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Old 10-24-07, 07:17 PM   #1
brett_beddow
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Coaches

Reading the post about switching coaches brings back something I wondered about a while back. How necessary is a coach. I haven't raced yet but will start next season. Does a coach ride with you or will he just give you work out plans and other stuff like that?
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Old 10-24-07, 07:23 PM   #2
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It depends on how seriously they take their job. Some will ride with you on your training rides, and make you work harder, give you dieting advice, give you good deals on equipment and give you input on your riding style and fit. They'll also tell you where you want to be in the race and when you want to be there and give you racing advice.
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Old 10-24-07, 07:36 PM   #3
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A coach is definitely not "necessary." Generally, however, most guys will do better with a coach than without one. It depends what kind of rider you are. What are your goals? Are you interested in technical aspects of training? Are you self-motivated?

Basically, to me, it comes down to the desire to gain technical knowledge and the ability to structure. If you have both of those capacities, then you might not need a coach; however, if you haven't any interest in the science of cycling, or lack the discipline to structure your riding schedule, then, yes, I'd seek out a coach.
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Old 10-24-07, 07:43 PM   #4
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My goals are to race and win I guess but mainly have fun. I want to ride in college on a team. What do you mean by the technical aspects? Like the position you are in the race and strategic stuff like that? I am very self-motivated. I ride aprox. 6 days a week right now.
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Old 10-24-07, 07:53 PM   #5
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GOOD coaches will help you avoid pitfalls and maximize your training time.
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Old 10-24-07, 08:36 PM   #6
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My goals are to race and win I guess but mainly have fun. I want to ride in college on a team. What do you mean by the technical aspects? Like the position you are in the race and strategic stuff like that? I am very self-motivated. I ride aprox. 6 days a week right now.
As far as I know, all college teams accept all comers. So you don't need to be at any particular ability level to be "on" one.

I'd check out the (many) threads about collegiate cycling on this board. There are a lot of guys who have shared their experiences and what they've gained from their time at school.

Personally, I would go through your first racing season/summer just learning to race. Hit the group rides, practice races, and races as often as you can without feeling burnt out. If you don't feel like you are progressing as fast as you would like once you get to the 3s, then it's time for coaching. Or, once you get to the 2s and your fitness gains are slow or non-existent, it's time for a coach. Basically, learn to race. Then, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. If it is, fix ASAP.
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Old 10-24-07, 09:32 PM   #7
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Just like a Basketball coach doesn't just teach you how to run up and down the court faster, a Cycling coach does much more than just get you fit. Anybody can get in shape, most of the job is teaching riders how to play the game.
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Old 10-25-07, 05:22 AM   #8
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A good coach is less physiologist and more a rah-rah trainer.
Find a free mentor, you'll suceed far beyond what any internet guru can sell you.
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Old 10-25-07, 05:43 AM   #9
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A good coach is less physiologist and more a rah-rah trainer.
Find a free mentor, you'll suceed far beyond what any internet guru can sell you.

I agree with this. The guys who taught me to race and ride my bike in general are local dudes. 25-50+y/o guys. You don't need to pay someone to answer questions that other people will gladly answer for free. Just go on group rides with them and other racers as often as possible. Training races too. Preferably hard ones. Hit it hard, and talk to them on the easy spin home afterwards. Learn to play the game.

And, as I think most of the guys here who have raced in Europe will tell you, Euro pros don't get fast by having a coach before they even start racing. They hit the kermesse scene, and have mentors who teach them how to race.
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Old 10-25-07, 07:19 AM   #10
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Whether you pay a coach, or just get advice from experienced people in your club/team, definitely find a mentor/coach. It will save a lot of trial and error.
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Old 10-25-07, 08:10 AM   #11
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I coach a college team. Because so many of the riders are new to the sport, I put most of my energy into teaching them basic to intermediate skills, basic info about training, and raise as much money as I can to make the sport a little more affordable. The last one is particularly important because school costs them a little more than $40k per year. We also encourage the more experienced riders to share what they know.

Coaches you pay (I work for karma) cover a wide range of topics, which have been well-outlined above. So long as you get a good coach, you will surely get more out of it than you put in. This is why I believe that EVERYONE should have a coach. If you don't, you will struggle with things for months that you could learn in minutes.
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Old 10-25-07, 08:35 AM   #12
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Coaches you pay (I work for karma) cover a wide range of topics, which have been well-outlined above. So long as you get a good coach, you will surely get more out of it than you put in. This is why I believe that EVERYONE should have a coach. If you don't, you will struggle with things for months that you could learn in minutes.
Are you confusing coach with experienced mentor?

