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Should I quit working with my coach?

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Should I quit working with my coach?

Old 07-01-19, 05:56 PM
  #1  
marxmykarlendar
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Should I quit working with my coach?

I donít post here very often at all (ever?) but I read a lot of the threads and thought I might ask for some advice: should I quit working with my coach

I have been cycling seriously for a few years now and am reasonably fast and reasonably fit. I take it seriously and want very much to improve. I started working with a coach last year because I wanted to push myself to reach a higher level of fitness and race for my first full season this year. Over the winter, my coach gave me a structured plan via TrainingPeaks. I didnít really understand what we were doing or why, but I trusted them since they have a note-worthy career as a cyclist, are well respected, and seem super knowledgeable.

I have definitely improved my fitness, but then again my own winter plans, which I designed, also improved my fitness notably. I am racing well locally, winning a few 4/5 races and getting second in a few road races. All of my race tactics are my own, my coach and I have never discussed any strategy. I donít know what they would say are my strengths or weaknesses. However, communication in general seems pretty terrible. There have been races I was just demolished in and felt like crap, and we basically didnít talk about it. Now, in the summer, I have no idea why I am doing what I am doing. Sometimes workouts will have notes that reference events I am not competing in and seem to be training rides for those events. They (my coach) act sort of stand-offish when I see them in person, and they have a very hands-off approach in general. I do see them encouraging others, though, openly. It feels a lot like I am supposed to just blindly do whatís in TrainingPeaks, outside of which we rarely communicate. I have met with them to try and talk about it, but it hasnít helpe

I am also super confused about how to even communicate in TrainingPeaks. If I donít feel or perform well, or feel discouraged and admit that, they cut my training down and we donít talk about it. If I am feeling down or discouraged or otherwise not well and do not tell them, I just perform poorly any way and there is no discussion at all followed by fewer workouts or rides in Training Peaks. Pretty often, I will ask a question or express some self-doubt and that will receive zero comment. When I perform poorly and we donít talk about, I tend to convince myself I am too heavy and try to cut calories and start bonking. Or I worry I am not strong enough to warrant their focus and get down on myself. Admittedly, I have some ripping social anxiety and donít have a fantastic self-image, but I guess I hoped a coach would help me build a little confidence. I donít feel like I know this person at all, and they definitely donít know me very well, even after more than 10 months. I am pretty uncomfortable taking to them because they donít seem to ďhearĒ what I am saying. I feel really bummed out about it and like I am not worth their effort or something, which just kind of makes me that much more anxious.

Is this on me and totally outside what a coachís ďrealmĒ, or is it fair to wish we were more engaged? Is coaching really just uploading workouts in TrainingPeaks, and if so is it worth the financial cost? Couldnít I just manage my own training to equal results?

Sorry for such a long post, but thank you for any insight you might have.
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Old 07-01-19, 08:37 PM
  #2  
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Coaching shouldn't just be uploading workouts into TrainingPeaks, at least in my opinion. If you wanted that, you could use something like TrainerRoad for basically the same thing, for probably a lot cheaper.

Or you could try doing it yourself. Read about some sports physiology, listen to some podcasts (Velo News Fast Talk is excellent IMO).

The current research shows, especially at your level (and mine) that it really isn't rocket science to design a periodized (sp?) polar training model that will get you gains, keep you safe and not sick. Knowing when to push, when to pull back, when you're feeling off and should can it and roll home, and when you just need to finish that workout even though it's hard, that's the hard part to learn, and a good coach can help, but you really have to learn your own body and how you recover and how your body responds to training stress.

It sounds like you've tried, given them a long time, tried to work with them and express your feelings. A good coach is like a good relationship, if it isn't working and you've made the effort, it's probably time to end it.
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Old 07-01-19, 10:21 PM
  #3  
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I agree with @Flatballer, the coach-athlete relationship is exactly that: a relationship. If you don’t feel like you have a relationship, you should probably move on. Your coach might work well for someone else but not for you, that’s the nature of it.

What is the purpose of a coach? It’s really to get you better results than you could get without the coach. Some of what a good coach provides is the specific workouts but mostly it’s about the overall training plan and helping you to manage that in the context of your life. If you are an outlier in any way, or if your life/schedule in complicated, a coach can provide great benefit.

