WHY HIRE A COACH?
Many people are shocked when they hear that I have a coach – “wait, you have a coach?!?!” “why would a coach need a coach?” “Don’t you know how to write your own plan?”
Of course I know how to write my own plan, of course I know what I need as an athlete to get better, but let me tell you that no matter how much I know as a coach, there is nothing as great as having another professional in my corner helping me to achieve my goals.
I have a number of things I want from my coach, and as it turns out (after talking to our athletes at Evolve about this), my reasons for hiring a coach are very similar to theirs.
Coaching when done well is both and art and science. In today's blog we are going to cover the science piece of coaching and why it matters.
If you are looking to hire a coach to get you to the next level in your endurance career, here are a few of the reasons why taking the leap to being coach makes a ton of sense.
While we believe that there needs to be a healthy mix between using data and not (focus too much on any one thing and you begin to get tunnel vision), a good coach should know how to use data, how to best test athletes, what tests make sense for a particular athlete, and then how to apply and understand the data in a way that matters and moves the athlete ahead in his or her career. We see many athletes who come to us and are amazing data collectors, but do not know how to read or use the data to set up a plan. I expect my coach to use the data that I produce to tailor my plan towards reaching my goals. Many un-coached athletes share this same perspective, “before having a coach, I just trained for distance and without data. I wasn't making gains because I was training in the wrong zones and my body was never fully recovered. Having a coach helps you learn [about] your own body more and how to properly push and build without injury.”
This is the biggest issue that many athletes have who are not training with guidance. Yesterday morning I had a recovery run – the purpose of this run is to allow my legs to flush out some lactic acid and to not stress the body while getting in some time on my feet. It was early in the morning and the sun was just coming up, but as with most early am runs, “Runner Guy” down the block was headed out in his full splits and HR strap as his only attire. When I saw him in the distance, I wanted to yell to him – Yo! Recovery run! WAIT – DID YOU HEAR ME – THIS IS MY RECOVERY RUN!!! Just to reassure him (well myself) that I was not a slacker. And then the coach voice in my head said Silly Sam – you know better. As one of our athletes put it, “Recovery! Recovery! Recovery! Non coached athletes will almost always miss this. Either too much or not enough and that leads to injuries [or minimal gains, or plateaus].” Knowing that I needed this run as part of my program – that my coach was there on the other end waiting on my HR data, made it really easy to not puff up the chest and pick up the pace. Instead I held it steady, knowing that this is just what I needed to make gains in the long run, although I did think about getting a shirt that said RECOVERY RUN IN PROGRESS.
The Right Application of Workouts
The right coach will know how to craft a plan where all the puzzle pieces fit just right and the training load produces solid results for the particular athlete. It takes out the guess work from training – or the all too easy pitfall of doing what everyone else is doing even when you know it is not the best thing for you. Many non-coached athletes pick up a book or an online program – which are usually pretty great places to start, but if said athlete starts to mess with the order of the pieces, does not stick to the prescribed workout - like skipping the warm-up/cool-down, or pushing too hard, or always doing his friend Fred’s run workout instead of his own plan then it totally defeats the purpose of the plan. The right coach should be able to get you to what we call the “Goldilocks Effect” – not too much, not too little, but just right. As one of our athletes put it, “I hired a coach because I don't want to think. I am tired of wondering what to do and when to do it to maximize my training. I also feel like I hit a peak in my performance. I've taken myself as far as I can with my own training plans. Most serious athletes think "I should be doing more" all the time. I need someone to say - this is the right amount of training for your goals.”
Like most athletes, I simply love getting my weekly workouts, reading through them, plotting how I will execute each one of them – most of us love structure, it makes us tick and having a coach takes out the stress of figuring it all out on your own.
When we meet with potential clients we talk to them about how being an endurance athlete is not just about the sport – proper nutrition on and off the course will maximize your potential and can either produce some really awesome results, or stop you dead in your tracks. Nutrition is essential when it comes to endurance sports and the longer the race the more it matters. At Evolve all of our athletes are given nutritional advice and we are very lucky to have Jennifer McDaniel of McDaniel Nutrition Therapy to be able to assist athletes when they need more help with nailing their nutrition. Knowledge of fueling is essential when it comes to a coach. – all of our athletes have a fueling plan for their races, without this it can be very hard to achieve what they are capable of at a race.
Of course there is far more we can touch on here, but these are some of the most important things to consider when it comes to understanding why a coach might be right for you this upcoming season.
More to come on this subject!