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Chris Carmichael coached Lance through 4 Tour victories, and after reading Lance's book I'd be surprised if he (Lance) ever left him (Chris). Chris is a great coach. He may be able to take an hour off my IM bike leg, BUT he may also suck as a coach for me (I've never tried the guy, I'm just saying). Peter Reid credited his coach (Julie Anne White) as a major factor in his comeback this year in Hawaii. Again, she may or may not be the right coach for me. But she sure as hell worked for him!
There are a lot of excellent coaches available, but not all of them (or perhaps none of them) will be right for everyone. I have a good idea of who I'd like to coach me when I'm ready for it, but even so he will get grilled a little bit before I commit to his services (only a little because I have a good idea of how he runs his coaching business already, and trust the guy a fair bit by now). I'd expect something similar from him before he decided to take me on as an athlete, and if he didn't, I'd be a little bit disappointed. The coach/athlete relationship should be very open, with a lot of communication beforehand with regard to exactly what is expected going in. Any coach who doesn't ask a potential athlete a LOT of questions prior to accepting him or her is cheating the athlete (although not necessarily on purpose, as in shady business dealings). Any athlete who does not ask a potential coach a LOT of questions prior to signing on is cheating him or herself. The expectations of both parties must be made clear prior to an agreement to work together being made. This is integral for the success of the athlete, and good coaches know this. In fact, all the really good coaches I know talk a fair bit about this in their literature - and I'm sure would not hesitate to turn away a "poor fit" client.
Coaching is an excellent tool, but it remains just that - the athlete still has to be diligent and do the work. Prior to hiring a coach as well as after.
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I recently realized that if I wanted to jump to the next level that I'd need a coach, i found one and life is so much easier. No longer do i question whether every workout im doing is the right one to be doing. I dont worry anymore about staying up to date on a weekly basis to see if any new magical training process has been discovered. And maybe most amazing to me, is that I'm doing more work per week and yet have no feelings of deep deep fatigue, as I used to consistently kill myself in practice.
My coach is an online coach, never met the guy in person, yet. So i wouldnt say that should be a huge factor----but its not computer generated training.
If you're considering it, i'd say give it a try. And as another poster remarked, there is no extensive coaching standards---there is USAT certification and such. But I would look at his/hers record of coaching as well as the body of questions they ask of you prior to writing your plan. Also, I believe that whomever my coach is should have been an elite or wannabe elite triathlete in the past or have some sport science/physiology degree.
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i don't want to speak out of turn, but i think you'll see another one of these former world beaters, more recently beaten down like peter has been, popping up on the racing scene again, coached by julieanne. but this one's a female.
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First, a disclaimer, I am a coach with Wenzel World Class Coaching. In addition, I hire a coach.
Why? Simply put, coaching is about more than "training plans." Coaching is about having an objective eye helping an athlete make the right decisions to help them meet their goals. Coaching is about motivation. Coaching is about "throttling back" the overzealous. It's about relationships...In short, it's a combination of art/experience and science.
Tom, in a perfect world, we would have PhD and Masters candidates who are trained to help athletes (actually, we have Biomechanics and Physiology experts who often enter/assist in the coaching ranks). In the absence of such programs (to help today's athletes while developing formalized coaching programs for the future), we need to look to other alternatives. The company with whom I work combines the expertise of one PhD with 3 former European Pros/Pan Am Medalists. The result is a combination of science and experience which is optimal since a Masters program might over-emphasize "book learning" at the detriment of "real world" experience/motivation.
The real key was mentioned earlier...Ask a LOT of questions...Make sure you and your coach are "on the same page" and don't hesitate to clearly articulate your expecations up front.
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