I’ve worked with two different coaches in roughly the last ten years and am personal friends with 3-4 guys who have good coaching businesses running.
First coach I worked with was highly regarded, I liked him personally and he focused on time trials which I wanted to improve. Spent six months with him and it just didn’t work. First, he was giving me his workouts not the workouts I needed. Second, while we had good entering dialog and I’d known him for over a year before employing him, I wasn’t getting the pre-week and post-week feedback I wanted or felt I needed. Third, he got pinched for doping. That doesn’t particularly relate to coaching competence but it did explain some behaviors. In any case, felt no remorse at leaving him and chalked up the dollars spent to gaining experience.
Second coach was much less well regarded and less known. He raced the same series and events I did so there was a high frequency of face to face interaction. He was looking to build his portfolio and offered me a great monthly rate for “high touch” plan. I eventually brought him to our race team as a sponsor and he ended up coaching 4 or 5 of our TT focused riders. All to good results at a very good value. He and I worked extremely well together for about four years and I’m grateful for what he taught me about training and racing as well as our friendship. I eventually left this coach as he stopped racing, his business grew too large, the personal interactions went to very low level and it was clear he was over-extended and relying on cookie cutter plans. That isn’t all as negative as it sounds and I was happy his business was thriving. But it was no longer helping me achieve results and we’d probably outgrown each other in the athlete - coach manner that happens. In fairness, I also wanted to coach myself and see if I could do it well.
Am currently self coached for the past three seasons and very happy about it. Nobody but myself to blame or congratulate for results or lack thereof. Utilize TR mostly for the interface, calendar and workout database. It’s fun and I enjoy completing the TR workouts. Have used Chad’s very solid plans as a rough guide but with high modification.
Should note that my version of self-coached is not 100% me. Have a good friend and top level USAC coach whom I consult 2-3 times per season to go over what I’ve planned and how it is going. We’ll talk once before Build to go over current fitness, goal races and plan. Then again toward start of season and again mid-season. Along with general e-mail bantering through the year and I see him at a few races. I do compensate him for professional time spent with me by insisting he sends me a bill.
No question that formal coaching can be hit or miss and value for cost is in the eye of the individual paying the bill. It will change over time for a variety of reasons and evaluating every season is more than fair.
Programs like TR are a great value and following the plans can achieve solid results. At some point though having personalized attention could prove useful to make new gains. Also, TR is training not racing. Racing is not just about a power number. It’s OK to nail your training but need help in other areas such as nutrition or race craft.
If self-coached you definitely need the self-discipline to plan and execute the plan. The third party accountability a coach offers is definitely motivating for many people. How much you are willing to pay for that third-party accountability is again an individual item.
I think a coach that only offers power based training plans has limited value. I would look for someone who can do that and also offer good race advice and race evaluation to help develop your race craft.
If self-coached it may still be worth having a second set of eyes look at your plan and data. We all have blind spots.
To answer the key question posed by John - I complete my workouts and yearly plan without third party or coach-accountability. It’s a toss up to if I’m better or worse w/out a coach. But I do take pleasure in planning an executing my own training vs having the plan sent to me each week.