What is a coach anyway?

Given the communication expectations they set, and what you received, I’d be ready fire that coach. At the level I’m paying for, my coach does one call a block (either every 3 or 4 weeks, depending on block length).

Regarding performance, my belief is that you achieve something together. A rough analogy is that you are the puppet, and the coach is the puppeteer. Or as someone on the forum once said “I’m just the monkey on the bike” :joy: I prefer to think of each block, or even just a single week, as an experiment and the coach is looking for a response. I’ve had a lot of life happens moments and my coach changes workouts to accommodate and attempt to keep me on track for the goals of the block. As a result, my coach has me sustainably doing 8-10 hours/week, about 400-600 TSS/week, and that despite turning sixty this year we have improved my durability, and raised both (estimated) vo2max and power curve to nearly all-time highs from 5 years ago.

My workouts are easy, nothing like TR plans. We do 1 formal FTP test a year, and a I do at least one threshold pacing effort every 3 months. I’ve listed some of the reasons in another thread, but bottom line more frequent testing hasn’t been necessary and hasn’t influenced results. I’ve embraced heart rate zones six and half years ago, before getting a power meter. We actively use both. Ran across this quote from Matt Fitzgerald recently:

“Also note that if you are an intermediate- or advanced-level cyclist and you use heart rate as your primary intensity metric, you probably don’t need to update your zones very often. This is because LTHR doesn’t change a lot with changes in fitness once you’re past the beginner (or starting-over) phase. What you will find as you gain fitness is that you produce more power at the same heart rates. Indeed, one simple way to update your pace or power zones is to do a test where you ride at your current known LTHR and identify the corresponding power, then plug this number into the appropriate calculator. For example, if you know that your LTHR is consistently stable at 160 BPM but you notice that you’re producing more watts at any given HR lately, do a ride where you lock into a heart rate of 160 BPM and note the corresponding power. Say your power is 250 watts at this HR. This, then, is your approximate FTP. It’s best to do this particular test within the context of a scheduled ride that targets Zone 3.”

Source: Intensity Guidelines for Cycling | 80/20 Endurance

I’m not using heart rate as a primary metric, but I’ve been using that method since buying a power meter almost six years ago. Works great for me, and FWIW I also have a really good sense of pacing longer 30-60 minute efforts at threshold. My Garmin also does a great job at estimating FTP using machine learning on HRV, HR, and power, provided I use a small fudge factor and do a moving average to cut out the noise.

Hope that helps.

1 Like

No need to call them out, but definitely a need to fire them and frankly I’d be asking for a partial refund as they’re simply not delivering the service you are paying for.

Riding more than twice as much is a pretty surefire way to increase fitness regardless of what rides you’re actually doing! And that kind of volume increase tends to self regulate pretty well as it’s simply not possible to cope with it while going hard all the time, you learn very quickly that maintaining doubled volume means plenty of z2 miles. Which I guess has a lot to do with your lack of injuries. No FTP tests and likely having all your zones too low as a result would also help with injury avoidance, but also means you might plateau sooner rather than later as the benefits of the volume start to taper off and you’re not getting the progressive structure you need to continue to improve.

I think a TR plan would certainly be an improvement over what you’re getting now. Would at least give you a good current estimate of FTP and thus workouts which challenge and stretch you to continue your progress. If you feel that things like race feedback would be of sufficient value to you then talk to team mates and competitors to find a coach in your area who is actually providing that service. Wouldn’t bother giving existing coach any more chances though, they’ve slipped way below even the basics of what they should be providing.

Agree. I have a close enough relationship with my coach she’ll provide whatever level of discussion about workouts or races or the plan I want if I ask or if she feels it’s critical she gets answers out of me about a race. Question one after every race is almost always “how’d that go?” Or “how’d that’d feel?” And then she might get into power numbers or something. It all depends on the race of course. If it’s a race I’m not really racing it won’t be critical.

Honestly, for me that communication is key. The most frequent question I get is “how’d that feel?” And most often that’s after a workout that’s hard so she wants to sort out if what the workout data says matches my perception and feeling. It’s like the question at the end of the TR workouts. She’s using that to potentially tweak my future workouts.

All this is a fancy way of saying, “Efficiency Factor is probably the most underrated metric in cycling.” :laughing:

And that’s true, IMO.

I have my athletes do quite a few rides by HR, and we track HR on the rides where we’ve got a power target. In a base, aerobic development phase, I think riding by HR is perfectly viable. (I’d love to have everyone ride by RPE, but many athletes don’t have that sense well developed). Whichever one you pick - power, HR, or RPE - to ride by, the relationship between HR and power is critical to monitor for long term performance gains (IMO).

You do run into problems with decoupling for a lot of people after 3 hrs, but that can also be trained, and IMO is a pretty good indication that you need more aerobic development at that duration.

1 Like

If I don’t leave a how it felt comment, for ANYTHING in TrainingPeaks, then within 1-3 days I’ll get a coach comment email/notification asking to add that. My coach insists on those comments in every workout no matter if its core maintenance or unplanned walk that I record.

1 Like

Pretty common to have to police athletes for comments, unfortunately.

Then again, I have one athlete where I know a ride went well when I see a comment or get a text message. When I don’t see a comment or get a message, I know he didn’t do what he was intended to do (or skipped it altogether). I think he’s thinking I won’t notice. :laughing: All good.

I’m a quick learner :wink: and starting making sure my feeling comments were added within 3 hours post-workout.

I’ve been around a couple different age group swim teams that were well coached. On any well coached team, the number one way to get in trouble, even worse than missing practice, is not to stop by your coach immediately after your race for a quick race debrief. Doesn’t matter if your a 16 year old league champion or newbie 6 year old. Everyone gets a debrief. They start drilling that into the kids day 1.


I have a coach and pay around what you pay. I hired them specifically because I signed up for Unbound as a brand-new-to-bikes person with zeeeero fitness and I needed to know that any failings weren’t because I didn’t know what I didn’t know.

I get weekly training schedules based on my availability, macros/nutrition guidelines to fuel before/during/after individual workouts, and 1:1s for event strategy as I want them. I also get encouragement, the benefit of sharing from her experiences, and overall a proven method that has guided me to some pretty great 2nd-year gains.

I am expected to put in comments around the work-outs and I send a “how it went” recap for my events, either in the app or via email. I have her number to text/call but I don’t really use my phone for that. Ha. I’ll be setting up a chat to go over SBT strategy soon and review my fueling plan.

I feel like a good coach has been worth every penny and I’ve personally been very happy at the level of engagement. I wouldn’t be happy with weekly calls though :smiley: That’s just not for me.