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Old 10-19-13, 04:22 PM   #1
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To get a Coach or not

Is getting a coach when your beginning cycling and want to race a waste or can it be a good idea and why.
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Old 10-19-13, 05:01 PM   #2
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When you were learning to read did you teach yourself?

Having a coach IMO is a great idea. It has helped me short cut a lot of mistakes in both training and racing. It also helps to have another set of eyes and a second opinion in a lot of circumstances.
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Old 10-19-13, 05:04 PM   #3
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When you were learning to read did you teach yourself?
This makes a lot of sense. Thank you.
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Old 10-19-13, 05:14 PM   #4
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1: Cyclist training bible $30
2:Heart rate monitor or power meter $100 to $1000
3: Don't skip workouts $0
4:Eat right ?

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Old 10-19-13, 06:00 PM   #5
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Old 10-19-13, 07:03 PM   #6
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I've been looking at coaching options lately, and a lot if seems to be just paying to be lazy. Paying for fairly premade training plans and a weekly email to talk about it, while all the information is out there to understand how to build you own (training with power, the advanced cyclist, the training bible, etc). If you really can't sit down and read these and understand them, then pay $100/month for someone to explain it to you.

This is not to say coaches do not know anything outside of a book, but if all you paying for is the basic "make me a training plan", I think you are better off figuring that one out on your own.


That said, I have been RIDING with a coach lately. Think of a group ride but with him riding along side and giving feedback and organizing. This is awesome. He helped with my position and its great having someone giving immediate direct feedback. He even joined a gran fondo with us and helped organize attacks and stuff, it was a lot of fun. We do this at the track as well. I would sooner recommend attending a week long bootcamp with a coach than buying some weekly email training plan.
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Old 10-19-13, 10:46 PM   #7
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1: Cyclist training bible $30
2:Heart rate monitor or power meter $100 to $1000
3: Don't skip workouts $0
4:Eat right ?
+1

Start with the Training Bible, learn the terminology, and ride. Ride some more.

When you're starting out I don't think you need a coach.. when you start to plateau, then maybe it's time.

I guess a coach can't hurt necessarily but it doesn't seem necessary for a cat 5.

Or are you just talking about "cycling" in general? For fondos and centuries you'll definitely want a coach, and the most expensive bike your bank will finance.
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Old 10-20-13, 06:43 AM   #8
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OP - This is one of those "it depends" things. If you live in or near one of the cycling hotbeds in AR - say, Little Rock or Fayetteville - I'd say get involved in a club and go out on rides with them. There's usually a part of the club dedicated to newer cyclists, and you can learn stuff about cycling in general from them, plus expand your cycling network. OTOH, if, like me, you live in the boonies and have little-to-no contact with other cyclists, having a coach can be very helpful, since you wouldn't have any other source of mentoring.

Regardless of whether you get a coach, there are some books you need to get and read. The Cyclist's Training Bible is the one everyone has, and for good reason. The author, Joe Friel, takes you through how to create a training plan and what needs to be in it. Another one is Base Building for Cyclists, by Thomas Chapple. He works in Friel's coaching company, and does a better job explaining Friel than Friel does. A third one is The Time-Crunched Cyclist, by Chris Carmichael. The first part has pretty much the same information, but its main benefit is that it includes canned training schedules. Following these will improve your fitness, but more importantly they'll give you an idea what it's like following a training schedule and an outline of what yours might look like if you decide not to get a coach.

I've got a coach, and have worked with her for the last year and a half. I started with her about four years after I came back to cycling, when I got serious about it. I think it's been a big help, not only for the training expertise she brings but also for the support and accountability she provides. The accountability thing is huge IMO - it's so easy to skip a workout when you're the only one who knows you did.

Looking out a year or so, I'd definitely get a coach if you're going to race. You'll have a better idea of your capabilities and limitations on a bike, and will be able to more intelligently come up with goals. As for now...get the books, and ride your bike.
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Old 10-20-13, 07:10 AM   #9
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OP - This is one of those "it depends" things. If you live in or near one of the cycling hotbeds in AR - say, Little Rock or Fayetteville - I'd say get involved in a club and go out on rides with them. There's usually a part of the club dedicated to newer cyclists, and you can learn stuff about cycling in general from them, plus expand your cycling network. OTOH, if, like me, you live in the boonies and have little-to-no contact with other cyclists, having a coach can be very helpful, since you wouldn't have any other source of mentoring.

