Getting a Human Coach

Experiences with coaches?

I’m looking for some advice. I’d like to get a knowledgeable cycling coach to help me out with the many questions I have, from training, overtraining, weight training, nutrition, body composition (shedding fat, gaining muscle), etc. Am I doing too much? Not enough? Too intense? Not enough? Its all so confusing.

Goal: win age group marathon MTB races. Also (and I’m well aware the training will be different for this) I potentially have a 1500 mile race in May. Become a stronger rider.

About me:

Approximately 295 FTP
75 kg
16(!) percent body fat
43 years old
Train on bike 6 days a week (And at least 3 two-a-days weight training in evening)
+12 hours a week
Currently use TrainerRoad and Zwift on Wahoo KICKR.
Prefer indoor workouts during winter, but have power meters on both road and MTB.

All that being said, do you recommend TrainingPeaks coaches or can I do better elsewhere? I’m pretty data driven and read a lot. I don’t mind paying what someone is worth.

I also need to know how much more I can even improve. Gains are starting to come more slowly now.

What do you all think? I don’t really have many other places to ask this question but I might try a couple other forums. Thanks!!

You will get good and bad within the TrainibgPeaks eco- system. I used to have a coach and we met as he successfully coached many of the top local riders. Ask around. Having a coach who can can help with local routes, knows local race course profiles can also be as useful as just building a plan. Seems like if you are still making gains that’s a positive. My old coach also used TR. and so rather than writing intervals would find a TR workout with the same intent so was easy in that way.

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That sounds awesome. :sunglasses: Very best of luck with this event :muscle:t2::muscle:t2:

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Can’t go wrong with kolie moore over at empiricalcycling. Especially if it involves lifting aswell

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I’ve always been reluctant to hire the internet coaches because it’s hard for me to believe they really put in the work to individualize every plan even though the cost is very high. With you being new to coaching, having lots of questions, wanting frequent contact and hand holding, I would look for someone local or be prepared to pay top dollar online. As an example, here are the FasCat prices (note: they have a sale going on now that brings this price down).

Having said that, going local definitely doesn’t guarantee individuality. I have a friend who signed up for a local coach who has great success with a local rider in his 60s who is a featherweight and only does cycling. My friend is a big beefy triathlete and mtb’er in his 40s who does a lot of lifting. After an initial consultation reviewing all his goals, training needs, etc., he hired the coach…and we immediately noticed his Strava rides were identical to the other guy. We started looking at all the riders we knew of who used that coach and they were all doing the exact same workouts on the exact same weeks. So, know what you’re paying for and buyer beware.

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If you have time there are some good discussions and recommendations in that thread.

Ultimately I had good success with Steve Neal. During that period of time I consulted with about a half dozen coaches. A lot of overlap in terms of approaches and I found personality fit to be critical.

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Definitely good advice.

I know a coach on TP, personally. He’s really shite. He only knows one thing, and doesn’t really know about progressions, but he charges seriously pro rates. He took a couple of talented folks and they were talented/winners, and claimed them as his success. He took some middlings/back of the pack folks, and he threw the same program at them.

I told him, you can’t take someone who averages 300TSS a week and start them off like the cat 1 guys at 15hr/wk. You’ll completely destroy them. After some serious back and forth, a few days later, he relented. 600TSS instead of 1200TSS. I was like, OMFG, I can coach better than you. His advantage, he talks very well, but he’s a salesman by trade.

Coaches proclaim winners as their successes. So, definitely be careful if they start name dropping in your discussions with them. One has nothing to do with the other, unless you are in that league.

Edit: I just want to follow up about FasCat coaches. I’ve used 2 of them. One for me, and one for my son. Both were good, IMO. For me, it has been a real positive. It’s not so much about the work, as that’s a bit cut and dry, but about little things that we’ve been working on. Fueling, pedal circle, cadence, pacing, etc. My gains were there, he just helped me polish some more (low hanging fruit, basically). More time will tell, of course, but being sick now with a serious regression in the works, will start to show more. But, as always, for work, the ball is in my court.

One thing I stressed on, do you subscribe to any particular training philosophy.

Also, coaching is a 2-way street. If you don’t communicate, nobody can really help you.

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This is key, IMO. Someone who is going to work within the bounds of your particular circumstances, rather than try to make you fit into their canned expectations and plans.

Most coaches worth their salt will tell you the same things in terms of your training in an ideal environment. To me what separates the wheat from the chaff is the ability to adapt training to real life for the average athlete. Individualization is key, and unfortunately there are too many coaches out there who are more driven by their own process/plan.

