I'm very pleased to announce a new sponsor for Everyman Triathlon. Mike Ricci is the head coach of D3 Multisport. Mike has been coaching winning triathletes for most of his life. He is both a USA Cycling and USAT certified. He has kindly partnered with me to help support this web site.
Today I'm a huge believer in a hiring a qualified coach. You can spend the first few years of your triathlon career learning the ropes (like I did) by making every newbie mistake in the book, or you can get a head start over your competition by hiring a coach.
To help you figure out what's best for you, Mike has written an objective post on the topic. Take a look and be sure to visit his web site by clicking HERE.
What You Should Look For, and What to Expect
One effective way to stay motivated and to develop a solid training plan is to have a coach. A coach will hold you accountable for your workouts. All of the Olympic Medallists have coaches, as do the top pro triathletes. Is it just a coincidence that they all have coaches? Of course not, they need guidance, support, and direction. They want to know when to go hard, when to go easy and when to take time off.
Having a coach benefits them greatly. Why should age group triathletes be any different? I hear many triathletes say, "I don't want someone telling me what to do" or "What if I don't like the workouts?" or "What if we don't get along?" These are important questions to ask as you interview your coach. Each coach has his/her own style, his/her own philosophy and motivational techniques.
You communicate with your coach, which workouts you like, which workouts you don't like. You explain to them your time constraints and goals. It's their job to take all the pieces of the puzzle and make them fit together. Instead of blowing off that important bike workout because you made another commitment, your coach should re-adjust your schedule so you won't miss the important workouts.
Your coach will know what workouts to emphasize, when to push you, when to back you off. You should be able to build a good rapport with your coach. He/She should be trusted and come with a solid endorsement from other triathletes. Make sure your coach isn't just churning out programs to athletes of all abilities. You want your program to be tailored to you.
What you should look for in a coach. Here are some important factors in selecting a coach:
Q. Is he/she accessible? Do they answer their own voicemail and or email will you get prompt reply?
A. You don't want to wait three days to hear back from a coach when your question needs to be answered immediately. Find someone who is personally accessible.
Q. Does he/she have solid credentials; do other triathletes speak highly of their program?
A. Ask how long the coach has been coaching. Always ask for references or proof of certification. You want to know that the program is going to work for you and ask for a sample program to get a feel for the coach's philosophy.
Q. Do some comparison-shopping?
A. You wouldn't just go right out and buy any car would you? You would look for the best price, color, the best fit, etc. The same thing goes with shopping for a coach. Find out what works for you. As long as you are paying for it, you might as well get what you want. Not all coach's fit all athletes. That is a mistake some athlete's make. Just because it worked for your friend, doesn't mean the same coach will work for you.
Q. Find out how you are to receive the workouts.
A. Do they come monthly, weekly, via email, fax etc.
Q. Does the coach provide one level for everyone or are there different levels?
A. Does the 150 lb athlete get the same workout as the 220 lb triathlete? Does the 15-hour Ironman get the same program as the 11-hour Ironman?
Q. What if I get sick or even worse, injured? What if my job sends me on an unexpected business trip and I miss an important workout?
A. Will the coach make a change in my schedule? What happens to my long-term program? How will this affect your long-term goals?
Here are some benefits a coach should provide:
* Structure. Your program should fit your specific needs. From long easy runs, to gut busting hill climbs to recovery runs and days on the couch. Your program should cover all areas of training.
* Motivation. So what if you have a bad training day and your motivation to train is nil? Your coach should provide you the motivation to get you back out the door the next day.
* Success. Yes, success. Your plan should help you meet your goals. As long as you follow the prescribed plan the program should work for you. If it doesn't, sit down with the coach and ask questions, lots of them. You are paying for his or her help, so you should get answers.
There is a plethora of coaches available to you. Do your research, ask questions and select the right coach for you. Follow the plan. Don't expect it to work if you keep adjusting the schedule or if you keep skipping your long bike rides. You need to work with the plan that you and your coach have designed. I hope you find a coach that fits your needs, do the workouts given to you and go faster next year! You may not win Ironman, but you can have your best year ever!
Michael Ricci is a USAT certified coach. He can be reached for personal coaching by send sending him an email by clicking HERE.