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How to Get the Most Out of Coaching

by | Jul 2, 2020 | Training

If you’re working with a coach for your cycling or running right now, or you’re considering hiring one, there are a few ways to get more out of your relationship. Longtime cycling coach Peter Glassford is sharing his tips for making your relationship with your coach the most effective that it can be — a coaching relationship can be fantastic and amazingly helpful, but it does require work from both parties.

Start with your own interview

A good coach will likely want to hop on a call with you to talk through what you’re looking for as an athlete and get a better senes of your life outside of sport, but clients can be doing the same thing and interviewing their coaches to figure out if it’s the right fit. Ask good questions before you start and ask WHO they coach … are they like you? You’re likely going to be better off working with a coach who has similar clients to you: If you’re a middle-aged masters man who wants to do well at the Leadville 100 MTB race, you probably don’t want a coach who primarily works with junior track athletes. (And yes, that is a common thing that people do. Seriously.) Ask a lot of questions at the outset of your coaching relationship: Your coach wants you to understand the process, otherwise it’s less likely that you’ll be truly ‘bought in’ and committed to doing the work.

Comment and COMMUNICATE

This can be done however you want, but for the love of all things cycling … Communicate. Using Voice Dictation to add comments to a workout in Training Peaks while stretching, cooling down and (sorry) while on the toilet are not uncommon ways that the reflection on the workout goals and the who/ what /where / when / how get done. This matters because if your workout went poorly because you were exhausted from a long day at work and a fight with your spouse and a bike that wasn’t shifting right is VERY different than if a workout goes poorly when all systems were go. Those situations would effect tomorrow’s training in very different ways, but a coach doesn’t see the difference unless it’s communicated.

Tell the coach when you like a workout or when you hate a workout

And yes, a good coach might still give you the ones you dislike, but there might be ways to tweak it to make it better OR you might be doing it differently than intended.

Provide Context

You know yourself and you know your life/house/routes/groups… Keep your coach updated on upcoming opportunities like group rides, and things like your favorite local hills. If you are motivated for something, there is often some gains to be had by following your motivation to work hard. Obviously you can’t do everything that pops up on Instagram or Strava, but if a long ride is calling you … discuss how/when it can fit into training. If there is a ‘segment’ you want to go hard on, maybe that can substitute for testing during the month (Consummate Athletes often use ‘strava/zwift’ tests in lieu of formal field test by using local climbs/segments and some ‘social motivation.)

It’s OK to Change

Life happens. You may have gotten a new puppy, suddenly switched jobs, be going through a tough time at home or at work — again, this is a reminder to communicate. But it’s also a reminder that it is OK — and normal — to have major life shifts that change your training goals. Heck, you might even simply realize that your current race goal holds little interest, but something like working on 20-minute power or getting to a certain body composition is more intriguing right now. Tell your coach about these changes rather than simply continuing on feeling overwhelmed or unfulfilled, or worse, ghosting your coach!

Ask Questions and Challenge Things

Remember, it’s not the coach’s training plan, its ‘our’ training plan, meaning you have a say in it as well. The more there can be a back and forth, the more the plan will fit to you and your life and your goals AND the more you are invested … If it’s always the coach saying you ‘have to’ or that you ‘can’t’ or that you SHOULD … Well, that plan is going to be much more oppressive than doing a workout that you know is the right one for you at this time.

Contemplating coaching? Book a call with Peter to talk about what might work for you!

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