Should a coach provide help with tactics, equipment decisions, race strategy, etc? Yes. Should a coach know you pretty well after 10 months? Yes.

I had a terrible coach initially and have a great coach now. I’m definitely glad I did not give up on the concept of being coached, for me personally it’s a great luxury that works well.

When I was looking for a coach, I contacted a local well respected coach who I know got good results. He told me he wasn’t accepting new clients and then a week later took on an acquaintance who doesn’t even ride (let alone race) anymore. We continued to move in the same circle of cyclists and I eventually came to realize that this coach was looking to cultivate a stable of a certain type of cyclist- he wanted buddies around his age who raced crits. He actually did the right thing to turn me away because I probably would have always been the odd man out in that circle. It gave me the opportunity to find a coach who worked for me, and gave him the opportunity to focus on the type of cyclist he could do the most for, in part because he limited himself to working with cyclists he could really engage with. Maybe your coach is like this one, he’s not that interested in you personally. Why stick with someone like that?

So I’d encourage you to look around, interview a few coaches and see if there’s someone else who seems like a better fit. It wasn’t that hard for me to find someone who I work well with.
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Old 07-02-19, 04:45 AM
  #4  
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Thanks for your replies. I was worried I was expecting something that was outside of a normal coaching relationship, but that doesn't sound to be the case.

Thanks @Flatballer for the idea to read up and make my own plans. Thats probably the route I will go.

Thanks again!
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Old 07-02-19, 06:31 AM
  #5  
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I think you need to find a new coach, assuming you still want one.

Some coaches phone it in. I've had local coaches who did what you describe and distant coaches who provide way more guidance and support than you are getting. If you still want a coach, I suggest figuring out what you want to accomplish and then find a coach who will work with you and communicate with you the way you want. I've been through about 10 coaches over the years - it's a long story - and in my last coaching search, I interviewed 5 or 6 coaches (including Heathpack's) and talked with a bunch of other riders about them before deciding on who I wanted to work with.

As to whether you need a coach, that's something we cannot answer - and has been a frequent topic of debate. I could probably make do without a coach at this point, but I like the accountability.

At this point, I do know a lot of coaches around the country. Feel free to PM me if you want to ask specific questions or any recommendations.
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Old 07-02-19, 06:59 AM
  #6  
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Before you go for a new coach, or no coach, at least approach them with your concerns or complaints as a courtesy. I may have missed that above, if so, apologies.

At least that way, they will either say something, nothing, or they have feedback if you leave.

If you've won something, must be doing alright by me. Best indicator of performance is performance itself. I find around here the 4/5 stuff has a lot of "career 4's" and "triathlete 4/5's" who could move to 3 and won't. So often the 4/5 races finish with faster speeds than the 3's do. But, being a cluster FK of zero brains or strategy among folks like me who aren't too bright.

I say that to say if I had to spend money on a coach for 4/5 and didn't plan on moving up to 3 within X years.........I'd only do so to manage strategy and skills. I wouldn't do it for fitness. Just me.
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Old 07-02-19, 07:19 AM
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I disagree with BTS. If you're not getting the communication you want now, you're not going to get it in the future. I've been through this exact issue with a coach. Trying to discuss it with them will just delay the inevitable. Go ahead and cut ties and find a new coach.
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Old 07-02-19, 09:08 AM
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Originally Posted by topflightpro View Post
I disagree with BTS. If you're not getting the communication you want now, you're not going to get it in the future. I've been through this exact issue with a coach. Trying to discuss it with them will just delay the inevitable. Go ahead and cut ties and find a new coach.
I agree 100%. I just went through this exact scenario. I talked to the old coach about it, but it ultimately wasn't his style and it stressed me out and made me dislike my bike. Great guy, but not a great communicator. I switched and couldn't be happier. Performing better and enjoying the process again. Life is to short to try and change someone else. Find someone who gives you what you want. That's what you are paying for.
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Old 07-02-19, 11:10 AM
  #9  
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I'd definitely dump this coach. Probably today. Probably with a one-liner.
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Old 07-02-19, 11:22 AM
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Thank you all so much for your replies. I sincerely appreciate it. I was a little nervous to post about this, but everyone on here has been really cool.

