Should I hire a coach?
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  1. #1
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    Should I hire a coach?

    I'm 41. I have NO expectations of winning big races. I ride because I love it. I do however train a lot and I train hard. I want to maximize the benefits of this training... as we all do.

    Last year, I followed a typical 6 days on, 1 day off schedule with the expected range of easy to hard days. It worked... I think. Hard to tell - I don't have a copy of me doing a different plan ;) This year, I switched to a 4-day week. Most (all) of these days are hard - high intensity. It worked... I think.

    I have come to accept that I have a hard time riding without hammering. So, I switched to the current routine, e.g. fewer rides, higher intensity, more recovery.

    But how do I know if this is right? I am stronger than a year ago... but that's way (!) too vague to use as a guide.

    Would I benefit from working with a coach... well I guess that's obvious. I guess the better question is - is working with a coach the logical next step... or just a middle-aged amateur trying to feel like a "real" cyclist? Is there enough free info (articles, this forum, more experienced racers...) that I should save the money???

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    Cycle Boy
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    I have the same exact "question" on my mind as well.....I train pretty hard and am on the verge of hiring a trainer. Depending on how much it costs and how much free time you have on your hands, it really can't hurt. Just be sure he is reputable and not FOS.

    Having said that, there is a TON of information out there for you to piece together a great workout strategy, but regardless of how good you can be to yourself a 2nd "eye" is always helpful and much more objective when it comes to analyzing your results.

    I'm most likely going to go on a 3 to 6 month training program and see how this pans out. I was actually choosing between new wheels or training.......
    "It never gets easier, you just get faster" - Greg Lemond

  3. #3
    Cycling Coach
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    Well if you do then you'll want to work with a good coach but I'd also suggest a power meter if you are unsure about quantifying your improvement (or lack thereof). At least with a PM you'll know if your training is working and you'll really know if your coach is working. It is objective and provides for a high degree of accountability on both sides.

    Make sure your coach is savvy about using power.

    I've worked with many similar amateur level athletes and there is no doubt you can lift your performance to a new level.

    Good luck with it but makes sure whatever you do that the enjoyment remains.

  4. #4
    Impulse Athletic Coaching
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    First a powermeter, then a coach. This isn't specific to everyone. But to you, I think it fits perfectly.

    Try it for at least 3-6 months.

  5. #5
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    I firstly believe their is no age limit to coaching so it applies to all. The thing you have to weigh up is if the price is reasonable to you vs the benefit of them being able to provide a training plan that suits you goals and can solve the training problems that you can answer. The best way to solve the situation is to find some available coaches, give them a call or email explaining where you want to head towards and see if they can help you out.

    Personally i would have a peak over the internet cycling forums and websites, and establish whether you believe there is enough information to help yourself solve some of the issues or make any gains you are looking for. As Nitro and Alex said a powermeter is another great method of measuring whether you are moving forward or backwards in your training, but a tool is only valuable in the hands of someone who knows how to work it.

  6. #6
    USAC Level 2 Coach
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    Read Joe Freils The training Bible. Its what the coaches use, hell its what everyone uses.
    If you want to save money read it a few times and plan yourself, if not get a coach and they will distill the info for you in a form of a training plan. I use Missing Link Coaching and Training services. Very very reasonable price for high level coaching.

  7. #7
    Cycling Coach
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    Quote Originally Posted by LatvianRider
    Read Joe Freils The training Bible. Its what the coaches use, hell its what everyone uses.
    No, it isn't.

  8. #8
    USAC Level 2 Coach
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    Ok great. Not everyone uses it.

  9. #9
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    I did read it... well, I started reading it - it assumes you are using a power meter. More reason to get a pm huh.

  10. #10

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    I'm a middle-aged cyclist like you, looking to maximize the benefits of my training.

    I finally bit the bullet and hired a coach last March. My plan was to stick with him through October, but I've had such good results, I am going to stick w/him through the off-season as well.

