Thursday, February 9, 2012

Do I Need A Coach?

Do I need you?

I have been wrestling with the possibility of adding a coach this year.  I have read several blogs from fellow athletes who  are singing their coaches praises and having a very successful training season .  Here's one.   I have not had a coach since high school.  Back in 1984, there were only a handful of girls on the track team.  We were given the same exact coaching as the boys.  We even shared the same coach.  Mr. Schnell expected a lot out of me, and pushed me just as hard as the boys.  He made me throw the boys shot put and the boys discus in practice.  When I lifted the girls shot put and discus in competition to throw, I understood immediately.  He also had the girls run with the boys.  Even back then, I like beating the boys.

From talking to others who have coaches, I wonder if it would be beneficial for me. I have heard both good and bad stories.  I have a lot of motivation, a lot of internal drive,  I am a self-starter, I can push myself, I am goal oriented, etc... You get the idea.  I am self-taught,  have done my own research, stalked how other athletes train, asked questions of elite folks, etc..  I have been "building my beast", solo style,  for the last four years.  I wonder what a coach could add to this.

Do you have a coach?  A same-sex coach?  What do they do for you, that you can't do for yourself?  Is it worth the money?  What does it cost?  Do they push you?  Do they write out your weekly workouts?  How are you held accountable?   How would I benefit from one?

 I have a lot of events I would like to complete this year.  I am in the research phase and appreciate all your feedback.  Feel free to email me.  Thanks.


  1. Having a coach is great. It alleviates the stress of planning your workouts and leaves you only with the responsibility of executing those workouts and the closer you follow the plan, the more successful you will be. However, this is where it can get tricky.

    You will pay your coach to set up a plan that will have you peak for particular events. Therefore, you cannot be changing your mind all the time and expect to get the most out of the plan. You will have to commit to ~3 peaks for the season. The workouts will be designed to address particular weaknesses and develop particular strengths, thus you cannot pick and choose what parts of the workout you'll do. It's highly structured and for many people this takes some fun out of riding their bikes because it's quite difficult to follow the structure AND do lots of group activities.

    My coached seasons were highly successful, but I rarely rode with others those years, limiting my ability to cultivate cycling locally and I missed lots of social engagement with my friends. Only you can choose what's most important.

    You can still successfully work with a coach even when you need additional flexibility, but you will need to fully communicate your needs or your coach won't be able to help you.

    For example, if you want to ride with your daughter one day a week, tell your coach so s/he can work that into the plan. For example, I often tell people to use their commutes or times they ride with those who are way slower for spin/cadence drills.

    When the weather is foul, a group trainer session can be a great way to get in the socializing w/ a great workout w/o anyone getting dropped.

    But the real key is full communication and commitment to the season's plan.

  2. Wendy, thanks for the link!! I have lots of thoughts on the coaching thing, seriously way more than 1 blog post, but i will email you this weekend. --EK.

  3. Thanks for your input Sydney. You brought up several points I did not consider. I love riding my bike and would not want it to feel like a job. I enjoy a lot of flexibility making my own plan.

    Emily, I look forward to your email. You have had such an amazing year and superior results from your coach. Your blog really opened my eyes to the possibility of having one.

  4. I've been working with a coach for a year now - and it's been amazing. I am the type who needs structure for my workouts - we discussed my goals and what I wanted to accomplish and he built everything around that...

    It's better for me to "answer" to a coach rather than say a friend or spouse...I would rather hear him telling me what to do as I don't hold a grudge or take anything personal.

    Yes, you have to give up somethings, like social rides - but sometimes you can work them in if you know far enough in advance. I also have friends who are training, so I was able to ride with them.

    It's helped my fitness incredibly, which has also helped with my bike handling (I race mtb but train mostly on the road).

  5. Thanks R.E. for your feedback. I train mostly on the road too, so much so I have come to enjoy it and have thought of trying a road race this year. I don't usually plan, I wait to see how my day unfolds and what commitments I need to work around. I am not riding much right now, just commuting. My training starts in March, so I am focusing on core and arms right now.