Hiring an endurance coach is a big decision. Not only is it a financial investment, but it’s also a commitment to a training process and philosophy. Working with an experienced coach can make a big difference, helping you avoid training pitfalls, prevent injuries, get the most out of each training session, and ultimately arrive at the starting line as fit, equipped, and ready to compete as possible!
At Team MPI, we place just as much importance on education as we do on the actual training plan! Endurance sports can be expensive. Add the cost of coaching, and you’re making a pretty hefty investment. Here are a few things to consider that will help you determine if you’re ready to hire (and benefit from) an endurance coach.
How To Know If You’re Ready To Hire An Endurance Coach
Working with an endurance coach isn’t the right answer for everyone. But, athletes at every performance level can benefit from working one-on-one with an experienced coach. Whether you’re a regular podium finisher or a “back-of-the-pack” athlete, brand new to the endurance world, or well “past your prime,” your goals are important, and having a coach in your corner will help you achieve your objectives and maximize your potential.
What’s your knowledge base?
Knowledge is power. In the case of endurance sports, knowledge can save you from a world of hurt--literally and figuratively! No matter what you’re training for--a marathon, IRONMAN, cyclocross race, or anything in between, it’s essential that you understand how to train effectively and efficiently.
Back in the day, it took most people three or four attempts to even finish their first IRONMAN triathlon--if they could get to the start line injury-free and healthy enough. Our understanding of how to fuel and train for such an event has improved dramatically and increased the success rates in all kinds of endurance sports.
The longer the race, the greater the chance that you might not accomplish your goals (or even finish the race) unless you have the proper training, nutrition, and race plan. A poorly designed or executed training plan for any type of endurance race can lead to an uncomfortable--and potentially even unsafe--day on the racecourse.
A good endurance coach offers a wealth of experience and knowledge about their sport. They’re eager to identify your knowledge gaps and help you learn what you need to know to accomplish your goals and reach your potential.
However, if you have loads of free time to do your own research, it is possible to learn everything you need to know on your own from training partners, the internet, and coaching seminars.
For things like run and swim form or cycling skills, there’s really nothing better than one-on-one coaching. Individualized coaching is really the best, most efficient, and effective way to master these technique-based skills and improve your overall performance.
The bottom line is, knowledge is power. Do you feel comfortable and confident in your own knowledge and ability to train, race, and accomplish your goals? If not, do you have the time and energy to fill in the knowledge gaps on your own? If the answer to either of these questions is “no,” then you’re likely ready to invest in endurance coaching.
What’s your schedule like?
Most athletes discover that the longer (or more complicated) the event they’re training for, the more likely they are to benefit from hiring a coach. Training for an ultra-run, IRONMAN, 70.3 triathlon, long-distance gravel race, and many other endurance events requires a considerable amount of time--not only in hours of training each week but also in the number of months of training leading up to the race. It’s essential to make sure you’re focusing on the right things at the right time and in the right order.
“Canned” training plans will typically help you gain a general proficiency in each discipline you’re training for, but they won’t help you shore up your weaknesses and capitalize on your strengths. Pre-made plans also won’t be dynamic, adapting to life events or helping you avoid over-training. These pre-developed training plans can’t answer your questions as they arise.
Using a “canned” plan often leaves athletes doing a lot of “junk miles” that are a waste of valuable training time and can lead to over-training and injury. If you’re going to put in the time to train for an endurance race, make sure you use your time wisely by ensuring every mile has a purpose for your unique strengths and weaknesses.
We mentioned the amount of time required to research and learn all you need to know about training and racing. Designing a training plan for your specific needs and fitness levels also takes time and mental energy. Truthfully, it’s quite a process. While it is possible for just about anyone to learn how to develop training plans, is that the best use of your valuable time? Most athletes don’t have the time to research each race and build a training plan, let alone execute it.
Having a coach saves valuable time and energy. A seasoned coach will keep you from logging those “junk miles” that have no purpose and they’ll save you time in research and constantly adjusting your training to align with your current fitness levels.
Are you still making progress toward your goals?
Many athletes set short-term and long-term goals for themselves. If you’re really honest with yourself, are you still growing and making progress toward your goals? There are loads of things that can stall an athletes’ progress or development. Some athletes overtrain and never let their bodies recover sufficiently, or they battle chronic injuries. Other athletes do the same workouts over and over at the same intensity. Then there are those athletes who change training plans or philosophies every few months and never stick with a program long enough to see results.
A coach will hold you accountable for doing the right kind of work at the right time and keep your workouts fresh to avoid boredom or burnout. They’ll make sure your training plan is always providing the right amount of challenge to help you make progress.
If you find that you’ve “stalled” in your training or racing performance, it’s likely time for you to hire an endurance coach who can identify the reasons and get you moving forward again. Working with a professionally trained coach is also a valuable investment if you want to take your performance to the next level.
In short, having a coach by your side means you will optimize your training, learning, and overall performance. You’ll save yourself valuable time and may even save yourself from injury! A coach will equip and empower you to accomplish your unique goals and help you have the best training and racing experiences possible.
8 Questions To Ask Yourself to Determine If You’re Ready To Hire An Endurance Coach
Here are eight questions to ask yourself that will help you determine if you’re ready to hire a coach. If you answer “yes” to more than two of these questions, it’s very likely that you’ll benefit greatly from working one-on-one with a professionally trained endurance coach.
___ Are you planning to train for an event that is more intense or a longer distance than you’ve previously completed?
___ If you’re a seasoned athlete with at least one year of experience in your sport, do you have goals that involve improving your overall performance by more than 10%?
___ Do you battle chronic injuries, fatigue, or have trouble completing your current training plan?
___ Do you have limited time to train each week and find it difficult to adapt your current training plan to fit your lifestyle?
___ Do you struggle with nutrition and fueling during training or racing?
___ Do you have a desire to understand the “why” behind each training session and gain a deeper understanding of how to effectively train for endurance sports?
___ Do you train consistently but struggle to “put the pieces together” on race day?
___ Do you struggle to train consistently? You’re excited about your goals but need someone to hold you accountable along the way?
If you’re considering hiring a coach this season, contact Team MPI today to learn more about our training philosophy and how we can help you get Smarter, Stronger, and Faster!
Gregg Edelstein is a certified USA Triathlon Level 1 Coach, an IRONMAN University Certified Coach and a USA Cycling Level 3 Coach based in the greater Boston area. Gregg offers his athletes insight on the principles of exercise, nutrition, sports psychology, and injury prevention, working to make them well-rounded and engaged athletes that share his passion for sport. Gregg can be reached at Greg@TeamMPI.com