    We did periodization, as your coach will probably also do. I had some really amazing results, took first in my age group in my first ever (citizen) bike race. Knocked over an hour off my time in RAIN (160 miles in one day)....best of all, I think, was hanging w/the leaders on the fast group ride and taking the bridge sprint.

    For me the benefit of knowing the workouts he prescribes are right to help me reach my goal, not just some willy-nilly mix of this and that.

    I think you should go for it, you will definitely benefit and probably wish you had done it sooner




    Quote Originally Posted by OldZaskar
    I'm 41. I have NO expectations of winning big races. I ride because I love it. I do however train a lot and I train hard. I want to maximize the benefits of this training... as we all do. Last year, I followed a typical 6 days on, 1 day off schedule with the expected range of easy to hard days. It worked... I think. Hard to tell - I don't have a copy of me doing a different plan ;) This year, I switched to a 4-day week. Most (all) of these days are hard - high intensity. It worked... I think.

    I have come to accept that I have a hard time riding without hammering. So, I switched to the current routine, e.g. fewer rides, higher intensity, more recovery.

    But how do I know if this is right? I am stronger than a year ago... but that's way (!) too vague to use as a guide.

    Would I benefit from working with a coach... well I guess that's obvious. I guess the better question is - is working with a coach the logical next step... or just a middle-aged amateur trying to feel like a "real" cyclist? Is there enough free info (articles, this forum, more experienced racers...) that I should save the money???

    Thanks.

  11. #11
    but thinking about it
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    Quote Originally Posted by OldZaskar
    Would I benefit from working with a coach... well I guess that's obvious. I guess the better question is - is working with a coach the logical next step... or just a middle-aged amateur trying to feel like a "real" cyclist? Is there enough free info (articles, this forum, more experienced racers...) that I should save the money???
    OldZaskar, if you don't hire a coach, will you look at (and understand) all that free info? Will you stick with the plans you make based on looking at it? What will you do if you see conflicting information? Would you rather spend the money to get (hopefully) expert advice and save yourself that time?

  12. #12
    Impulse Athletic Coaching
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    Many coaches have coaches. Not for the advice on workouts, periodization, etc...

    ...but to keep them honest. If you skip a ride, you still have to report to someone.

  13. #13
    Cycling Coach
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    Quote Originally Posted by iliveonnitro
    Many coaches have coaches. Not for the advice on workouts, periodization, etc...

    ...but to keep them honest. If you skip a ride, you still have to report to someone.
    I have a coach and three of my clients are professional coaches. One at Olympic/WorldNational level (now retired).

  14. #14
    What? Me worry?
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    Quote Originally Posted by OldZaskar
    I'm 41. I have NO expectations of winning big races. I ride because I love it. I do however train a lot and I train hard. I want to maximize the benefits of this training... as we all do.
    Don't take this the wrong way, but it appears to me that you may be over-obsessing about your cycling, particularly at your stage in life. (This is coming from the king of over-obsessors).

    Before you hire a coach, you should take a little time and think very hard about what your long term goals in cycling are. Consider the other important things in your life, like your family, your work, and the quality time you need to devote to them. Once you have all those things prioritized, if you still feel that you have the time and the money and the motivation that would justify riding at a level that needs a coach, then go for it. Do recognize that at 41 the "bang for buck" you're going to get out of hiring a coach is going to be minimal, particularly since you have no expectations about racing.

    My experience has taught me that to enjoy cycling as a lifetime sport, a measured approach is necessary. Ride for the love of it and for the health and enjoyment it brings. You don't need a coach for that, and, in fact, a coach might even be counterproductive to those goals.

  15. #15
    What? Me worry?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alex_Simmons/RST
    I have a coach and three of my clients are professional coaches. One at Olympic/WorldNational level (now retired).
    Is there a link between coaching and psychiatry? All my analysts have analysts too

  16. #16
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    StillRiding...

    Initially, I read your reply (first line) and started to get defensive... but to a point you're right. I do have to keep this in check - this competitive aspect. When I said "No expectations of winning big races" I didn't mean no expectation of racing or doing well in local races. I do want to start road racing (2010) and would love to get on a podium or two - local stuff.

