So this is a new one, but it made me think about where cycling currently fits in my life.
I hired a coach at the beginning of the year, she’s an experienced coach and well regarded in the sport. I told her I usually have 5-7 hours per week to ride, what my goals are, my history in the sport, etc. She said (rightly) that this is a very low volume and explained that I need to manage my expectations on performance gains.
Fast forward 3 months, she called me up and suggested that I hold off on training and she isn’t willing to coach me at this time. To be honest I sort of saw this coming but asked her why, below are her reasons:
Your schedule is too erratic. This is true, I have a lot of kids and they have different schedules, my wife and I are always shuttling them back and forth to their events. I’ve had to skip days and sometimes do two-a-days to work things in. This results in the coach having to do extra work reassigning things.
You’ve been sick more than you’ve been healthy. Also true. Part of having a lot of kids is the disease factor. We’ve had norovirus twice, Covid at least twice, and other illnesses that have sidelined me for over half of this quarter.
Frankly speaking, do you think your schedule and health will improve in the next 3-6 months? This made me sit and think; the answer is no. And not even for the next 3-6 months, probably the next 3-5 years. As my kids get older, their events are going to take more and more time. We’re already traveling out of state for our eldest and the younger ones have their own events. There will likely be weeks where I won’t be able to get on the bike.
So we had the conversation and she said she’s unwilling to continue coaching me because it’s immoral on her part, she’s just taking my money and shifting around sessions while I deal with kids and health issues. She said at my age (late 40’s), cycling should be more about enjoyment than performance, especially since I didn’t pick up cycling until I was 40; I disagree with her about this but, given how busy my life is, I can see her point.
This event really hit me hard. Cycling is my personal time and I admit that I desperately need it. But it’s such a selfish and time-dependent sport. I know some parents limit the sports/events their kids can do, but if my wife and I have the financial means to support our kids, how can I not support them when they’re showing interest and talent? What kind of parent would I be if I told my kids “sorry, even though you love and excel at this thing, you can’t do it because I need my time on the bike.”.
Also, don’t give up on cycling … especially if you enjoy it. But performance gains and/or results are something you need to be honest about. However, if that’s the only reason you enjoy it, then … maybe.
I disagree with her point about starting in when you’re 40, etc.
I didn’t start cycling until I was 40, I didn’t start structured training until I was 44 and now, at 48, I’ve picked up a few overall podiums (1 overall win) and am regularly in my AG top 10 and still in the mix for AG podiums. It’s very satisfying to me and I enjoy the competition and the results, as they come. But … I also try to put a minimum of 10 hours in on the trainer every week in the winter, and 12 hours a week when I can ride outside. And I know I need to do a minimum of 9 hours a week just to stay afloat at my current level.
One day, I’ll probably scrap training and racing, but I’ll never not ride my bike. It will always be a part of my fitness plan — but mostly I just love it.
Nothing wrong with going all in for your kids. But your fitness needs to be part of that. U10 soccer games are great but this is a very long game we are all playing here. You also want to be around, and healthy enough, to go to your grandkids’ U10 soccer game. Balance is key. But 5-7 hours a week, even if somewhat sporadic, is plenty unless you have huge racing goals.
As for getting fired, don’t let it get you down. People go into coaching (or any other service type business with clients) for various reasons and as their practices develop, they often end up in a position where they can pick the type of athlete/client they want to work with. Someone who wants to, and can, work with folks who are “all in” may very well not get much pleasure out of working with a busy guy in his 40’s with only an irregular 5-7 hours a week. They may even be big enough to admit that that does not fit their coaching skillset. On the other hand, there are coaches who love this sort of challenge. I won’t give up on coaching. You just may need a special type of coach that fits your needs.
This coach sounds right on the money. She’s done you a favor.
You aren’t even doing the basics: consistency, volume, and following a plan. You don’t need a coach for optimizing the last 10% if you don’t do the first 90%.
I’d recommend any of the following options:
Just follow a TR plan or just use Train Now with your schedule
Embrace riding a lot of endurance (Z2) when you can and then insert a basic interval session once or twice a week. You can get pretty darn fit doing the basics.
I have a friend who maintains a 270 watt FTP through the winter on 5-6 hours per week and only 3.5 of those hours are on a bike. He does two 1 hour structured trainer sessions (usually FTP/Sweetspot) and 90 minutes of endurance. Three rides. Plus he swims for an hour per week and lifts weights an hour per week.
