coach, I HIGHLY reccomend, Sandra Dalles of http://marathonhealthandfitness.com/. I started out with her and I can honestly say that she transformed my training and made me into the athlete that I am today. Mention that Chris Hague referred you and you may get a better deal.