Do You Need a Cycling Coach? — A Testimonial for Coaching

We always welcome testimonials and honest feedback from our clients, and we often post them on our coach profile pages. Sometimes a review is just so helpful and thought provoking that we like to share the whole thing as a blog posting. This testimonial from client Mark Vojtko is one of those special ones. If you have been considering getting a coach, you may relate to Mark’s experience. Read on…

Client Mark Vojtko at the 24 Hours of Great Glen.

Do you need a cycling coach? I guess it depends on your level of commitment, how competitive you aspire to be, and probably most importantly your need for daily work/life training balance. Personally, if I’m going to do something, I want to do it well. I have a competitive streak to me, but I also realize that I’ll never be a professional athlete and I’ll never earn millions of dollars riding a bike. The biggest benefit part of having a coach for me has been obtaining a good life/work balance.

My job doesn’t allow me the luxury of a lunch time ride, and 7am to 7pm shifts don’t leave much time to train before or even after work. Having started mountain bike racing at age 47 and entering my 6th year of racing, I was off to a lousy start in 2014. I’d read and continually referenced multiple books and the internet only to eventually become really confused. I didn’t know which direction to go to get into race fitness and move up to a level where I could realistically compete. I spent hours a day thinking about what I should do, and even used a coach on a consultant basis. Unfortunately, the DIY plan was frustrating. Things never clicked, and I wasn’t able to move forward.

Shopping around, there are plenty of coaching services and individual coaches to choose from: more confusion. I’m one who insists on value for my money and the Wenzel coaching program presented itself as a great choice. The website is not only easy to navigate, but the various programs are clearly explained, the athletes’ accomplishments are highlighted, and the blog makes for plenty of very valuable reading. No other coaching program offered such a complete package.

I rolled the dice and filled out the “inquiry” section. Shortly after my inquiry, I was contacted by Aaron Oakes of Wenzel Coaching. Not only is Aaron located in my area (Vermont), but has a pretty impressive race resume and is an active competitor (including representing the USA at the UCI World Cup this year). After a very comprehensive interview, I thought it a good investment to proceed with some “professional help.” I gave Aaron my schedule, and shortly thereafter, my training plan arrived.

Coach Aaron Oakes maneuvers on a mountain bikeThe plans all start with a monthly overview that incorporated a plan that focused on my current level of fitness and upcoming racing goals. Each workout has a description of do’s and don’ts, intensity ranges, and what to do if things aren’t happening on that day. It was a pleasant change to take the thinking out of training and I found all the workouts challenging but not to the point where I was smoked. I was happy with the speed at which my fitness improved. The “office hours” built into my program are a big bonus. Having the chance to speak with my coach on a regular basis for updates, advice, etc. is definitely a value-added component.

Just 10 days before three key races I incurred a hip flexor injury. I know how to handle the medical component, but having a professional to guide me through modifying my training plan was invaluable and kept me on track to achieve three subsequent podium finishes. It was this genuine interest in my injury rehab that made a difference.

At 53, I’m not physiologically supposed to reach large fitness increases, but I have. My endurance is on par with my military days in my 20s. I’m approaching races with confidence and I’m very pleased with my results. Many have commented on my progress and I attribute it simply to efficient and appropriate training. This investment has paid off and I’m excited to see how the remainder of the year goes.

Given my results and the guidance I’ve received, I can only give both Aaron and Wenzel Coaching my highest recommendation. If I’ve learned anything in the past five months, it’s that the DIY approach only goes so far. When you have a plumbing problem you call a qualified plumber, and when you need dental work you go to a board certified dentist. When you want to race mountain bikes and hold your own, get a coach that knows how to race AND has the ability to efficiently guide you through the training and preparation process.

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