Thursday, May 27, 2010

Why I (YOU) need a triathlon coach. (overview)

Yesterday I was perusing the blog-o-sphere and came across a question that I have asked myself many times. Matty O over at Staying strong and positive was questioning a training plan that he has been following (for a couple of days anyway). He wrote, “I feel that the training sessions I was doing before I started this program were MUCH more well rounded and intense than this program recommends. … Do you typically add more mileage or time on your workouts across the board? I feel that I am slacking pretty hardcore now and yet I say, this is what the plan says I need to do???”

I have written a number of training plans for myself and for others. But when it comes down to following the training plans I always want to add more – more intensity, more volume, more speed, more reps – you get the picture.
Time to get a pair of coaches shorts

This is so short sighted. As self-trained athletes we only see the workouts in front of us. When I have used generic training plans I have rarely even looked past the current day much less the current week. I certainly have not looked at the entire training plan. I do not take into account all of the thought that has gone into the plan. Even in the simplest of plans there should be a base, build and a peak to prepare you for your A priority races.

Now when I follow my plans I always forget (disregard) why I have put these steps in place. I have a group of cyclist that I love to go out and hammer it. I have a group of runners that I love to go out and smash it. It is hard for me to have the discipline to not DO IT ALL – everyday. It is hard for me to take recovery into consideration. I have a bias when it comes to my training. I believe that I know best on a day to day basis but I am not looking at the big picture.

The times that I have followed a training plan, and I mean really followed a plan has been few and far between. But this is where I have seen the most progress. This is where I have done the best. It takes discipline and trust to follow a structured plan but the rewards are great.

To be fair, Matty O has only been following this plan for a couple of days and it may indeed need a lot of tweaking. It would appear that his current fitness is greater than the new plan recognizes.

It would be much easier to rely on a coach to make these training decisions for you. A coach can put an end to all of the second guessing. They can tailor the training plan to your lifestyle – your strengths, weaknesses, likes and dislikes. You just have to get up and just do the workout.  The training and the workouts are the easy part.

A good coach should provide the following (I did a quick brain storming session and put these in alpha order - I will elaborate on these in coming posts):

Goal Setting
Race strategies
Race weight management
Sounding board


Caratunk Girl said...

I totally agree with what you are saying - but I don't have a coach. I follow a training plan and you have to be really disciplined and when you are only accountable to yourself, it is easy to fall off the plan. Having a coach would be a huge benefit for sure, I just don't have the $ to spend on one. I was thinking of asking for coaching for a holiday present next year.

I usually look at the week quickly, so I know I bike/run today, or swim/bike tomorrow - but as far as looking at what went into the plan or looking further than a few days...not so much

Jon said...

I have used a coach twice. Basically it was to get me from one distance to the next. Once I got to the HIM distance, I was able to take over from there after I did a lot of reading on periodization, training load and recovery and looking back at what my coach had me do over the season. I think if you educate yourself enough, you can go it alone.

Now when I do my first full Ironman, I am going back to a coach, because that is uncharted territory for me.

Matty O said...

Great post! I appreciate the insight and elaboration. Since I have never followed a structured training plan for triathlons, I have a lot of doubts and questions. My biggest fear is that I will not be prepared ENOUGH for the HIM in July.

That is why I want to go out harder and longer than they recommend so that I know I am more than able to complete the race. That being said, I also know that I followed a running plan for the marathon in April that I ran, and I smashed my PR by 25 minutes... Its a hard balance to maintain and I have trust issues.

You have also mentioned my other issue, I do feel that I chose a training plan that may be below my training ability. That being said, I will continue to use it and stick to its structure since I obviously don't have much experience to base my feelings off of. I just don't like that I feel fresh after my "workouts", my competitions this year will be a good gauge with what is working for me.

Thanks again for your response, I will link your blog tomorrow so that everyone can see your series of posts!

PUMP AND RUN! Good luck!

Mel-2nd Chances said...

Great, great post! It is hard to have that trust. I'm training now with a tri group, the coach himself is an Ironman, training for his second. Once the season is over, and depending on how the season goes, I'm considering asking how much he charges to coach one on one.