Hire a different coach if you really want that.
Or consult a coach on a regular basis. Coaches like Kolie Moore advertise consultations. You could consult with a coach for an hour per month, hour per quarter, etc. Set a training direction with some advice.
I disagree with orienting family life around out of state sporting events for children. 99.9999% of these kids are never going to be pro or make money at a sport. They don’t need to travel out of town to enjoy baseball, basketball, gymnastics, or any other sport. If it turns out that your kid is a generational talent and has a 90 VO2max, then that will show up eventually and they could pursue the sport of their choice more seriously.
Do you need a coach for 5-7 hours a week? She sounds like she’s trying to be very honest with you about what you both could expect with that time allotment. But if you like being coached, then I think that she’s just not the right one for you.
She’s dead wrong here. These don’t have to be two different things. You can enjoy getting better and improving performance even at a decrepit 43 years old after starting at 41 - ask me how I know
Having “you time” to ride a couple hours throughout the week isn’t selfish - that time is important for you to take care of you. Your family will be grateful for having a healthier, happier version of you to participate in their lives.
I disagree 100% with everything she said…IMO, it sounds like she lacked the skills and capabilities to adapt to your situation.
You aren’t a pro…you told her ahead of time what your schedule / availability would be, as well as your goals. She should have said then that it was not a situation that would work for her.
Now, whether you need a coach is a different question entirely…I would argue that you can use TrainNow on TR and get a good return on your time investments.
But the idea that you should give up on the sport because your schedule is erratic or because of your family obligations or should only be about “enjoyment” is bunk. YOU decide what you want from the sport and what “enjoyment” means to you.
In the end, she did you a favor because she doesn’t sound like a good fit…but I think it reflects more on her capabilities as a coach than you as an athlete.
I’m 45 years old and getting stronger on a LV TR plan at 3.5 hours a week. Two kids under 12, both play sports. It’s hectic. I tried doing a mid-volume plan last year but wasn’t consistent. Now? I’ve missed one workout since October. It sounds to me like you don’t actually have 5-7 hours a week, and as a result you’re being inconsistent in following a 5-7 hour a week plan. IMHO you’d be far better off with a 3-4 hour a week plan and executing it with rigor. There’s not much you can do about being sick, unless you’re stress level etc. has left you weak and vulnerable. Try TR for a couple months on a low volume plan and I bet you’ll see progress. Also have a long hard and honest look at where you are spending your time…do you get sucked into your phone? Do you watch TV? If you’re like many people you can probably claw back time by being more mindful about what you do and prioritize sleep and training over other things.
This is a hard schedule to deal with if you want to be a cyclist but its actually pretty easy to be very fit living that sort of life if you broaden your fitness horizons. I wasted most of my time I spent sitting at swim meets with my kids (actually I wasted it fitness wise but I did get a ton of work work done in between races that freed up so time for working out at other times). In terms of fitness, looking back, I could have used just a fraction of that meet time to get into killer shape. One thing about kids travel sports is there is downtime and often a lot of it. You can run anywhere any time and you’ll be staying in hotels with at least some sort of gyms. If you’re driving you can throw a couple kettlebells in the trunk and get a killer workout in in any parking lot (or take the bike but riding is kind of time consuming). Any event with in 50 miles or so you can ride to and catch a ride home with the fam.
Yeah, you can get pretty creative with a schedule when it comes to kids sports…when my kids were smaller, I was doing tri’s, so it was easy to sneak runs in. But riding to or back from events is still a tactic I use today.
Parent of 2 here (sounds like you have more!). While our children are absolutely incubators of diseases and we certainly get sick more often than before having them, being unable to train >50% of the time due to sickness doesn’t sound normal at all. Would have to guess there are other factors involved, like lack of sleep, stress, diet, or cramming in those 2-a-days. I would take a long and honest look at what changes you can make to be healthier, partly because being healthy is a prerequisite to being able to train effectively but mainly just because you owe it to yourself and your family to get healthy.
