I replied before reading this. But it makes a lot of sense. I think to get there though, you have to really trust that coach. And that takes some time.
IMO the best thing an athlete can do is let go of that control and trust their coach. It’s not going to work if you constantly question the coach’s plan
I’m sure you are correct! But does this apply to every coach? What if the coach is wrong? They arent infallible.
And I think they’re obviously better at coaching than I am. But they need the information from the riders, and I dont think the price point I’m at gives me their undivided attention.
I think you research coachthe best you can and hopefully and likely they have a trial period of 3 months so you both get a sense if it will work out.
Communication is key for sure. And I think there’s a fine line between questioning a coach’s approach and providing feedback or just having an adult conversation with them about things you view that might help with your training.
I’ve only had one human coach and my goals have always been pretty modest and my top goals are stay healthy so I can race, a reasonable training volume that I can handle without getting burned out but allows me to complete the longer endurance gravel events I tend to do. Now if I told my coach I want to podium I’m certain there would be a discussion about what that would mean for my training.
I think finding the right fit with a coach isn’t the easiest.
Some numbers about myself to begin:
21 years old, 3rd year cycling (1st time doing structured training), 6’ 4" 173-175 lbs (approx. 79 kg), 4.4-4.5 w/kg
I started my training in mid November at an ftp of 315, since then it has slowly increased and is currently at 342. I have a ramp test next week and after last weekend (354 NP for 34 minutes) it should increase again to around 350. I have raced in 5 crits so far and come away with good results in Cat 4 (1st, 2nd, 5th, 3rd, & 1st). I upgraded this week to Cat 3. The main thing I have heard from people around me recently is that I need to get a coach. I currently plan on finishing out this season on TR, but want to learn more about the process or just gain some general knowledge from others who have gone through something like this. I want to get stronger and faster and not waste this opportunity that may be in front of me as long as I continue to put the work in. If you were me, is this something you would pursue?
If you’ve got the money, sure. Nice to not look back and wonder “what if”.
Are you training indoors? How are you measuring your Power output?
There’s many reasons to get a personal coach. Personally it comes down to can you justify the cost. At your age your dependant costs are probably low so potentially the sacrifices you’d need to make would be minimal.
TR can provide a fantastic training platform as well, especially combined with the phenomenal wealth of knowledge here on the forum and on the Podcast.
I’d go and talk to a few coaches, at least. Most offer a free chat or will at least answer an email. Some have money-back guarantees for the first month or so, if you don’t get on.
You can do everyhing yourself and use programs like trainerroad and you’ll likely get stronger. But it takes time (years) to figure out the best way of training for you (its most likely not just following a TR plan). A coach can make that learning a lot quicker. Plus a coach can help you tactically, and how to prepare for races, and likely also link you up with teams in your area
Are you in a club? If so then who
are your team mates using for coaching? I’d have thought that’s the best place to start, finding somebody with a personal recommendation and who is familiar with the local races. And if you’re not in a club then joining one also a good idea. A good club or race team should be able to offer plenty of help both in terms of your training and with your race craft that can either complement a coach or serve instead of a coach if you want to see how far you can go down the TR/self-coached route.
IME cat 3 is where race craft and team work starts to be more important. Lots of people with FTPs in the 4-4.5W/kg range (around here at least) so watts alone isn’t enough unless you’re up at ~5W/kg or more and headed rapidly for cat 2. So having team mates to learn off and/or a local coach who is doing more than just setting your training plan can really help.
I’ve been training indoors over the winter, but am able to get outside as it warms up outside. I do use a power meter.
I am in a collegiate club and also more of a social club that include some races (most people just ride at events… not races). I have been racing alone during the college season, and will most likely be racing without teammates for domestic. I am looking at joining a better team in the fall. I only have one cycling friend who happens to be a former professor who is Cat 1 that uses a coach. Other than him, I don’t have any other connections to a coach.
My $0.02 here is that you’re young, and you’ve had a lot of success in Cat 4 by basically being the strongest dude in the field. I did that (but not until I was 44 years old!). Cat 3 will be more of a challenge tactically - odds are you’re going to be marked if you’re racing the same fields over and over again. So you have quite a bit of room to grow from a tactics and know-how standpoint. A coach with a lot of racing experience can help you with that.
Regarding your fitness, TR has definitely gotten you off to a good start. There’s a good chance you’re a “responder” based on your numbers, training history and age. A good coach is going to be able to specify your training by dissecting strengths, weaknesses, and what is limiting your performance. Odds are good with your fitness, your limiter at some point is going to be race execution. A coach can help you reduce that learning curve, for sure.
Some options could be using TrainingPeaks’ coach match service, or you could link up with one of the mother ships like FasCat, Velocious, Empirical Cycling, etc.
It kinda just depends on your budget. A lot of the bigger coaching services will have canned plans or less-individualized options that can run you $100/month or more (or less). If you’re looking for full-custom 1:1 coaching, some of those are going to run more like $400/month, unless you luck out and find someone who is new and still relatively cheap (but also good). I’m dirt cheap right now, I know another guy in San Diego who is more like $175/month…
… but honestly I’d want to see you get with someone who is local to Wisconsin (I stalked your results) and whose price is right. The TrainingPeaks coach match service could help with that. Coach Match Service to Help You Find a Coach
Or you could punch your zip code into USAC’s Find a Coach and do a couple of interviews with people who pop up there: Find A Coach | USA Cycling
100% agree with Kurt, I just wanted to add that Empirical Cycling offers a discounted rate for students Coaching & Consultations - Empirical Cycling. I’m not affiliated or anything, but I heard it’s a good deal for what they offer.
