During the winter months most triathletes and endurance athletes are slowly building back the motivation to get back to training. During this time many athletes reach the point where they want to take their goals to the next level for the coming season. This is where the question pops into mind: Should I hire a coach?
Experts in the endurance world will tell you if you want to truly take your performance to the next level, you need a coach. I would like to make the point that there are pros and cons to hiring a coach. Believe me, I have been on both sides of the fence as coach and as a triathlete being coached.
PROS OF HAVING A COACH:
You have complete piece of mind by having your training plan laid out. Before I had I coach I always questioned if I was training correctly. With a coach you don’t have to worry about this and can focus more on your prescribed workout.
Emotional support. A good coach will be on the phone with you before your race, being there for you to take on the challenge. I always tell athletes there is a difference between writing training plans and coaching. A coach is there to support you and be with you on the journey towards your goals.
Equipment advice. When I first started doing triathlons I spent around $5,000 a year on triathlon equipment. I wanted to be faster therefore bought fast wheels, sleek aero-bars, and other equipment. After hiring a coach I not only got faster without fancy equipment, but SAVED MONEY. My coach cost around $2,000 a year and through the advice of my coach I stopped buying the “best of the best” equipment and simply got the most out of what I already had.
Expert guidance. When doing a challenging endeavor such as a triathlon, marathon, or a bike race it goes way beyond your ability to keep going. Making the littlest mistake such as not eating enough fuel can leave you lying on the racecourse disappointed. A coach’s job is to avoid this from happening. Through expert advice, a good coach will bring you to the race, confident that it will be a good one.
CONS OF HAVING A COACH:
You have flexibility to control your training. Most age-group triathletes are busy with kids, work, and dozens of other life demands. Being self-coached can be good thing as you control when and how you train. If a last minute situation comes up, its not that big of deal. You can simply take a rest day and adjust your training accordingly. Often coaches lay out a week or month of training at a time and last minute changes can affect the rest of the week or month
You have greater mental toughness and self-motivation. By coaching yourself you have to hold yourself accountable for getting out of the door for a workout. Having no one there to guide you every step of way builds mental toughness and soon you learn exactly how to motivate yourself.
Ultimate self-communication. One the largest barriers between a coach and an athlete is communication. Often time’s athletes don’t know how to communicate how they are feeling. As a self-coached athlete you know your body better than anyone else and can listen to it.
Self-coaching is free! When I first got into triathlon at 19 years old I simply didn’t have the money to hire a coach. Triathlon is expensive sport. For beginners buying a bike, running shoes, and other equipment, the cost quickly adds up. Not to mention most half and full ironman distance races are between $200-700 just to enter. Some people simply can’t afford a coach.
WORD TO THE WISE:
Whether you choose to hire a coach or coach yourself I recommend having a plan. Your year, month, week, and daily workout should all have a specific purpose. Always consider hiring a qualified coach for a consultation or to help you plan your season. This can provide you with expert guidance and only costs between $60-200. I’ve coached many athletes that like to coach themselves but just need help every once in a while and hire me to create a 12 week plan for them or just answer their training questions. As my old Navy Chief would preach to me when I was active duty in the military: “If you don’t have a plan, plan to fail”.