Regardless of whether you get a coach, there are some books you need to get and read. The Cyclist's Training Bible is the one everyone has, and for good reason. The author, Joe Friel, takes you through how to create a training plan and what needs to be in it. Another one is Base Building for Cyclists, by Thomas Chapple. He works in Friel's coaching company, and does a better job explaining Friel than Friel does. A third one is The Time-Crunched Cyclist, by Chris Carmichael. The first part has pretty much the same information, but its main benefit is that it includes canned training schedules. Following these will improve your fitness, but more importantly they'll give you an idea what it's like following a training schedule and an outline of what yours might look like if you decide not to get a coach.

I've got a coach, and have worked with her for the last year and a half. I started with her about four years after I came back to cycling, when I got serious about it. I think it's been a big help, not only for the training expertise she brings but also for the support and accountability she provides. The accountability thing is huge IMO - it's so easy to skip a workout when you're the only one who knows you did.

Looking out a year or so, I'd definitely get a coach if you're going to race. You'll have a better idea of your capabilities and limitations on a bike, and will be able to more intelligently come up with goals. As for now...get the books, and ride your bike.
There you go.

One should minimize their cost investment until they ascertain what they like to do and how serious they want to get about it. There is certainly tons of solid advice out there on how to get from the point where one buys a bicycle to where one can't improve efficiently on their own. Certainly when one is 'beginning' cycling just riding the bike with consistency is going to bring about improvement.
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Old 10-20-13, 01:50 PM   #10
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+1

Start with the Training Bible, learn the terminology, and ride. Ride some more.
That this seems to be people's first suggestion to a Cat 5 tells me they neither understand the book's target audience, nor have they read through pages and pages of people trying to grasp the concepts, usually without great success. And that they missed all the threads where people are training 16 hours a week doing long rides and can't figure out why they suck at 30 minute crits.

I'm reminded of the guys who take their girlfriends skiing for the first time. They put them on hand-me-down, poorly working and fitted equipment (because she doesn't need good equipment as a beginner) , act as the teacher when they can barely do the sport themselves (because why pay for a lesson until she decides she likes it), then complain later that she hated skiing.

The turnover in this sport is huge. A lot of that is due to the abysmal way people are introduced to it and the "old school" mindset of the some of the people who have managed to make it through the meat grinder.

Given that this is a physical sport with some bad consequences if you get it wrong (see grinder, meat), has numerous layers of complexity, is very physically and mentally (and emotionally) demanding, and is mostly misunderstood by it's participants, I'd say the question here shouldn't be to get a coach or not, but rather how to find a good/appropriate coach*. Other than skills clinics, I can't think of a better thing for a new racer to invest in.

*And that thread ought to be started and made a sticky.

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Old 10-20-13, 02:31 PM   #11
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That this seems to be people's first suggestion to a Cat 5 tells me they neither understand the book's target audience, nor have they read through pages and pages of people trying to grasp the concepts, usually without great success. And that they missed all the threads where people are training 16 hours a week doing long rides and can't figure out why they suck at 30 minute crits.

I'm reminded of the guys who take their girlfriends skiing for the first time. They put them on hand-me-down, poorly working and fitted equipment (because she doesn't need good equipment as a beginner) , act as the teacher when they can barely do the sport themselves (because why pay for a lesson until she decides she likes it), then complain later that she hated skiing.

The turnover in this sport is huge. A lot of that is due to the abysmal way people are introduced to it and the "old school" mindset of the some of the people who have managed to make it through the meat grinder.

Given that this is a physical sport with some bad consequences if you get it wrong (see grinder, meat), has numerous layers of complexity, is very physically and mentally (and emotionally) demanding, and is mostly misunderstood by it's participants, I'd say the question here shouldn't be to get a coach or not, but rather how to find a good/appropriate coach*. Other than skills clinics, I can't think of a better thing for a new racer to invest in.

*And that thread ought to be started and made a sticky
.
sounds great
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Old 10-20-13, 02:55 PM   #12
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A decent coach is lot of money. Even for someone who makes good money. That money that can go towards other things, and there are tons of plans out there you can haul off the internet.

Its good for someone who is peaked or on the edge of winning, but for anyone who hasn't reached their potential, just read and get advice.

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Old 10-20-13, 03:25 PM   #13
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A decent coach is lot of money. Even for someone who makes good money. That money that can go towards other things, and there are tons of plans out there you can haul off the internet.
I can't think of a single possible thing that would be better spent than coaching. The only thing that would be remotely close would be spending money on race fees/traveling to get more experience. Not all decent coaches are expensive anyways.

People who have never had a coach or never had success with a coach will be quick to say it's unnecessary. But anyone that has had a good experience with a coach will realize just how valuable and priceless they really are.
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Old 10-20-13, 06:21 PM   #14
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People who have never had a coach or never had success with a coach will be quick to say it's unnecessary. But anyone that has had a good experience with a coach will realize just how valuable and priceless they really are.
Sounds like antibiotics or a DVR or smartphone.
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Old 10-20-13, 06:27 PM   #15
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A decent coach is lot of money. Even for someone who makes good money. That money that can go towards other things, and there are tons of plans out there you can haul off the internet.