I personally learned how to draft/echelon/rotate in about an hour.

Race tactics, on the other hand, can't be taught while on the bike, in race. Simply because you can't use race radios in anything under the 2s, and a coach that would be IN your races as a beginner isn't worth his salt. They can be learned, but that's the result of trial and error on the part of the racer.

And then, I fail to see what a person I pay can do any better than a person who I drive 3 hours each way to the races with, knows me better, rides with me regularly, etc.

In terms of analyzing power meter data or explaining exercise physiology, yes, a coach is very valuable. Completely agree. But exchanging emails, phone calls, or coming to watch a race is no replacement for the training rides, races, and long conversations that a mentor can offer.
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Old 10-25-07, 08:41 AM   #13
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I think for your first year, you will be growing by leaps and bounds just by getting on a team and getting an experienced racer to mentor you. That level of coaching will point you in the right direction most of the time.

A coach can greatly increase your training efficiency, but the initial bring-up for a new racer is so rapid anyway, that it's probably not worth the money off the bat. Once you start to stagnate, or feel you're not getting enough out of a mentor, decide on getting a coach vs. figuring it out on your own.

I had an incredible mentor for my first year (US National Team member). After I stopped working with him full-time, I burned out. I think a coach would have prevented that burnout, and I might have stayed in racing longer in my younger years.

As it is now, I only ride six hours/week, but I've seen continual improvements for 18 months without a coach. I have a great amount of training focus and variability, so I think I'll continue to see improvments. When my Christmas PowerTap arrives, I'm eager to consume the data myself and learn how to use it.

On the flip side, I also mentor and coach several riders, and I learn a lot for myself just from that. Teaching is a great way to learn.
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Old 10-25-07, 08:47 AM   #14
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A coach will take a vested (cause your paying) interest into your training and give you good objective opinions and suggestions that you may be too blind to see yourself. Getting opinions from friends and fellow team mates will get you answers all over the board. If you are new to the sport or to training in general this could leave you very confused and no better off. Getting a coach might speed up the trial and error learning curve.

One key thing to keep in mind that everybody on the internet is an "expert". You will get opinions and "fact" from one extreme to the next when you ask a question. Also there are those that really know the answer but will give you a crazy BS answer just for kicks. I think the majority of answers given for training by friends and internet forums are honest.... but most either didnt get the correct message out or really dont know what there talking aobut. Like me


I have a coach now to help me keep focus over the winter months. Having a plan laid out for me by somebody other than myself gives me a focus point. I have the knowledge and understand my body enough to do it myself but tend to slack off during the winter if its my own plan. having my coach call me once a week for an update plus knowing this weeks workout sets up next weeks gives me more motivation.

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Old 10-25-07, 08:12 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by YMCA View Post
A good coach is less physiologist and more a rah-rah trainer. Find a free mentor, you'll suceed far beyond what any internet guru can sell you.
I guess all free mentors are created equal and give the exact fabulous advice, have the same extensive knowledge base, and the exact experience to draw from. And mentors aren't ever ding dongs who'll give bass-ackwards advice or make silly blanket statements.

And all paid coaches are just cheerleaders.

I think Kyle Broflofsky said it best:

Really?

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Old 10-26-07, 04:36 AM   #16
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You nice and warm under that blanket statement?

I guess all free mentors, like all coaches, are created equal and give the exact same advice, have the exact same knowledge base, and the exact experience to draw from...

I think Kyle Broflofsky said it best:

Really?
Most coaches tend to be physiology based and looking for fitness.
Mentors can help the newbie understand the sport in depth.
Lower category riders fitness is a byproduct of riding the bike, no matter what kind of training they might do.
I believe in mentors. Not fitness programs.
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Old 10-26-07, 05:24 AM   #17
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Lower category riders fitness is a byproduct of riding the bike, no matter what kind of training they might do.
Have some more:

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Old 10-26-07, 05:36 AM   #18
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^^^ ???
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Old 10-26-07, 06:07 AM   #19
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^^^ ???
Warm blankets aside, RX saying that in the lower categories, more fitness training structure is beneficial, while YMCA is saying that tactics matter much more, and fitness comes from just riding.

This year I mentored three guys into racing. They've all been riding for years, but when they started joining me on lunch rides, they got a lot faster. Sprints and 1m, 4m, 10m intervals, and fast pacelines. Nothing too structured, but very focused, with some intentional variability. They are all faster now than I was a year ago...