I’m also late 40s and fully agree you can still be competitive at this age and not just resign yourself to cycling being something you do for enjoyment. But it does also come down to priorities. It’s taken us quite a while to figure out a schedule that balances out all of what we want to do, and it’s constantly evolving. I’ll admit I’ve been a bit selfish at times about my cycling, I justify it to myself that in the long run having a happy and healthy dad/husband is good for everybody and not just me! I know parents who have put pretty much all their own hobbies on hold and devote all their spare time to their kids, I admire that but also know it’s not the way I’m wired and think at some point I’d resent making that level of sacrifice. So our kids absolutely get to do the things they are passionate and committed to, but we’ve also been fairly ruthless at times about making them prioritise what’s important to them and cutting activities if they’re not showing enough interest or commitment to them. I’ll also look for opportunities to fit my training in wherever I can. e.g. I’ve been known to take them to a sports match with the bike on the car and fit in a quick ride while they’re playing instead of watching the match. Not always, I’d always rather watch them play and train before or after, but if that’s the only way I’m fitting in a ride that day then sometimes that’s the least bad option.
That’s not what I wrote AT ALL. I said I don’t agree with orienting family life around out of town and out of state games. I have no problem with my kid pursuing sports locally, being on his school’s team, etc.
My kid ran cross country last year. He’s 12 and runs a 7 minute mile. He’s mid pack. There was an out of town meet that would have cost us 2 days of time and $600. We decided as a family (pretty quickly) that it wasn’t worth it for 7 more minutes of race time that season.
I was quite the youth athlete many moons ago (swimming). Things were different then. My parents were 100% supportive of me but the culture way back then did not require parents to be at every event and it definitely did not expect parents to travel. Eventually I got good enough to be traveling to meets but I didn’t do that until I was good enough, and old enough that we’d travel as a team without parents or at most a couple of parent chaperones. I ended up going out of state to college and my parents came to 1 meet during my college career. That was totally normal back then.
Unfortunately, it would be hard to try and change the current culture. The other members of the parent horde would not be supportive
Sorry… but when I saw the thread title my Dad brain automatically went to this: U Fired!!! - YouTube
Here is the hard truth… she’s just not that into you. With your schedule and family needs you were “more work” for her than she was willing to do. Maybe she just wants the easy “plug and play” client? Or maybe she really does have your best interest in mind… only she knows.
No doubt your family needs to be the priority in your life, but it doesn’t mean you can’t do things you enjoy. Personally I have found balance doing hour-ish rides during the week and 2-3 hours on the weekends (kids sleep in so by starting early I am able to get back in time to get them going). It is important that you take that time for you (without being selfish of course). It also means you provide that personal time for your partner so they can do what they enjoy as well. Physical and mental health are important… to you and as an example to your children.
Personally I would bypass the coach. Your life is crazy, been battling the “kinder-crud” and so are left doing what you can, when you can. I would sign up for TrainerRoad (if you haven’t already), use Train Now for your training and ride outside with friends or family on the weekends (because it is enjoyable and good for you) when you can. When life settles down a bit then look to more “structure” to your training. Cycling should be about enjoyment at every age (not just 40+). Do it because you want to, not because you have to.
This is a tough one. Maybe another coach’s perspective could help? Here’s mine if you want it.
Sounds like a mismatch between expectations and goals set up at the outset, not to set any blame on either of you but neither may have known it was worth touching on. When we get a client who’s busy, often sick from kids, etc, we try to set realistic expectations about fitness and improvements, and as long as we know that’s what we’re dealing with, we’ll work with you as long as you want us to and communicate what’s going on, but that communication is an expectation with us because it lets us do our job to the best ability we can, otherwise it’s literally shooting in the dark. Not that I’m trying to solicit business here, but if you want a coach, make sure that’s a main topic discussed and find one who’s okay with helping you manage workouts around life stress, and help decide when it’s time to pull back and rest or push forward with workouts. Now you know how to set up the expectations and relationship! I do hope that helps.
One other factor is it’s more work for a coach to manage a difficult schedule too, so that can influence not only whether someone wants to work with you, but also helps set up expectations of time and communication investment for both people. Some coaches are just workout and results focused, others work on making the best out of a tough situation, there’s all kinds and everyone has different strengths. Hopefully that helps you decide on the right coach for you, if you want to find another coach. But if you’ve got a bad taste in your mouth thinking about having a coach at all after this, I wouldn’t blame you.
You are clearly not able to follow a plan right now. There’s no point having a plan if you can’t follow it. The coach is right and is saving you money. Do TR train now as you have time to do so in balance with your busy life right now. You won’t always be so busy so maybe someday a coach and a plan will make sense and fit for you.