    This year I got a first and a second in Cat 2 mtb races. My goal for this year was getting on the podium one time in the Georgia series. The 2nd place checked that box. I surprised myself by relaxing a bit after that - it was actually my last race this year... other than a century in 3 weeks... but that's not a race... right ;)

    I have a great family - wife, two daughters. I own a business. I ride bikes. To your point - keeping that order straight has got to remain a priority. I have blurred the lines in the past.

    Thanks for the reply.
    Last edited by OldZaskar; 10-06-2009 at 05:05 AM.

  17. #17
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    This question is so personal it's almost impossible for people on the Interwebs to answer for you. For example, you
    *MIGHT* get more out of cycling if you spent money on someone to do your laundry so you could have more time to read more training manuals and ride. A laundry service is generally less expensive than a coach, yes?

    It all comes down to your disposable income and your personality. I would think a very experienced coach could devise a plan for you that would make you a stronger cyclist...if you have the money and the drive to follow the plan.

    But don't ask us. Go talk to some local coaches and get three client references from each. Grill the references and listen to what they say.

    In NYC, hiring a personal trainer, yoga instructor, cycling coach, financial advisor, psychiatrist, etc. is just the thing to do. I ride with many guys who have spent thousands of dollars on coaching. Some of them have had great success, some have not.

    A good friend of mine has had a coach for the past 18 months. It's made him a stronger cyclist, but not a better racer. He's on a team, where he's still not the fastest sprinter nor the best climber. So you know what he does? He works for the team, chasing down breaks and leading out the sprinters. He seems happy, but he's sure as heck not on the podium. More power to him, I guess.
    Riding to break the cycle of breast cancer in the Young Survival Coalition Tour de Pink--3 days, 200 miles.
    www.ysctourdepink.org

  18. #18
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    so after reading this it seems i need to save up for powertap before investing in coach/training?

    (not trying to steal your thread

  19. #19
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    "Power"ful Goals

    Quote Originally Posted by apxbiker
    so after reading this it seems i need to save up for powertap before investing in coach/training?
    Well really the first step is to determine what your goals are which seemed to have been assumed in a lot of these post. That will help you determine what training plan to follow and if you need a coach to help you develop that training plan. Then you (and your coach) can look at your training plan and determine what tools (power meter, HR monitor...) you need to get feedback on how your training plan is working and what modifications need to be made.

    One thing that many coaches fail to look at is the big picture, particularly internet based coaches. They have their athletes riding the gerbil wheel in the basement totally focussed on their computer readouts. If your goals go beyond attaining a particular power output or time trials then there are lot more things to learn. Many times a weaker rider can outperform a stonger rider in a race by riding smarter (road race tactics) or riding better (crit corner handling).

    So before you rush out to buy speed by purchasing a power meter or hiring a coach first look at your goals. Then determine what your limiters are that are keeping you from reaching those goals. Decide if you or a coach or going to develop the training plan to overcome your limitations and enhance your strengths to meet your goals. The last thing you should do is buy a tool (powermeter) until you have the goals and the plan.
    Luck is the intersection of preparation and opportunity.

  20. #20
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    No, you don't. A power meter won't make you faster; riding will make you faster.

    It's the off-season now, so most coaches will have you start building a base with LSD rides (long slow distance). Don't really need a power meter for that. In fact, heart rate or perceived exertion might even be more helpful at this point. A coach will probably tell you to keep your heart rate or PE under a certain level for multiple hours on the bike.

    But, again, it all depends on your goals. What do you want the coach to help you accomplish?

    Quote Originally Posted by apxbiker
    so after reading this it seems i need to save up for powertap before investing in coach/training?

    (not trying to steal your thread
    Riding to break the cycle of breast cancer in the Young Survival Coalition Tour de Pink--3 days, 200 miles.
    www.ysctourdepink.org

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Keeping up with Junior
    Well really the first step is to determine what your goals are which seemed to have been assumed in a lot of these post. That will help you determine what training plan to follow and if you need a coach to help you develop that training plan. Then you (and your coach) can look at your training plan and determine what tools (power meter, HR monitor...) you need to get feedback on how your training plan is working and what modifications need to be made.

