Pick a Coach

Pick a Coach

10/02/2015 in Focus Aid, General
1 Comment

Many people have reached out to me via email, twitter, and facebook asking questions about coaching.  Do they need a coach, how to pick a coach, who would I recommend.  I will cover the topic here.

Do you really need a coach?
Most people do need a coach.  The majority of us “triathletes” are type A go getters that will cram  training in every breath we get.  There are some of us that can take a 12 or 16 week plan off the internet, refine it, and execute it without guidance, but often when we do this we sell ourselves short by overtraining (inadequate rest) or undertraining (never pushing hard enough).  Personally I am great at burying myself and I am not great at recovering…and this is why I have a coach.  To help guide you, if you answer “NO” to any of these questions then I would recommend a coach:
-Is your goal “just to finish?”
-Can you research, understand, and choose a training plan that is right for you?
-Can you make changes to the plan to accommodate your schedule and then stick to the plan?

-How to pick a coach?
There are many athletes out there that have coaches and are not happy with and the reasons vary.  The coach does not communicate in a language that you understand, is inflexible to their schedule, plans unrealistic workouts, checks in only when it is time to pay your bill, doesn’t have faith in you, and on and on.  So these athletes stop listening to their coaches and do their own thing, but keep paying the coach because it has become a “status” thing and they don’t know where to go to find a new coach.

There are hundreds of self-promoted “coaches” out there, they have this certification and that certification.  Some of the uncertified coaches are phenomenal and some of the level 25 certified coaches are absolutely inept.  Some of the best coaches are average athletes that are passionate, well read, nerds of human physiology and some of the worst coaches are former top professional triathletes.  So how do I find a good one?

First figure out if a club or a coach will work best for you.  Many times there is a club that has group sessions for 10-25 people targeting the same races you are, if their schedule is something that meshes well with yours, I would not be afraid to train in a group. Often athletes are deterred by group sessions for a fear of getting dropped, don’t worry there is always somebody slower than you.  For me I love to mix it up with the best I can find on the fast days and slow it way way down on the recovery days.

If the club route is not your style or does not fit into your busy schedule then it is time to invest in a personal coach.  Picking a coach is like dating, some of us marry our high school sweethearts and others date all the Liberal Arts majors at school, it is about finding a relationship that works.  Talk to them and find out their philosophies, discuss your schedule, your goals and see if it is a match.

Just because you read that Mark Allen was a great coach does not mean he is a great coach for you.  He won Kona more than a handful of times but he has never had to juggles a medical sales position, 12 kids, 3 wives, a girl friend, and The Real Starky account in addition to his training.  That is why The Real Starky chose Barrie Shepley because he had more experience in this area.  Find the coach that is right for you, not somebody else.

My coaches are Bob Duncan (Veritas Endurance) & Charlie Kern (Championship Training Academy) and we have developed a relationship that does not just work, it freaking wins. That said we have had our moments where we don’t see eye to eye, where they vent if I am being stupid and I can vent if I don’t feel that we are where we should be.  Our heated discussions are gut check that make sure all of us are in it for the guts and the glory.  I look around at many of my fellow professionals and they do not have a strong bond with their coaching team and I feel it holds them back.  So just remember it is okay to argue with your coach as long as you are both fighting for the same dream.   #Champion

Fighting to Win and Punish,


  • Arno 00:03h, 11 February Reply

    Brillant. My bet is that you would make a nice coach

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