You don't have to have a tri coach who you see every day. An online coach can help you achieve your goals: just be sure to learn how to find one and how to get the most out of your relationship.
Ok. The decision has been made... You want a coach. Goals decided, and help is required. But what if you don't have a local coach or maybe the coach you do know really isn't your cup of tea?
Fortunately there are a whole host of coaches right at your fingertips.
Thanks to technology innovations, geographic location is no longer the limitation it used to be. These days, getting an experienced coach who understands your goals, challenges, fears, and has first-hand experience with the races you're planning is possible from almost anywhere.
An online coach will plan your workouts, track and analyse your performance, and talk you through race day strategy. They'll prescribe strength training, analyse nutrition, and help you refocus when injury strikes. No matter where you live... this could be for you.
How to find the best online tri coach for you
Firstly, you have to think about your goals and concerns. If you know what you've struggled with in the past, how you train, and what you respond well to, note them down. Remember your online coach doesn't know you yet and hasn't seen you swim, bike, or run. You must be open and share!
Think about what kind of coach you want to work with. Online coaches will all be able to upload workouts and offer feedback... but their personalities, styles and additional services and expertise will vary! Whilst a good online coach will be able to adapt their delivery dependant on the individual, it's good to know who you respond well to. Drill sergeant, cheerleader, or someone who can talk to you about the numbers? Ideally you have someone who does it all if needed, but if not, check that there are options available. At the end of the day, your coach may be in contact with you daily, becoming an important part of your life as you get to know each other.
When looking into coaches and you have some options... don't short-sell yourself. Don't think that you're not good enough for a certain coach. It doesn't matter what level you are, a good coach should be able to deliver workouts and progressions for anyone at any level. Many coaches will take motivated athletes at all levels of ability! It's always worth asking them.
What to expect from an online coach consultation
This first consultation is not only about getting to know you as an athlete and your tri goals and experience, but also about your work, family and home life, sleep habits, nutrition, fears, self-discipline and more. The coach will listen 75% of the time as they really try and get to grips with your wants and needs. It will be an open, friendly conversation!
Be sure to mention what resources you have available: home gym, membership, bikes, indoor trainers etc etc. Explain what you'd like out of coaching. Expect the coach to explain exactly what they offer and how they operate. Most plans involve individualised training plans, email/ text availability, video consultations, guidance on race strategy, and nutrition advice, but plans vary, so don't hesitate to ask.
Try and talk to more than one coach to get a feel for who might be best for you in terms of offerings, personality and more. Even better, try and talk to current athletes within the coaching team to get to know what they really think.
Finally, the best results don't usually come from those with the highest certifications or coaching accolades. Some good marketing could make you think so... but they really come from when the coach and athlete have chemistry that works. Ask yourself... "am i excited to be working with this person?" What can you learn from them... what is their history... do they have story's you want to hear... is their expertise something that excites you?
How to get the most out of your Online tri coaching experience
Online triathlon coaching is an investment in yourself. It's not like buying a gym membership that you might go to a few times a week for the first few weeks before it dwindles... You have someone who cares about you and your progress almost as much as you do.
After all, what's worth more, the £100 you spend on the gym membership you don't use, or the £200 that makes you the most consistent, fittest, best version of yourself.
Coaches will keep you accountable and ensure that you're sharing the journey and the load with at least one other person!
But how to make this investment really pay off?
Communicate: Every coach should tell you that this is key. Be honest, open, and provide details. Different people will be comfortable disclosing different things, but as time goes on you'll get used to being open with your coach as you'll realise this is important to get the most out of your training. Data is necessary, but your comments are critical too.
Ask for help and be vulnerable: Don't be afraid to 'disappoint' your coach. They will understand. They are human too... and will want to help you overcome anything that you're struggling with. The best results come from teamwork borne of openness.
Trust your coach. When you've committed to the investment, you have to trust the process and your coach to deliver you to your targets. If you start second-guessing, it's a slippery slope. The job of the coach is to figure out what you need. This may not be what you think you need, but that's why you've invested in them... for their expertise. Don't go off on the latest FAD... just stick to the plan. Talk to your coach about any concerns... they should be able to explain the process and reassure you that you're doing what's right for you.
Let your coach know if you're not getting what you need: As you get close to your A race, don't hesitate to ask for all of the support you need. Different people will need different things, and in the weeks leading up to the race day, coaches can work with their athletes to develop detailed race day plans, from warmups, timings, nutrition, race techniques or just to calm your taper-week nerves.
Online Coaching choices are currently infinite, and the benefits can be phenomenal... be sure to do your research, invest in the right places, and enjoy the process!