Its good for someone who is peaked or on the edge of winning, but for anyone who hasn't reached their potential, just read and get advice.
I respectfully disagree. As to cost, when my wife was still smoking (no longer, thank God!), I spent more money on her carton-per-week habit than I did on coaching. The lower levels of coaching still include personalized schedules and contact, just not as much as the more expensive levels. The personalization, feedback and accountability are, to me, the important things that make coaching worthwhile. I started with my coach when I was 60 - what's the chance of pulling a good schedule for my needs off the internet? (To Friel's credit, he does at least touch on this in The Cyclist's Training Bible.)

Also, I think that people who are farther from realizing their potential benefit from coaching more than experienced, accomplished riders. A coach's knowledge, experience and guidance shorten the learning curve considerably.
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Old 10-20-13, 06:47 PM   #16
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I got a coach before I entered my first race, but then I came from another sport, so realised the importance of coaching in anything.

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Also, I think that people who are farther from realizing their potential benefit from coaching more than experienced, accomplished riders. A coach's knowledge, experience and guidance shorten the learning curve considerably.
Yep, I took up waaay more of my coach's time in my first year, and got much more in return. Everything, from advice on what bike to buy, what tyres to buy, what to eat, how to warmup, which races to enter. And that's before all the advice on how to actually race/train.
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Old 10-20-13, 08:49 PM   #17
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something like 'value' is subjective, so i won't comment on that.

in many things in life, two people working together can achieve more than one would have on his own. this can be true for coaching, but it assumes the trainee is willing and the coach is able.

can one do rehab on their own to come back from surgery? sure! can they do better under the guidance of a good physical therapist? my experience is 'yes'.

there are always examples to the contrary, but above i'm assuming a synergistic relationship with a great coach. sometimes when one is new they may have a harder time figuring out what makes a good vs great coach.
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Old 10-20-13, 09:19 PM   #18
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I'd say the question here shouldn't be to get a coach or not, but rather how to find a good/appropriate coach*. Other than skills clinics, I can't think of a better thing for a new racer to invest in.
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sometimes when one is new they may have a harder time figuring out what makes a good vs great coach.
So how does one figure out a good coach and a great coach. I am afraid of getting the cookie cutter coach. I know that I want to ride competitively, but I want to do it right the first time. I am starting this at 46 years of age, work and have a family so I need someone who can work around all of that and bring out the best in me so that my experience is a good one.
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Old 10-20-13, 10:41 PM   #19
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That this seems to be people's first suggestion to a Cat 5 tells me they neither understand the book's target audience, nor have they read through pages and pages of people trying to grasp the concepts, usually without great success. And that they missed all the threads where people are training 16 hours a week doing long rides and can't figure out why they suck at 30 minute crits.

I'm reminded of the guys who take their girlfriends skiing for the first time. They put them on hand-me-down, poorly working and fitted equipment (because she doesn't need good equipment as a beginner) , act as the teacher when they can barely do the sport themselves (because why pay for a lesson until she decides she likes it), then complain later that she hated skiing.

The turnover in this sport is huge. A lot of that is due to the abysmal way people are introduced to it and the "old school" mindset of the some of the people who have managed to make it through the meat grinder.

Given that this is a physical sport with some bad consequences if you get it wrong (see grinder, meat), has numerous layers of complexity, is very physically and mentally (and emotionally) demanding, and is mostly misunderstood by it's participants, I'd say the question here shouldn't be to get a coach or not, but rather how to find a good/appropriate coach*. Other than skills clinics, I can't think of a better thing for a new racer to invest in.

*And that thread ought to be started and made a sticky.
Well as a coach, I'm not surprised you think everyone needs a coach. And I'm not saying they don't need a coach, I'm just saying not everyone needs one right away.

Also I think it'd be good for someone with a coach to read/skim the Training Bible (or similar books) so that they at least know wtf their coach is talking about.

Thanks for the gf/skiing tips though, that might come in handy!
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Old 10-20-13, 11:26 PM   #20
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I can't think of a single possible thing that would be better spent than coaching. The only thing that would be remotely close would be spending money on race fees/traveling to get more experience. Not all decent coaches are expensive anyways.

People who have never had a coach or never had success with a coach will be quick to say it's unnecessary. But anyone that has had a good experience with a coach will realize just how valuable and priceless they really are.
I am not necessarily arguing the value of a coach for cycling, but the financial commitment is significant and is just not required. For someone like me who is married, its a collective decision, and after just buying a fixer upper, its can be a hard sell. Especially if there's a Power Meter requirement and startup fees, it could easily add up to a 4k investment for the year. My point is, coaching is an augment to a hobby.

