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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi, I just started a new training plan and was wondering what input people have regarding coaches and what to expect from them. Do any of you bug your coach everyday, or load training peaks with every nutrition/metric thinking that it might help your coach? What can an athlete do to make the coach's job more efficient and productive? How much should a coach know about your personal and professional life in order to do his or her job? What is the difference between a good coach and a bad one?
 

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Masher
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A lot of this depends on what level of coaching you are looking for and this varies greatly all the way up to you are their only client and they prepare your meals and motorpace your training rides.

At a minimum they should,

Get to know you and the goals you would like to achieve.
Know how much time you have to dedicate to your training.
Create a training plan based on these guidelines.
Adjust the training plan based on feedback from your execution of it.
Adjust the training plan based on unforseen circumstances. (illness, travel, work etc.)
Find a way to measure your progress toward your goals
Help you keep motivated in achieving your goals.

Things like how much contact you have with your coach and their response time, presence at your races etc will vary based on lots of things. A brand new coach might get intimately involved with your training because they have no other clients and are trying to build their reputation by helping ensure success in a client at a nascent coaching business.

It should start with a frank conversation. Sometimes personalities clash or goals are unrealistic. And the client has to do the work. Coaches don't perform magic tricks. You have to do the work and be honest with them about it. And there is a lot more to training than just the workouts. You need to rest and manage your diet and that isn't always discussed in detail with some coaches.

I'll tell you honestly, at the lowest price levels of coaching, you don't get much of anything you can't do yourself.
 

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I wondered a lot of these same things. I just started with a coach to prepare for the upcoming season. He's a sports medicine doctor, so it's an actual doctor's appointment and is billed through my insurance. He has a lab area and does LT, VO2Max, and lung function testing. I see him monthly for him to retest me. He revises the training plan based my test results. He's treating my asthma and he's also my coach for mt biking. The relationship is more like a dr patient relationship than an athlete coach relationship. Until the asthma is under control and the test results show that I have 100% useage of my lungs, the focus for him will be on medical stuff. He is giving me harder intervals to do, so I am getting the coaching. He teaches me about my muscle types and how to train them (type 1, type 2a, and type 2b). He also teaches me about resting, cross training, and nutrition. He wrote a book, so I read that as well. He is available to me via email for questions. I try not to overwhelm him though.
 

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Get to know you and the goals you would like to achieve.
Know how much time you have to dedicate to your training.
Create a training plan based on these guidelines.
Adjust the training plan based on feedback from your execution of it.
Adjust the training plan based on unforseen circumstances. (illness, travel, work etc.)
Find a way to measure your progress toward your goals
Help you keep motivated in achieving your goals.
This is a great outline of what a coach can bring. The best thing I get out of my coach is the motivation. It's amazing how knowing that someone is analyzing and measuring your training forces you to gfet off your ass.
 

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You can get in on Amazon. I don't think I've seen it in stores. On Amazon, you can read a sample of it. It's kind of scientific, but it explains everything that's happening to the muscles as you train. It helps to give focus to your training if you know why you're doing what you're doing.
 

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godsang said:
I just started with a coach to prepare for the upcoming season. He's a sports medicine doctor, so it's an actual doctor's appointment and is billed through my insurance.
That sounds great :thumbsup:
 

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beer horse
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Good question, lassiar. Thanks for asking it (I'm wondering the same). I have a couple questions to add:

Can you expect to get thorough coaching without a power meter? I have a HRM/GPS (Forerunner 405cx) and am entertaining the idea of hiring a coach. . .but I'm kind of a miser, so I want to make sure I'm extracting value for my dollar, you know?

MisterC: In your opinion, at what pay level are you getting coaching that you couldn't feasibly do on your own, not being an expert in the field?

Thanks
 

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Masher
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It's hard to say. I think, at a minimum, the services I listed are what you need to see benefits from a coach but often those benefits aren't included at the entry level coaching programs. Typically, a coach will take on a client where the time investment comes in the form of making them a training schedule based on the discipline they race and how many hours they have to dedicate. Likely a monthly phone call and an email at the end of every week. The initial interview might just be a profile form that you fill out and the only time they remember who you are is when they open your file.

These things have value, especially for a busy cyclist who just doesn't have time to do it themselves, but they don't require a huge amount of time and the limited contact makes it hard to make adjustments when things go wrong. That doesn't mean it can't work but I think you will decide you either need more from your coach or don't need one at all after a couple months "How are things?" "Fine." e-mail conversations.

There are also services that aren't necessarily needed at the higher levels. Coaches will often schedule a ride with their higher paying clients every month or so but I don't understand what that accomplishes other than getting to know your client and developing a friendly relationship rather than just a customer relationship. In my mind, at the end of the day, I want to get along with my coach or my client, but he doesn't need to be my friend, he needs to help me or I need to help him get faster. A cyclist struggling through a bad training program should drop even their best friend if they arent getting any benefit out of it. It's no different than any other service. If your brother is a terrible lawyer, do you go to trial with him?