I get it. It is way more time efficient for a coach to throw some version of the same plan at every athlete they coach, but as an athlete, there’s no way I would want that for myself.

Personally, if I were seeking a coach, I would look for someone who is coaching because they like to; someone who already has money, maybe doing it as their second or bridge career. So many of these services and career coaches (particularly the younger ones) are about volume and charging as much as they can so they can make a living (which I get), and I have a hard time believing they can really coach effectively.

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Coming from someone who coaches, I would: i) try to find someone local, who knows the racing scene - nothing like personal interaction; ii) speak to them (a few times) before signing up; and iii) ask the local cycling community for recommendations.

Also, the coach you get to advise on training, may not be the best person to advise on nutrition and lifting!

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a local coach can be of help as they can know some of the local routes and sometimes say “go to this hill and do hill repeats” and if they have other athletes local you can do group rides with them and form a nice community. Maybe the biggest benefit of a local coach is being able to ask around locally about their reputation.

But I don’t see that a local coach is a requirement as long as you can communicate well with your internet coach. Honestly now with things like zoom calls it can be effective. But honestly I’ve had a coach and communication was primarily via text and email and to me it worked great.

I’d also say don’t pick a coach who’s only selling point is they are/were a successful athlete. That certainly doesn’t mean they can coach.

When I had a coach I totally lucked out I believe. My coach not only was a good athlete but more importantly IMO had education in biology and physiology as well a long history of coaching athletes of different abilities from beginners to advanced. And she had the reputation of not overtraining her athletes and keeping them healthy.

My coach also had a 3 month minimum commitment so I figured the worst case was I dropped her after 3 months.

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I don’t know where the OP is based but here in the UK, British Cycling have a list of coaches that have undergone their training. Maybe other national associations have similar. Again, as others have noted that’s no guarantee that they are suitable for a given individual.

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I’ve had an excellent experience with a FasCat coach. Bought a road bike in December 2015 and using Time Crunched Cyclist book self-coached to 280 ftp in just over a year. But I made a lot of mistakes and repeatedly sidelined with small injuries, which led to consistency issues. I’m in late fifties and not talented enough to be competitive, but love hanging with the fast guys on Wed night worlds. Tried TR for two years and it was too much intensity, too many intervals. Tried FasCat plans and immediately improved performance and overall fitness, big difference. Hired Coach Isaiah just over a year ago, as he had 10 years experience, a podcast, and appeared to be one of those that loves coaching and constantly seeking to improve as a coach. The plan has been highly personalized from the beginning. And the performance improvements keep coming. Best cycling decision I made. Other coaching companies I’d consider based on approach - CTS (trainright.com), Empirical, Velocious, Scientific Triathlon, and a local company Athleticamps. Treat it like a job interview, hire someone you mesh with. Hope that helps.

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You all have been extremely helpful and a lot of your concerns echo my own. Not getting a personalized plan is a big issue for me.

I love AT and I think it works great! I already have that, so a generic “plan” by a “coach” won’t be better.

I like the point someone made about the best nutrition coach maybe not being the best cycling coach and vice versa. Point taken!

Riding on the trainer now and hate typing while riding. Please keep the suggestions coming as I’m reading them all.

What if the template plan isn’t appropriate? AT is merely adapting workout difficulty level, from a baseline template. I think TR has designed some good progressions, but focused on time crunched and push intensity even at 6 hours and above. Picking a lower volume and “adding endurance” is not a plan. Some people respond to TR’s approach, I didn’t.

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I have not paid a FasCat coach, but I have bought one of their plans. I find it incredibly frustrating that they don’t answer my questions on the forums, even simple ones and even when I tag them. Is it any better when you’ve paid for their coaches? Can you text or email and get quick replies?

I ask because this started with the OP mentioning that he has lots of questions, and looking at the levels above, it looks like even the most expensive levels only get 2 phone calls a month.

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Yes, I ask questions by email and receive prompt answers from my coach.

Edit to add color… We have a monthly phone call, I come prepared with questions and post them on TrainingPeaks so he sees it in advance. We get a lot done in 30 minutes. Early on we established guidelines on how to modify workouts, and so I don’t need to ask those questions. Since signing up over a year ago, I’ve noticed that FasCat has added 2 or 3 coaches. My coach is very very busy, he rarely posts on the forum. He coaches a LOT of athletes, and also coaches high school team and has some pro level side gigs.

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Thanks! Pacific Coast Bike Race, Portland Oregon to San Diego California.

Good question. But that’s what I mean, if it isn’t personalized, it isn’t any better than doing it based on some generic plan I find, unless of course I get lucky by being assigned a plan that magically works perfectly for me.

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What’s the race?

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