I think I am going to quit working with them, then. I just don’t feel good about it, and honestly I have gotten so frustrated that I’ve thought about not riding anymore at all. I like this person and super respect them, but I guess it’s just not working out. It’s very helpful to hear other folks experiences, too. I definitely want to upgrade categories, but we don’t talk about how to do that. We have not really set any measurable goals at all, come to think about it.

Any advice on cutting it off, for those of you that have had that conversation? I was thinking about wimping out and using my limited finances as an excuse…and in fairness that's a factor, but I would have figured it out had things been working better.
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Old 07-02-19, 12:12 PM
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Originally Posted by marxmykarlendar View Post
I think I am going to quit working with them, then. I just donít feel good about it, and honestly I have gotten so frustrated that Iíve thought about not riding anymore at all. I like this person and super respect them, but I guess itís just not working out.
Just make a variation on this statement, but instead of the starting with "quit" start with something like, "I need to move on, and I appreciate that you've helped me grow in my cycling. Lately, I've been frustrated. I like and respect you, but this relationship is not working for me."

Something to that effect. You don't want to torch this person, and you never know when you might need this person as an ally down the road. They might be a great coach for someone else. Whatever they are offering isn't what you need, now.
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Old 07-02-19, 12:20 PM
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TimmyT pretty much nailed it.

Just say, "Hey, I appreciate everything you did for me, but I don't think this relationship is working for me, and I'm going to go in a different direction. Good luck in your future endeavors." You know, make it sound like it's not you, it's me.

If you're concerned, email him. In my case, I tried talking my way through it for two or three months, but he always was able to talk me out of bailing. I eventually ended up just emailing him.
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Old 07-02-19, 12:32 PM
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This thread makes me appreciate the great coaches that I had early on whose instruction goes with me on every ride that I take decades on.
Same for Dr. Ed Burke & Eddie B. who encouraged mentoring to bring along a younger generation to far surpass anything my age cadre did and get USA cycling up to top International standards.

Think I'll go for a ride remembering to keep my elbows bent, ride a straight line and look where the bike needs to go......

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Old 07-02-19, 02:25 PM
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I agree that he needs to be terminated. The easiest way is the simplest. My goals have changed and I am moving in a different direction. Thank you for your assistance. I would not make it about him or you. Do not get into a why you are terminating discussion. Finances are irrelevant unless that is really the reason. There is no upside for you into getting into a discussion and only downside. If you want to go back, no problem, the same argument can be used. I want to rehire you because my goals have changed.

Many times termination may result in disputes or unpaid fees or fees that were paid up front and not used. So be careful if this is an issue.
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Old 07-02-19, 03:07 PM
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Starting out an all-in-one coach makes a lot of scene. Many go a-la-carte for specialties from bike fit, to training, to race coaching. You can break it down more too.
Anyway, having 5 "coaches" does not mean 5X the cost of one, although likely more costly than just having one. Shop around a bit in the areas that are lacking and see if you think breaking it up a bit is good.

Look for a separate fitter, maybe separate remote trainer.
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Old 07-02-19, 10:34 PM
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I keep things like this short and sweet. I’d probably say something like “thanks for everything but I’m not going to continue with you past XXX date.” If he asked why, I’d tell him but I wouldn’t start with a reason unless asked. If he wants feedback, fine: I felt like I got canned workouts, sometimes referencing someone else’s races/events, I felt like I’d bring up issues with you but get no meaningful reply, I hoped for more overall strategy with upgrading. Etc. Just the highlights. Let him figure the rest of it out on his own.
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Old 07-03-19, 11:46 AM
  #17  
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You shouldn't have to say much. If you were paying for a service and no longer wish to pay for it, you don't really owe the person an explanation. That doesn't mean you should be rude, but you aren't obligated to say anything. And, I suspect, unless the guy is pretty clueless, he will know exactly why you decided to move on.

Communication is key in just about everything. The best performers don't always make the best coaches (or commentators, if you will), since many of them can't really adequately explain the intricacies of the activity.
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Old 07-03-19, 02:55 PM
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Thanks everyone. I will just be honest about and let them know I want to go another direction.


Thanks again for everyone’s opinions – this was really helpful.
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