If a coach is meeting a client for a ride, he should be holding a stop watch. Better yet, he should be supporting him/her at one of their A priority races.

Using a power meter certainly makes a coaches job easier and benefits your training at the same time, especially if you coach is not local to you. Identifying weaknesses, training them and measuring results is easier with a power meter and you can also identify when a client is operating outside of the plan.

You don't want to work with someone that is not sticking to the plan. The logic follows that you can't blame your coach for bad results if you don't follow the plan and it can be frustrating listening to complaints from a chronicaly overtrained athlete who is always adding on extra miles because he doesn't feel tired enough at the end of a workout.

Otherwise, you can absolutely get good coaching without power as a tool but the results of your efforts will be harder to measure. There is a lot more to training with power than just workouts. TSS, IF, ramp rates and peaking are more precisely controlled with a power meter. But there are lots of good workouts that can be done where HR doesn't matter and other than that, knowing your LTHR well enough fills in the tempo and threshold workouts and its just a matter of structuring the training plan.

Its harder on you as well. When your coach assigns a workout in a certain HR zone you need to be able to execute the workout in that zone.

Its also important to remember that training doesnt have to be an EXACT science especially for new or less trained athletes. With a decent coach and a HR monitor an untrained athlete can see huge improvements in just a year or even less depending on the time available to train and the dedication of the athlete.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I’m surprised more people didn’t respond to this question. Thanks for the info, MisterC. What do you think of CTS and their coaching plans?
 

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lassiar said:
I'm surprised more people didn't respond to this question.
It's because Mister C pretty much hit the nail on the head, IMO.

Also because it's a difficult question to answer.

An easier question is "what did you get for your coaching dollars?".

For me, $185 a month:
-Plan given by the week. Annual plan created typically to next peak race.
-Really no limit to email correspondences. Whenever I sent an email, he would answer same day. I might of sent 1 or 2 a week, that's it. I was a pretty low-maintenance athlete. :)
-Phone call every other week or so.
-Access to the Trainingpeaks website. There is where I would upload workouts and such, write comments, etc. Occasionally he would comment on something I wrote that he either liked or concerned him. That's definitely a plus, the only problem is that the coach has to pay for use of the site for all his clients, which trickles down to the coaching fees.
-Weightlifting/stretching plan. He used another website (that he probably pays for) for illustration and instructions of the weightlifting and stretching plans. In the long run, it's just easier and quicker for him to use these websites I believe.
-Only first power test is included to establish power and HR training zones. Additional testing is $75 dollars per test.
-He also did bike fitting in which the fee was based on the time spent on the fitting.
-He also has multiple certifications and is a very strong racer who competes in various disciplines (road, mountain, and cross), which I liked, because when we talked about a particular race, he already knew the courses. (the value of a local coach, IMO).
-He's also fairly active on facebook, so there is where he gives a lot of the "attaboys" to his athletes. Especially if you're posting podium pics. It appears that he enjoys networking in that environment.

If I had extra cash like last year, I'd be with him again this season. I thought he was excellent and very professional.
 

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Masher
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I'm not really familiar with Carmichael beyond the website information but I can imagine the pitfalls and benefits of taking that direction.

I think you can do just as well for the same or less money locally and I've gotta shout out for the local coaching groups. Most of the guys I know bleed this stuff and while the Carmichael group might be the same, I've never met one of their coaches. But there is a wealth of experience in that company second to none and the only question regarding that resource is how often is it tapped vs. the general prescription of coaching concepts that can be found in any text.

I can't claim to have any idea what it's like to work with them but I'd just suggest you do your research and if you aren't looking to spend a lot I think you can get a more customized and personal approach from a local guy. If you look into the hiring structure for CTS then I think you can guess pretty well how the coaching structure works. But maybe not, this is all speculation.

There might be a lot of analytics that go into coaching but I still think the most important thing a coach can do is motivate their athlete. The surest plan to success is worthless if it isn't executed and worse, the disallusionment in the whole coaching experience that comes from failure, no matter whose fault it is.

Placing blame is a great defense mechanism and really helps pad the ego but I gotta say, the first thing clients and coaches need to do when they get together is check the ego at the door. Just because he coached a world champion doesn't mean he can help you and just because you pay a lot of money doesn't mean you are capable of results. There are biological barriers that we are all up against and realistic ambition is the best attitude a coach/ahlete relationship can hope for.

I can't remember who said it but a wise man said, "The longer it takes you to get to the top, the longer you'll stay there."
 
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