5 Reasons why you do not need, absolutely don’t want, and should have nothing to do with Triathlon / marathon coaching
Lots of your friends and competitors may tell you about the improvements they have made with the assistance of their coach. They may have tackled longer distances, improved PR’s, or simply added consistency to their routine. Don’t believe them for a minute.
Here are the top 5 reasons why you don’t need a coach (in no particular order). In the spirit of fairness, we have let a crazy coach respond.
You know you are completely objective when it comes to you. You can look at yourself and your workouts and see yourself exactly as the world sees you. You know if you are feeling a little sick that you are just being weak if you take the day off and recover. You know if your foot is bothering you it would be set you back and not run, let it heal for a few days; much better to get out and run extra hard on it to teach that foot a lesson. When you sit there and look at the power numbers or the speed you just biked you know it was a little better than last week but not enough of an improvement so time to double up on extra hard workouts.
Coaches response: Very few people can be objective about themselves. Most athletes tend to be very hard on themselves and when they are tired or injured instead of seeing it objectively label themselves as lazy or weak and then pound themselves into the ground. A good coach adds in the objectivity and can help that athlete see what they are really doing and how just doing more and going harder may be very detrimental.
Doing all of those workouts is fine, but today there is a really good football game on so I am going to blow off that run. After the game there is a really good movie on tonight and I need to get some extra work done so I will just not make the pool in the morning. I know I shouldn’t miss those workouts, they are key, so I will make them up later in the week or early the next week, or just add them into one of my other workouts. I don’t need to do the work day in and day out, just as long as I cram it all in at some point, like the way I used to study for exams. It all worked out.
Coaches response: Absolutely the worse way to be ready for a race is to try and “cram” in all those extra workouts into the end of one week, beginning of the next week or onto other workouts that may have a very different goal intended then the one you are just crowbarring in there. Your body will not respond to crammed in workouts the way your head did for an exam. That would be like running all day for 100 miles the day before a marathon thinking that would put you in good shape to run a marathon. What your body responds well to is well structured, CONSISTENT workouts that have purpose and build towards something. Of course we all miss a workout here and there but the most accomplished athletes have a plan and stick to it. This is where you coach comes in. Not only are they helping you craft this plan but they are making sure it is something that you can and will do on a consistent basis.
You know everything to know about training that you need to know. What you don’t know you can click around and find the answers on that interweb thing. All the answers are right there, all you have to do is click on it and read what ever is on there. If it is on the Internet, it must be factual.
Coaches response: A good coach has a wealth of knowledge that they have accumulated over many years of actual experience and experimentation. A good coach has had good coaching and understands the value of good coaching and what that can mean on many different levels. This coach continues to grow his base of knowledge through research and continued experiences. A really good coach also knows that it is impossible to know everything and when they come up against a question they don’t know the answer to or a situation they have not experienced before they have the right resources to find out the right answer. There is a tremendous amount of information on the web and so much of it is outdated, wrong, or just not applicable to you.
4. Accountability / Motivation
I don’t need to be accountable to anyone. I am an island. I have all the motivation I need! I want to finish this long race of course.
Coaches response: Many people don’t need a coach looking over their shoulder every minute of everyday like big brother, they will get their workouts in, most of the time. There are just some days knowing that someone else is going to be looking at that log that can just motivate you to get out of bed and to the track or to the pool, or to go that extra 2 or 3 miles on that long run you were just going to shorten because it is so hot. It can also be helpful when you know someone is going to be looking at your heart rate data and seeing that this easy recovery run is turning into a contest between you and your group of friends and you are much closer to all out than recovery and you did a track workout yesterday and risk going really deep today which will affect the workouts planned for over the weekend. A coach can help you tone it down when you need to, and make you accountable for what you are doing.
I am new to this sport. I am not good enough, or fast enough and don’t know enough to have a coach.
Coaches response: What? I hear that frequently and to me the opposite that is true. As a new athlete you can get the most out of a coach. You are an open book and if willing to learn you can make that learning curve almost a straight line up. Coaching can help you avoid all the trial by error and the common pitfalls newbies fall into. You more than anyone can gain from a coach’s guidance and experience. A plan is a fine thing but without that coach to help guide you through it, when to deviate from the plan, can be a great way for the new athlete to injure themselves.
Peter Russo has been racing and coaching triathletes & runners for over 30 years. For more information, www.r2tri.com or 401-286-2865