    One thing that many coaches fail to look at is the big picture, particularly internet based coaches. They have their athletes riding the gerbil wheel in the basement totally focussed on their computer readouts. If your goals go beyond attaining a particular power output or time trials then there are lot more things to learn. Many times a weaker rider can outperform a stonger rider in a race by riding smarter (road race tactics) or riding better (crit corner handling).

    So before you rush out to buy speed by purchasing a power meter or hiring a coach first look at your goals. Then determine what your limiters are that are keeping you from reaching those goals. Decide if you or a coach or going to develop the training plan to overcome your limitations and enhance your strengths to meet your goals. The last thing you should do is buy a tool (powermeter) until you have the goals and the plan.
    wow that made alot of sense, i am 19 and cat1 mtb'er looking to become a successful roadie and i do intervals and ride lots but not much structure i guess i will talk to a few coaches, thanks for the reply

  22. #22
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    +1

    best post of the year

    Quote Originally Posted by Keeping up with Junior
    Well really the first step is to determine what your goals are which seemed to have been assumed in a lot of these post. That will help you determine what training plan to follow and if you need a coach to help you develop that training plan. Then you (and your coach) can look at your training plan and determine what tools (power meter, HR monitor...) you need to get feedback on how your training plan is working and what modifications need to be made.

    One thing that many coaches fail to look at is the big picture, particularly internet based coaches. They have their athletes riding the gerbil wheel in the basement totally focussed on their computer readouts. If your goals go beyond attaining a particular power output or time trials then there are lot more things to learn. Many times a weaker rider can outperform a stonger rider in a race by riding smarter (road race tactics) or riding better (crit corner handling).

    So before you rush out to buy speed by purchasing a power meter or hiring a coach first look at your goals. Then determine what your limiters are that are keeping you from reaching those goals. Decide if you or a coach or going to develop the training plan to overcome your limitations and enhance your strengths to meet your goals. The last thing you should do is buy a tool (powermeter) until you have the goals and the plan.
    Riding to break the cycle of breast cancer in the Young Survival Coalition Tour de Pink--3 days, 200 miles.
    www.ysctourdepink.org

  23. #23
    Impulse Athletic Coaching
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    Quote Originally Posted by team_sheepshead
    It's the off-season now, so most coaches will have you start building a base with LSD rides (long slow distance). Don't really need a power meter for that. In fact, heart rate or perceived exertion might even be more helpful at this point. A coach will probably tell you to keep your heart rate or PE under a certain level for multiple hours on the bike.
    Oh do they?



    You sir, are wrong.

  24. #24
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    So for a road racer who won't be racing again until next March or April, please enlighten us.

    Quote Originally Posted by iliveonnitro
    Oh do they?



    You sir, are wrong.
    Riding to break the cycle of breast cancer in the Young Survival Coalition Tour de Pink--3 days, 200 miles.
    www.ysctourdepink.org

  25. #25
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    I was in your same position about hiring a coach. After riding 6 months with a power meter and reading tons of info on the net and books, it still wasn't making sense because I had no one to look at my numbers and give me feedback. So after evaluating my goals, work, and family life, I decided to get a coach. After having a coach, I have to agree that you need one if your goals call for it. I had bought all this fancy equipment but wasn't utilizing it properly. Getting a coach also help me to be more consistent. Doesn't make sense to pay for the workouts if you don't do them. I'm definitely riding stronger and faster.

    And yes it's off season, but my coach doesn't have me doing LSD entirely. My workouts are still intense while still doing a little more LSD.
    Quote Originally Posted by California L33
    Well, if today's professional coaches are anything like the coaches when I went to high school, you should expect them to cost nothing, have no education or qualifications, give very little good advice, but scream about your mother's promiscuity and question your sexuality every time you're in earshot. You should also expect to bleed, bleed, bleed.

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