That said, they also did the Tuesday Nighter every week and several Thursday night crits, and I helped them with tactics in those races, even if from the sideline. So, they learned a lot about the decision-making during a race as well.

Last week, one of them won the Tuesday Nighter on a solo flyer from 500m out, and another one upgraded to Cat 4 just as he was the third ranked Cat 5 in the country after his 10th race (not that it means too much, but still it's better than being ranked 500th).

So, we did it with somewhat structured fitness training and the race-smart mentoring to get started. I spent a lot more time training with them than racing with them, but we would talk about race specifics between intervals, and I'd give them some strategy ideas for the next race. You certainly don't need a calendar training schedule set up though -- we decide on our workout the day of the workout, based on how we feel and what we've done on previous days.
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Old 10-26-07, 09:03 AM   #20
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You certainly don't need a calendar training schedule set up though -- we decide on our workout the day of the workout, based on how we feel and what we've done on previous days.
Funny thing here is when a coach sets up a training plan you follow the exact same process. The workouts are laid out but you can move days around and if you dont feel up to working hard you dont. Just note the workout changes so the coach can adjust accordingly.
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Old 10-26-07, 11:45 AM   #21
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^^^ ???
Blankets. For the statements. Blanket statements. Ill considered absolutest statements of dogma dismissing completely the factual outcome other people's experiences.

Henceforth:


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Old 10-26-07, 12:07 PM   #22
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It's nice to know that cycling coaches are so well thought of... It makes all the thousands of hours of education as well as the thousands of dollars spent attaining that education and the necessary certifications all seem worth while... What's funny is that in countries that don't have the population base to just grind their athletes on the mill and use the ones that survive (i.e. Australia... esp. in track events...) coaches are thought to be just as valuable, if not more so than their top athletes... Of course, in this country, any Cat 2 that's been on the bike for all of 2 years total, with no background in physiology or coaching what-so-ever can call himself a coach and people line up... Go figure...

My $.02,
Dave
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Old 10-26-07, 12:15 PM   #23
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GOOD coaches will help you avoid pitfalls and maximize your training time.
+1000

I am a first year "racer" and second year cyclist. I used a coach to maximize my available time, evaluate my riding, fit my bike, offer encouragement, set goals and avoid injury. I did throw my back out this season but that was not related to cycling. My coach improved my threshold power ~15% with eight hours a week in training. I never would have gotten those gains any other way.

I believe that it's more beneficial to have a coach when you are beginning than when you have ridden for years and want to make the podium. Kinda like having hiring a golf instructor after you have developed years of poor habits there is to much muscle memory to overcome.
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Old 10-26-07, 12:44 PM   #24
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It's nice to know that cycling coaches are so well thought of... It makes all the thousands of hours of education as well as the thousands of dollars spent attaining that education and the necessary certifications all seem worth while... What's funny is that in countries that don't have the population base to just grind their athletes on the mill and use the ones that survive (i.e. Australia... esp. in track events...) coaches are thought to be just as valuable, if not more so than their top athletes... Of course, in this country, any Cat 2 that's been on the bike for all of 2 years total, with no background in physiology or coaching what-so-ever can call himself a coach and people line up... Go figure...

My $.02,
Dave
I think everyone here thinks well of coaches. I just don't see the need for a lot of beginners to have one, beyond a mentor.

The guys who taught me how to race and ride are, in this order:
1) Married, three children, 40hrs a week job. Current Masters State Champ Crit and RR
2) Single, pursuing his PhD. Cat1.
3) Single, undergrad. Cat1. Current Pro/1/2 state TT champ.
4) Married, two children, 40hrs a week job. Current Masters State Champ and overall winner, TT, Masters Nats TT second place 2007

I don't refer to any of them as my coach, nor do I think of any of them as a coach in any regard.
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Old 10-26-07, 12:48 PM   #25
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+1000

I am a first year "racer" and second year cyclist. I used a coach to maximize my available time, evaluate my riding, fit my bike, offer encouragement, set goals and avoid injury. I did throw my back out this season but that was not related to cycling. My coach improved my threshold power ~15% with eight hours a week in training. I never would have gotten those gains any other way.

I believe that it's more beneficial to have a coach when you are beginning than when you have ridden for years and want to make the podium. Kinda like having hiring a golf instructor after you have developed years of poor habits there is to much muscle memory to overcome.
Yeah, it's different for everyone. Lance had a coach for all of his Tour wins
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