Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Getting a Coach

Sometimes it's not easy to take the necessary steps back to be objective about your own abilities and your training, even if you have the necessary skills. I'm now a qualified PT and have successfully designed programmes for myself and friends to help us achieve race goals but despite this I've decided to take a step back from my own training and hand the responsibility of designing a training plan to a coach.

Why on earth would I do that? Well for a start I don't know everything; I am still learning, reading around different subjects and discovering different approaches to training. I have also traditionally focused on only training for the next race, rather than looking at my year as a whole. Finally when I'm programming for myself it's easy to get a bit too involved, to be easy on myself or not be completely honest about strengths and weaknesses.

So when I got the opportunity to try a month's coaching with Performance Coaching I decided to give it a go. I'd been intrigued to know what it would be like. It might not be for me but at least I would find out what it was like to have someone else do the thinking for me. Plus it made me feel like a pro, having a coach. This was serious stuff!

The upfront work was quite involved. After a chat on the phone about my goals and background I was asked to elaborate on this by completing a 50-odd page document with information on general health and fitness, training goals, previous race experience and outcomes, available time, current training and basic diet overviews. All of this influenced the designing of my plan which I can access online through the Training Peaks platform. I can log in online or via an app on my phone to see what I'm meant to be doing when then upload my Garmin data and add comments to sessions for review later.

The first week was geared towards determining my HR zones and making adjustments and from then on it was simply a case of getting on with things. I've found I treat my workouts much more like appointments than I used to. My training tended to be a bit of a movable feast as no one was looking over my shoulder. Being accountable to someone really does make a world of difference, even more so when they're in control of the plan. And I'm continuing to learn.

My coach has been incredibly approachable and quickly got a feel for my attitude to training. At our check in after two weeks he was already correct in his assumption that a couple of sessions showing as missed on TP wasn't just due to me being sloppy with uploading.

As I near the end of my trial I am starting to consider whether I want to continue with my coach. We click and I am certainly more focused so I'd like to but there are finances to consider. I already pay for a gym membership, occasional classes elsewhere and want to take some swim lessons in the New Year. However Performance Coaching offer a number of levels of coaching which could make this affordable at a basic level. I know some people who pay for the top package and that would be amazing but it's unrealistic for me.

You don't have to be a pro to have a coach, and even on a short term basis it could be useful if you want more targeted training. Plus it's fun to feel like a pro!

Do you have a coach or would you ever consider it? If you're thinking about it, you may find this article an interesting read. 


  1. Brill! Have heard great things about Performance Coaching too! I've got a coach for 2015. It's a luxury but I really want to do my best in my 2015 A race and figured the best way to do that would be to hand the responsibility over to a coach! Besides I LOVE being on a training schedule. It means I don't have to think about what I'm doing this week - it's already been decided! :)

    1. Ooo what's your A race for next year? We are all capable of drawing up our own training plans but it is so freeing to have someone else do it ;)