Early next year I plan on getting a coach. I've had a coach in triathlon, and it worked well, but imo, cycling is a totally different skill set, and maybe I'm wrong but just emailing power numbers and gps logs for someone who wants to do crits or road races seems like its missing part of the equation (unless the club can fill in that gap).
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Old 10-21-13, 06:22 AM   #21
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Get a base, then get a coach.
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Old 10-21-13, 06:38 AM   #22
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Early next year I plan on getting a coach. I've had a coach in triathlon, and it worked well, but imo, cycling is a totally different skill set, and maybe I'm wrong but just emailing power numbers and gps logs for someone who wants to do crits or road races seems like its missing part of the equation (unless the club can fill in that gap).
So what did your tri coach do that's different?

And a coach is more than power numbers and gps logs. Sh**, you can email that stuff to me and i can analyze them for a low intro rate of $25/month. The point of a coach is someone who knows you well enough to develop a program that works for you so you can excel in the events you are targeting. Things like minimal effective dosage and specificity. There's a lot more involved there than what meets the eye.
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Old 10-21-13, 06:48 AM   #23
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So how does one figure out a good coach and a great coach. I am afraid of getting the cookie cutter coach. I know that I want to ride competitively, but I want to do it right the first time. I am starting this at 46 years of age, work and have a family so I need someone who can work around all of that and bring out the best in me so that my experience is a good one.
Since I'm working with a sample size of one, I can't help on how to discern a good coach from a great one. I can say that she's competent and professional, but have no context for "great" when it comes to coaching. My coach works for Carmichael Training Systems (CTS), one of the larger, maybe the largest, coaching organization, and they have a two (I think) week school that all coaches go through, to ensure they're all reading off the same sheet of music. I'm guessing that Friel's and Coggan's organizations do something similar. Note that "reading off the same sheet of music" doesn't necessarily mean "cookie cutter." Since I'm using the least expensive program they offer, I have the least amount of contact they offer - one phone call/week, several emails/week when needed. I get a four week training schedule consisting of three weeks of build and one of recovery. If stuff happens, I email my coach, she modifies the schedule. Coach/athlete communication is encouraged. You're married and have a family - that probably describes the majority of folks being coached. Your age won't be an issue.

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I am not necessarily arguing the value of a coach for cycling, but the financial commitment is significant and is just not required. For someone like me who is married, its a collective decision, and after just buying a fixer upper, its can be a hard sell. Especially if there's a Power Meter requirement and startup fees, it could easily add up to a 4k investment for the year. My point is, coaching is an augment to a hobby.

Early next year I plan on getting a coach. I've had a coach in triathlon, and it worked well, but imo, cycling is a totally different skill set, and maybe I'm wrong but just emailing power numbers and gps logs for someone who wants to do crits or road races seems like its missing part of the equation (unless the club can fill in that gap).
There's no question that there's a sizable financial commitment for a coach, and that it depends on one's priorities. A lot of cyclists will complain of the expense of coaching, and in the next breath brag about the new Zipp wheels they just bought. My race bike is a 2012 Specialized Allez E5 frameset (aluminum) with mostly DA 7800 drivetrain and Open Pro wheels with a two-generations-ago Powertap, almost everything bought used. It weighs 19 lbs. with pedals and cages. Had I spent the coaching money on a light bike with expensive wheels, I'd have a cooler bike, but I'd be slower.

Racing is a considerable expense as well, depending on where one lives. Many of the folks on this forum live in California, where there are multiple races within easy driving distance each week during racing season. For me, and others who live in the hinterlands, it's more like one weekend stage race/month within 2-300 miles, with gas, food, and two nights in a motel. I have to budget ~$300 for that weekend.

There's no question that coaching is a considerable expense, and that one has to prioritize. It may not be feasible for some. My opinion is that if one can afford to race bikes, one can usually afford a coach by cutting back on the bling (cool wheels, new bike, etc.).
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Old 10-21-13, 07:32 AM   #24
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I think the suggestion to find a local group to ride with is probably the best one.

Friel's Training Bible is great, but it isn't a beginners book. I read it when I first started riding and all it did was confuse me. My assessment after the first time reading it was that I needed to quit my job and divorce my wife and devote my life to cycling to be decent. I re-read it a year later and it was much more helpful.
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Old 10-21-13, 07:49 AM   #25
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I'm certainly not experienced enough for my input to be considered equivalent to some others in the thread, however I will say that having access to higher category, more experienced mentor has been very useful in entering the sport and improving form. If you don't have an analytical mind and some discipline combined with a mentor like that, I can see where a coach would be very beneficial.
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