8 Reasons You Should Start Working with a Coach

There are times in your sport, your job or life where you turn to someone else with experience and knowledge to help you progress and develop. All too often we get far beyond that point in our lives before we actually ask for help and when we do, we look back at all the decisions we had subsequently made before seeking guidance and we ask ourselves: "Why did I wait so long?!". Here we explore some tell-tale signs that indicate that it is time for you to stop being self-coached or relying on "free" coaching from clubs and invest in yourself and start working with a coach in a more formal manner. 

As discussed in Alan's blog here, athletes fill a complete spectrum in their requirements of and participation in the sport. Equally, coaches all fit into a spectrum of their own, which somewhat mirrors the needs of the athlete. Therefore, this article may be just as applicable to an athlete who is already receiving some coaching but is considering moving to a different level within their sport – like a hermit crab changing its shell! 

In other words, there is no shame in saying that there are horses for courses and both the athlete and prospective coach needs to be aware of that. Having the right coach is amazingly rewarding, having the wrong one can be beyond frustrating. Working with a stable of coaches at Tri Training Harder means that we have a consistent coaching approach, but a varied coaching pool, meaning we can easily assign the right coach to you. On top of this we then have the capacity for you to move internally if, for whatever reason, your 'shell' needs to change.

Working with someone else can offer a new perspective, challenges and excitement to an upcoming season

It is known that coaching works and there are lots of proven benefits. However, here are some thoughts that may strike a chord if you are at a turning point in your triathlon career:

1. You feel you need a coach yourself:  This can be the perfect time to start looking for someone to help you progress. This may be for a new goal, a new season, full time or part time. This may be just to have a sounding board, or to help completely direct your training. Only you will know, but the outcome is the same if you feel you need one, you probably do.

2. You are beginning to plateau: results are the same, training plans are the same and you have become stale. If you recognise that you are going through the motions and being consistent in results, but other people are starting to catch up, it may well be time to shift to a new coaching set up. 

3. Repetition:You have been listening to the same advice, or suggestions for some time and you just want a change! A great coach will evolve with each athlete. Sometimes though, when you are coaching yourself, you end up working in a comfort zone or envelope and you only have an experience group of n=1 to learn from. A coach will bring fresh eyes to the same problem with a vast array of experience of what works and what doesn't and can fast track your learning curve making your gains more efficient.

4. You want a plan that looks at you rather than you looking at the plan: With the plethora of free plans and content out there which you can easily find yourself, it is only too simple to end up looking for the plan that fits you perfectly rather than creating the perfect plan for you. Working with someone who is looking objectively at you, your strengths, weaknesses, aims, ambitions and parameters can make the world of difference. 

5. You have a dream or goal that scares you: You have just signed up to your first long distance event, or you have dared yourself to qualify for a championship event, or podium, or win. Suddenly, things have become more serious than before. Just because things are serious doesn't mean you can't have fun. However, it means that each session has a little bit more weight than before. You want to train as efficiently as possible to make best use of the time that being a time-pressured triathlete, you really don't have!

6. You are one of the fastest in your club or training circle: This can be a sure sign that you have become a big fish in a small pond. This is great as it means that you can find yourself feeling very confident, but it means that suddenly many of the training sessions you are completing could be done better. It also means that you are likely to become the person to ask questions and challenge. Training becomes less about you, but more about other people trying to beat you – which is racing, not training! 

7. Missing Sessions/Inconsistent Training: If you find yourself missing training sessions or losing your consistency and not really knowing why, this is a certain time to start talking to a coach. Inconsistency can have so many causes, that by working with a coach their knowledge and understanding can significantly reduce the time spent being inconsistent and improve the time spent training!

8. Self Doubt: If you find yourself asking the question: "Am I doing the right thing?" you are losing faith in your own knowledge and expertise. Essentially, you have gone as far as you are confident you can go. This is not the same as saying you have reached your pinnacle in sport, rather you have an opportunity to consolidate what you have learnt already and start reaching for the next goal with someone who will help you learn more about yourself.

The ultimate partnership is when you have someone who is willing to work alongside you to provide the environment for you to flourish.

The key thing to remember is that when you go from being self coached to coached, you have one more person added to your team. Their only goal is to get you achieving. This may be a long or a short process, but it will be a process itself. Your goal isn't to try and prove yourself to anyone it is to work in a meaningful partnership. This can be tough, take swallowing your pride at times and learning from the other person (And that is true for both the athlete and the coach.) [Read about adjusting to life with a coach here.]

However, if you do take the leap, and you do find the right coach for you, then the rewards can reach far further than just a race performance. The question is, do you want to take that leap of faith?