Should I fire my coach and stick to TR?

Hello everyone,

I’d like to share my thoughts with you and would appreciate your feedback.
(Sorry in advance if you find my English not 100% understandable or find any kind of typos / misspelled words… I’m Spanish and English is not my native language :sweat_smile: )

A little bick of background before we dig deep into the details:

28 y/o
Average triathlete that started the wrong way jumping straight into an Ironman competition. Not competing since July 2018 (it was a half-IM with a finishing time of 5:15 - bike split for 90km/1100m+: 2:45h)
Training consistently 10+ hours (including strength training) on the bike since August
FTP August: 244W @64kg
Working as an in-house management consultant for a Bank in a “09:00-to-20:00” basis

I’m racing the next edition of the ABSA Cape Epic, taking place 15th-22nd March 2020. Since I’m an average rider, I decided to hire a coach that would help me achieve my goals and boost my cycling fitness. We started working together mid August and laid out the planning for the season. Taking into account that we are still way too far from my A-race (B- & C- stage races will take place between January and February), he decided that the best way to go was doing a long traditional base. So far, so good.

Nevertheless, I’m almost 3 months into the planned season and I’m not perceiving tangible improvements. I haven’t tested my FTP since August, but I feel that it hasn’t changed that much. Due to my working schedule I only have ~1.5 - 2 hours a day to train, but the workouts that my coach is planning for me are 95% of the time Z2 rides. Mon-Fri I do 1-1:15 hours Z2 rides and clock more hours in the saddle (both on road & MTB) in the weekends. Are these 1-hour-Z2-indoor rides providing any benefit or have I just “wasted” my time for 3 months?

I’ve recently switched from Zwift to TR and had a look at the training plans. The proposed approach differs a lot when compared to my the plan my coach is developing for me. In a TR Traditional Base, rides are way longer. In a TR SSBase, rides are the same duration but include “quality work”. As you can imagine, my perception right now is that I haven’t been working in the most optimal way.

Another thing I noticed is that Build and Specialty phases are designed to last 8 weeks each in the TR plans, while my coach’s approach include 7 weeks of Build phase and 6 of peak phase.

I know this is not an exact science, but would like to know if I’m better off firing my coach and following TR plans. Most of my rides are solo, but when I train with my MTB grupetto I feel a lack of punch and think I’m not that fit after 3 months of “traditional base”

Thank you very much in advance for your feedback.

TR plans make you faster if you stick to them and are consistent. Sometimes there is too much intensity for some people but it is easy to switch out the cycling workouts with alternates.

I cannot comment on your coach but there is a 2020 IM thread where you can get some good advice along with multiple Kona qualifiers.

For me though I have been on TR for 2 years and love the platform, value, podcast, forum, calendar and awesome community along with stand up guys that run the company.


If you look at trainer road’s “traditional base”, there is also a lot less intensity than in sweet spot base. You have probably done something more like that, so it’s not all wasted. The purpose of the base phase is to develop a lot of aerobic fitness, and its quite common that there isn’t a lot of obvious improvement during this phase, especially at the punchy ens of power (apart from for very new riders). That is more what the build phase is for, intensity should ramp up with hopefully improments across the power curve. The peak phase is then again more to shape your existing fitness to the race demands, and improvements might be smaller again.

So far, I don’t think you have been doing much wrong. Different coaches will have different ideas if you could have spend your time better, but I don’t think it was completely wasted (but I’m not a coach).

Should you fire your coach? I don’t know, I would talk to them about your concerns first. Coaches can provide more than just a training plan, I would also think if there is anything else you get from him that is helping you.


For me the biggest advantage of having a coach is getting to ask why.

Your coach should be able to explain the purpose of every session and the general plan leading into the event. If he/she can’t or won’t do that then I would definitely consider going elsewhere.

Feeling comfortable giving feedback, expressing concerns and talking freely about your training/nutrition/races/whatever is very important.

The whole point of coaching is take away the doubt you have when self coaching. It should give you confidence and motivation that you are moving forward in the best way possible and that your training is tailored to your requirements.

Have this conversation with your coach and see why you are doing what you are doing and how they see the training progressing toward your goal before you decide to leave or change coach.

The one piece of feedback I would give is that the cape epic is an endurance event with a capital E. A very large base will be crucial so I can see why your coach would focus on this.


Thank you for your answers @splash @janerney and @ericallenboyd

I’m a true believer of developing a solid foundational base. My only concern is that perhaps I haven’t spent enough time @Z2 with those 1-hour rides Mon-Fri and could have spent them doing something akin to SSB. Can a very large base be built on those kind of “short” endurance workouts? (Even though on weekends I spend 4+ hours in the saddle each day). Now that the important weeks are coming I want to be 100% sure that I have the right coach with me, so just wanted to know your opinion on how my training plan unfolded so far.

You still have 4 and a half months and you say you have been training for 3. As far as I can see you have a considerable amount of time to work with, and spending an extended amount of time working on your base and building this slowly doesn’t doesn’t seem like a poor use of time.

I would imagine you will start to transition to workout types soon but I would talk to your coach about this again.

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As the others said you should talk with your coach. Since a constant feedback loop is one of the main benefits of having a coach, isn’t it?

I understand your concerns about the short z2 rides but I think a possible answer could be to not build too much fatigue during the week along with your long working days. So favor a consistent easy stimulus during the week and nail some quality the weekend.

If you feel you can handle the stress you might ask your coach to switch one of the week workouts to more intensity. Maybe that does not fit in the bigger picture, maybe it does :man_shrugging:


Have you spoken with any other athletes your coach has trained? It may be reassuring to hear from them what their experiences were and hearing how their goals were either met or not met.

Base can be boring but it is really critical. Your body is building the adaptations that are going to be the foundation of the more intense work you do later. These changes come slowly but when carefully developed should be long lasting.

Best of luck in the Cape Epic!!

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I’m also doing Cape Epic 2020. See you there!
It sounds like your concern is whether your coach is using your time effectively, and the difference between the programme and what is prescribed in TrainerRoad. I suggest you ask your coach to walk you through how they have structured your plan, and to explain why it might be different from TR.

FWIW my wife and I are both using TR plans, with some MTB-specific weekends away and the Lanzarote 4 Day race at the end of January as a tune up. We used TR before the Swiss Epic in July to good effect, adding in mid-week racing after work for extra intensity, skills, and time on the MTB. I think TR works really well, and the mid-volume plans let you add on discipline specific work around it. But a coach can potentially be even more tailored and focussed for your own constraints/aims.


The cost/benefit of the TrainerRoad plans are among the best value in endurance sports! I know nothing of your coach and mean no disrespect to him/her, but the TR plans are probably better designed than many coaches charging MUCH MORE than TR charges.

Outside of the actual plan (which is a minor part of what a GOOD coach can provide), there is having the ability to have your questions answered and accountability. This forum along with the TR blog posts and podcast content go a long way with answering your questions. Regarding accountability, a GOOD coach provides this, but there are other methods. You can find a mentor in many ways such as a training partner, member of local Tri club or cycling club, rival from racing, or even a friend on social media. A good mentor, if you are lucky enough to find one, can be more valuable than the actual training plan. The mentor can be a paid coach or one of the other options that I mentioned earlier. Good luck with your journey!

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