I’d think about why do you want to get a coach and what do you expect to get out of it? For the why, is it because people said you should or because you want to? And if you don’t have solid expectations that are clearly communicated and shared with a coach I think you’ll regret wasting money.
My 2 cents is, just because people said you should get a coach doesn’t in any way justify getting one. Three years in you’re just starting to exit the newbie gainz phase so I don’t think you need to get overly complicated with workout selection and plan builder would probably be good for lining up training with events. Where I see a coach, especially a local, being useful is on the mentoring / racing IQ / soft skills side. If you’re mostly racing alone or doing social rides but aren’t yet on a non-collegiate team, I think the mentoring part fills a current gap.
I’m also thinking don’t wait until the fall to join a domestic / adult team if possible. I get it if you are finishing school and will be moving, but you could always look at teams in the areas you are looking at relocating to. The last time I looked for a team I found one with a huge masters team (i’m oldish) and lots of masters cat 2s because I wanted them as a resource to learn from.
What is the opportunity you don’t want to waste? Do you think you’ve got the goods to make this a career? I’ve seen a lot of strong guys blaze through cat 4, and then land in cat 3 or cat 2 as pack fill.
I’m not saying to not go for it but be realistic. If the goal is just to have fun, then awesome. If you have high goals, then maybe get full metabolic testing and get the coach asap.
I think the best reason to have a coach is to fast track the knowledge acquisition phase. If you DIY, you can do TR until it no longer works for you, then you can try a Fastcat plan, or a Velocious plan. You’ll need to read a lot and learn as you go. Or, you get WKO5, start watching the webinars and then plan your next season. This method can honestly take 2-3-4-5 years as you do your experiments on yourself.
If you get a good coach, they might compress the training optimization into 1-2 years. One can think of it as $2500-5000 per year to shave some years off the learning assuming you learn a thing or two along the way.
@admesser25 Having gone through two seasons of cycling coaching (currently self-coached), I could not agree with this more. I’m only happy now as a self-coached athlete having gone through the process a few times. I basically got better at coaching myself. I don’t even know much more than I did previously (just read some of my posts! LOL), but I now know where I stand, objectively. And that is tremendously valuable even for someone who has much more modest goals than you.
Not sure if anyone has brought this up but what about the networking aspect. Perhaps a silly analogy but when I first moved to a new area I got a music teacher. I didn’t need a music teacher. In fact, most lessons we just jammed and I taught her just a much as she taught me (mostly just tunes). But she knew everybody. I demonstrated that I could play, instead of yadda yadda at parties. She hooked me up with others. It was a fast track.
Same thing. A reputable coach is going to do so much more than training plans and WKO (although they will certainly do that stuff too, LOL). And you’ll be able to gauge that very quickly. If it’s nothing more than what TR and forum posts can provide, then cut bait. A good human coach is invaluable.
My hot take is: the fact that you are posting this is the answer to your question.
Never know. Maybe some day you’ll come back here like anna_k. I’ll run over to my wife I say:
“I know that guy”…
her: “really, how?”…
me: “the cycling internet thing I do”…
her: “ok, so you don’t really know him”.
me: “well, i know him better than you”
The learning curve for self-coaching is a steep one, indeed. I’ve been doing it for, I don’t know… 15 years? And obviously I’m still learning.
Personally, I think the greatest asset of a coach is the second set of objective eyes. Even after all this time, education, and practice actually coaching other people, I make idiotic decisions when it comes to my own trianing… all… the… time. It’s really hard to remove emotion, pride, ambition from your own training. Like, it takes mental effort and preparation for me to write my own training every week to make sure I’m not being an idiot about it… then I look back when I screw up on myself and go, “Well, dummie, you wouldn’t program that for literally anyone else, so why did you do it to yourself?”
Between that objectivity and mentorship/education accelerating the process, coaching can be a real bargain provided you find the right person for you.
Hi all, back again.
I am 18 races into my road season as it will be wrapping up in a few weeks and sitting on my Cat 2 upgrade.
Just wondering what the main pieces I should be looking for when finding a coach. Obviously, price will be a big part of it. Would it be more beneficial to have a younger coach or someone older (or is it just personal preference?)
Experience is important, i’m not saying you need someone whos been coaching for 30 years, but I personally wouldnt use someone whos only been coaching for a year or two.
I would definitely talk to coaches before hiring one, you want someone that you can communicate well with. Also you want to be clear on what they provide you. Are you just getting a plan and 1 phonecall a month? Well maybe you want/need more feedback than that. Talk to many and see who your best fit is.
Ive had 3 different coaches, and the least expensive one was the one i was most happy with.
Hey There -
Years ago I looked at USA Cycling and looked up a coach near me, turns out he was incredibly well known and super awesome - I worked with him for about 5 years. I got out of it what you are looking for, but it took maybe 2-3 years for us to really click. With all that knowledge of my body and cycling now I am able to augment TR with my own mind quite a bit and am seeing decent enough improvements.
Try it out - but don’t give up after a month…I’d say a full season is worth it…