The benefits of triathlon coaching

The benefits of triathlon coaching

This two-part feature explains the major gains which can be made by having a triathlon coach - whatever level you're at - and then helps you identify the ideal fit depending on your own aims and ambitions.

 
Should you have a triathlon coach?  This is a question many of you will have asked at some point.  Triathlon is a hugely popular sport, and across the range, from novices to professionals, some athletes will have a coach, others won’t. 
 
Generally speaking however, it is safe to say that most athletes would benefit from good quality coaching input at some stage in their triathlon journey. 
 
This is especially the case for people:

  • Completely new to the sport.
  • Those with limited time for training.
  • Those setting themselves demanding challenges or goals.

Benefitting from triathlon coaching doesn’t have to mean shelling out vast sums of money every month; there are a range of options to suit all budgets and needs.
 
If you want to improve your triathlon performance (and who doesn’t?), we would highly recommend you see if you can take advantage of some expert guidance, using our advice below. 
 

What can a good coach do for you?

 
1. Optimise available time: If you have limited time to train, a coach will help you make the most of this time.  One of my athletes told me I am his wife’s favourite person: he trains less, has more time for his family, but is racing better and so he is happier!
 
2. Provide objectivity: When you are looking at your training and performance as an athlete it can often be difficult to be objective about where you are at and what you need to do.
 
3. Improve technique: Whether swim, bike, run or transition, most people can gain time by becoming more technically competent.  Safety in particular on the bike is another area.  Being able to take a drink, ride in a pack, be confident through the corners etc are all important. 
 
4. Improve physical ability: Knowledge and experience of training methods and sessions should enable you to reach higher levels.

5. Tactical and strategic input: An experienced coach will be able to analyse a race course and advise on race strategy based on your own particular areas of strength and weakness.
 
6. Accountability:  There is a massive amount to be said for having someone to be accountable to in order to get you out training consistently and properly. 
 
7. Support: There are times when all athletes need something extra, maybe a shoulder to cry on, a stern talking to, advice and general chat - a good coach will be there for you.
  

How YOU can benefit from triathlon coaching


Everyone from the most novice novice to the most seasoned pro can benefit from having a coach, BUT the important thing is to get the right one for you at the stage you are at. They might not be the right coach for your whole career. Sometimes you need to change, not because your previous coach wasn't good, but a change in stimulus/ideas can provoke a more significant improvement in performance, but again it needs to be the right person for you. 
 

Novices

Novices can make big improvements very fast with a coach’s help and support.  Most people with little or no training history will get fitter quite quickly by doing some training, any training.  However many end up injured for a variety of different avoidable reasons, or take a lot longer to reach the gains they could have made more quickly with some expert guidance.
 
An experienced coach of novices will be able to help structure a suitable training load, through adjusting the volume, frequency and intensity of the training. If they are a local coach they should also be able to help with technical aspects such as swim stroke, cycling (there are so many areas in cycling including sorting out the right bike, how to use it, not to mention the technical skills required in a triathlon) and running. Club coaches and face-to-face contact is really important at this stage to make the most progress.
 

Intermediate

You've been doing this a while and are looking for the next gains, maybe you have plateaued, maybe you are taking it more seriously, but a coach can really help to make those next performance gains.
 
Choosing the right coach or coaches needs a little thought though.  There are many internet coaches out there, but if the most pressing reason you have for wanting a coach is to improve something technical then you really want to be looking at someone close to home who you can see regularly. 
 
However if you want someone to help re-structure training, provide new ideas, look at areas such as nutrition or using a power meter, race strategy, all of those can be accomplished effectively via internet support. 
 
There is no rule that says you can’t have multiple coaches but you need to ensure they all know what the others are doing. Triathlon is not three sports, it's one that has three disciplines that interact with each other, and this needs to be reflected in your training/preparation.
 

Elite/Pro

Often many pros have an enormous amount of knowledge about all aspects of triathlon, gained over many years, but they still want/need a coach.  The roles the coach can play here are vast.  For some it is about laying out the programme and having structure, others it is a guide to help them through, a friendly face or stern talking to at the appropriate times, an objective voice, technical input, or all of the above and more. 

So now we've identified the multiple benefits of having a coach - whatever level you're at - the second part of this feature takes a closer look at the different types of triathlon coaching on offer and helps you choose the one best suited to you.

Click here to read 'Finding the right triathlon coach'.

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