I know having a coach is a luxury… it’s another expense to what is already a ludicrously and painfully expensive sport. I get that, and I am definitely not saying that you NEED a coach to do well in this sport. Personally, I think having a coach is one of the best investments for the most return over all of the other crazy gizmos and gadgets you could be spending your money on to improve.
Towards the end of last year I started working with a new coach, if you follow me on Instagram then you’ve probably seen me complain about Coach Craig a few times after some tough sessions!
Admittedly, I’m probably one of his more difficult athletes to coach (he would definitely agree). I have been very inconsistent as work is here there and everywhere at the moment… I frequently skive swim sessions and I almost always over-train on recovery weeks. Even writing this a message has just appeared from him saying “first week of no reds from you on training peaks’… LOL.
This is actually a similar post to what I have written before… but two years later and I still feel the same, whatever my goals and how they’ve changed.
I once messaged Craig from my Wattbike having a tantrum about an FTP test that I just couldn’t seem to do. Craig finished work, came to my house and basically got me to do it (he did call me a drama queen and tell me to pull myself together of course). Realising I’m not very good at motivating myself for FTP’s, the next time he met me at the gym at 6:30am to do the same. I really don’t think you could ask for more from a coach in terms of motivation! Some days, some sessions, you just really don’t want to do it… having a coach can motivate you to do it, or give you a pass out when they know you need it!
Just because you’re a fish in the water and super speedy bike and run, doesn’t mean you can put together a good training plan. Coaches generally have expertise in a whole lot of other aspects to the training (nutrition, recovery, injury prevention, race tactics etc..) Craig is constantly researching and going on extra courses, experimenting (like that time he helped me adjust to humidity in a hot yoga studio), and taking data. He analyses my training peaks every week and makes adjustments as necessary.
Even with a coach I manage to over-train, so gods knows what kind of chronic fatigue mess I would be in without one! Craig really takes my numbers seriously and is pretty non-negotiable about my easy weeks… even resorting to FTP hell blackmail sometimes hahah! Training for multi events is stressful enough without also having to think about putting together sessions and when to do them… it really is nice just to open an app and see what I have to get on with.
You do the parts you avoid
We can all be guilty of swapping certain swim drills for leisurely lengths (or in my case, swapping swim altogether for a gym session!), not doing tempo sessions, avoiding hills etc. It’s human nature to do the things we like and avoid the bits we don’t! When a coach writes these into your plan, you are definitely more inclined to do them! This is the first year I have ever worked to Watts – and even after my first block I saw a huge improvement. I have always been super scared of numbers and data, but thanks to Craig I’m actually starting to find myself motivated by my scores and improvements. It’s reassuring to have measurables and also really handy to see when they’re not where you expect – showing signs when I’m over-doing it or maybe a little under the weather!
Like I said, it’s not essential to have a coach when training for a triathlon… but good ones certainly help!