>Over the last several weeks, the TriMadness coaching series has focused primarily on rendering advice regarding how to pick a coach, what to expect from a coach, and more. I suspect that many of those articles were targeted for only about half of you.
Why half? My research (including the TriMadness coaching survey – here) indicated that roughly 50% of triathletes use a coach. The remaining 50% don’t.
So why did I write a series about coaching if only 50% of the folks who read it will actually use the information I wrote? Well, partially to give those who change their mind and decide to hire a coach some ammunition to use in their decision making process.
Let’s go back to the second post in this series – actually the first post with “real content”. I started off this post by including several potential reasons why one might hire a coach: “Perhaps you’re new to the world of triathlon and you merely want to understand how to train for an event. Perhaps you’re an already accomplished athlete, and you’re looking to qualify for a USAT national championship. Maybe you want to win your age group.”
While these are certainly valid reasons to consider hiring a coach, coaches don’t have a monopoly on personal bests. They don’t dole out Kona spots or entries into national championships. Heck, they don’t even guarantee that you will perform at a certain level (even though if you ask any coach, they will tell you your chances of a personal best are better if you use a coach).
The fact of the matter is that self-coached athletes can perform very well.
Asking the coaches
So would you be better off without a coach? I asked several coaches if there were any athletes that would not benefit from having a coach, and the responses were interesting. A couple indicated that stubborn, highly opinionated folks would be better off without a coach. Others thought that those who couldn’t trust others to come up with a solid training plan would be better off without a coach.
Coach Ben Grenefield summed it up very well by saying, “Highly independent and educated athletes who have an incredibly difficult or busy schedule may benefit more from simply planning out their own workouts.”
Why consider self-coaching
Whereas in the first post in this series, I described what I call the four pillars of coaching as un-coached, self-coached, off-the-shelf coaching, and relationship coaching, in reality, I generally lump self-coached and off-the-shelf coaching into the same grouping. My rationale? The motivational aspects of both of these styles are quite similar. The relationship model affords the opportunity for a coach to give feedback and motivation; the others rely on you as the motivator. You are accountable only to yourself (and whatever support system you’ve built). For some, having the extra accountability related to having a coach is a requirement; for others, this is less important.
From a quality perspective, often times the preparation one can derive from a self-coached model is just as optimal as from a coaching model. The key is execution. Self-coached models often incorporate periodization, build periods, peak periods and quality tapers. These are the same principals that coaches follow in building your workout plan.
Having the flexibility and ability to move workouts around is often a factor that is seen favorably. By preparing your own plans you have the flexibility to alter your workout sessions to fit your schedule without requiring pre-planning and guidance from a coach. This level of flexibility is often appealing, especially in circumstances where one’s schedule is highly changeable or crowded.
Finally, one aspect of self-coaching that cannot be avoided is the cost. As we outlined previously, coaching can be expensive. Self-coaching is generally no or very low cost. The off-the-shelf model does involve some cost, however, those costs are generally much lower than the coaching model.
In Thursday’s article, we’ll examine potential sources of information for self-coaching as well as some locations where you can find off-the-shelf coaching plans.